Greek Classic Chicken Souvlaki
Greek Classic Chicken Souvlaki is grilled chicken, onions and tomatoes served on pita bread with tzatziki, a yogurt and cucumber sauce. When ordered at a Greek restaurant Chicken Souvlaki is often served with everything rolled up in a pita wrapped in foil and served with tzatziki sauce on the chicken mixture or in a small container on the side. For me it’s a bit difficult to eat this way – there’s no way to avoid spilling part or most of it out of the foil wrapping and onto my plate! I like serving Chicken Souvlaki on a platter (see above photo) with the pita cut into wedges.
My best friend Janice Carlton and I used to go to a small Greek restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina often and I always ordered Chicken Souvlaki. This dish brings back nice memories for me!
The Recipe for Chicken Souvlaki:
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, peeled, seeded and grated
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 pitas
- 1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
- 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
- 1/3 cup black olives, halved & pitted
- In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber with 1 teaspoon of the salt; let sit for 15 minutes. Squeeze the cucumber to remove the liquid. Combine the cucumber with the yogurt, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the dill.
- Light the grill or heat the broiler. In a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the chicken cubes in the oil mixture and thread them onto skewers.
- Grill the chicken over high heat or broil, turning once, until done. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Wrap the pitas in foil and grill until heated and golden. Cut into quarters.
- To serve, put the pitas on plates and top with the onion, tomatoes and chicken skewers. Serve with the tzatziki and olives.
- If using wooden skewers be sure to soak them in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent smoking while cooking the chicken.
When making tzatziki, the yogurt and cucumber sauce, it’s important to get rid of as much of the cucumber liquid as possible. I did this by grating the cucumber, then putting it on a coffee filter in a strainer and letting it sit until most of the liquid had dripped through the strainer. I used the coffee filter to contain the grated cucumber while I squeezed out the rest of the liquid.
The tzatziki sauce adds a distinctive freshness to the Chicken Souvlaki. This delicious sauce could be thinned with the addition of a little milk and be used as salad dressing, too!
I used metal skewers to grill the chicken for this recipe. If you use wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent smoking when you place them on the grill.
Raw onions are the normal accompaniment to this dish but if you really want to add some delicious flavor, try caramelizing the onions before serving time. To caramelize the onion in this recipe I cooked them in a skillet with some butter and a sprinkling of sugar. (You can also accomplish this by using half butter and half olive oil.) Cooking time will be 30 minutes over medium-low heat. Caramelized onions take time, but the end result is well worth it!
Chicken Souvlaki is a satisfying meal for warm weather or anytime of year! Greek cuisine is Mediterranean cuisine which is thought to confer good health benefits. Chicken Souvlaki contains tomato, olives, cucumber, onion, yogurt and lemon juice – all components of the Mediterranean diet.
If you enjoy Greek food be sure to check out my post on Pastitsio – Greek Comfort Food, which is another Greek classic! I hope you’ll try at least one of these recipes soon!
Remember to Savor the Flavor!
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