Cook this: Buttermilk Chicken Shish Kebab

With its bonanza of bank holidays, May has us dusting off the barbecue. This year, eschewing burnt burgers for something more sophisticated, Josh Katz, the chef-owner of Exmouth Market’s Berber & Q Shawarma Bar, shares this recipe from his first book, Berber & Q (£25, Ebury Press). He says: “Shish kebab is commonplace to all the cuisines across the Levant and Middle East. Most will use breast meat, which is lean but lacks the juiciness and flavour of thigh meat. I use thigh meat, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.”


For the buttermilk chicken shish

100ml buttermilk | ½ tsp ground cumin | ¼ tsp cayenne pepper | 1 tsp sweet paprika | ¼ tsp ground cinnamon | 2 garlic cloves, minced | 2 tbsp garlic oil or olive oil | 1 tbsp hot red pepper paste (biber salçası) | grated zest and juice of 1 lemon | 1 tsp salt | ¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper | ½ onion, sliced | 8 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned and quartered | 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks | 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks | 1 red onion, peeled and quartered

To garnish and serve

pitas or flatbread | 1 tbsp olive oil or garlic oil, plus extra to brush | 1 tbsp thinly sliced spring onion | 1 tbsp picked oregano leaves | 1 tbsp lemon pickle


For the buttermilk chicken shish

1. Put the buttermilk, spices, garlic, oil, hot red pepper paste, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and onion in a bowl and stir together to combine.
2. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and massage the mixture into the chicken to ensure it’s evenly distributed and well coated. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for 4–6 hours or preferably overnight.

To finish the chicken

1. Skewer the chicken pieces intermittently with the red and green pepper and the red onion.
2. Set a barbecue up ensuring that you are cooking on medium-hot embers. Grill the skewers directly over the burning coals, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through when checked with a knife (or to an internal temperature of 70°C or above when probed with a thermometer).
3. Brush the pitas or flatbreads with a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of water, and warm through briefly on the grill. They can be placed directly on top of the skewers if there isn’t sufficient room on the barbecue.

To garnish and serve

1. Remove the pitas and transfer to a serving platter. Place the skewered chicken thighs atop, brushed with olive oil. Scatter the spring onion and oregano leaves liberally over the skewers, along with the lemon pickle.
2. This kebab is great served with garlic sauce, slaw and pickles of choice.