Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Dinner

Shawarma-Spiced Chicken with Saffron Rice

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Need a nice, midweek chicken dinner for four? Add this shawarma-spiced chicken with saffron rice to the rotation. The meal is comprised of three components. The first is spiced chicken stewed with peppers and tomatoes. The second is a gorgeous, aromatic saffron rice. The third is a bright salad with a yogurt-parsley dressing.

Chicken dinner for four

I love chicken and rice. This meal could sustain me every single day, and I wouldn’t complain at all. The beauty of this meal is that it’s as versatile as it is delicious.

The recipe calls for a store-bought shawarma spice blend. This blend is inspired by the flavors of shawarma, an Eastern Mediterranean dish that consists of roasting seasoned meat over an open flame on a slowly rotating spit.

I use a store-bought shawarma spice blend. In many cases, I reach for New York Shuk, but in this recipe, I used Villa Jerada. Just because I used a store-bought blend doesn’t mean you can’t make it at home! You may have many of the ingredients in your cupboard already.

I don’t have a specific recipe that I’ve developed for an at-home version. Instead, I encourage you to turn to The Mediterranean Dish’s expertise. If you use that recipe as a starting point but want to bring in the flavors of what’s pictured above, include a pinch each of ginger, cardamom, allspice, onion powder, and a tiny pinch of nutmeg, and sumac if you have it. If not, add a tiny bit of lemon zest to the blend.

Shawarma spice blend recipe:

Below is how I would modify the recipe from The Mediterranean Dish to reference the flavors of Villa Jerada. This should give you just over the two tablespoons of spice blend needed for the recipe. A little extra never hurts!

  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Sumac or lemon zest, to taste
Shawarma-Spiced Chicken with Saffron Rice Recipe

How to make this shawarma-spiced chicken dinner:

I love this chicken with saffron rice dinner because of how easy it is to make. While it does have a few moving parts, nothing is particularly challenging or overly difficult.

Here’s what you do:

  • Step 1: First, stew the chicken. Season the chicken thighs and fry them up in a pot. Add onion, peppers, and tomatoes, and finish with a little chicken broth. Simmer it as you cook the rice and make the salad.
  • Step 2: Cook the rice. Fry up a shallot in butter and toast the rice. Pour in water and crush up the saffron on top. Simmer for 15 minutes. Before you uncover the rice, let it stand off the heat for 5–10 minutes.
  • Step 3: Make the salad. I recommend a food processor for the dressing, but feel free the mince the parsley and simply combine all the ingredients together. In addition to parsley, you need Greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. I use water to thin out the dressing until it reaches a drizzling consistency. You need just a splash or two. The salad can be anything you have in your crisper. I use Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, and avocado. Throw in some radishes, red onion, corn, croutons, or nuts, if you like it extra crunchy.

To plate it up, I like to spoon the rice onto a big serving platter and pile the chicken on top. I serve the salad on the side, and then I finish the platter with minced parsley, though torn mint would be delicious. I also sprinkle some Aleppo pepper, sumac, and dukkah on top, but it’s not required! It just adds a nice color and little extra pop of flavor.

Chicken dinner for four

Shawarma-Spiced Chicken Dinner

A perfect midweek chicken dinner, this shawarma-spiced chicken is as versatile as it is delicious.
5 from 5 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 491kcal



Shawarma-spiced chicken:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons shawarma spice blend
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 2 bell peppers, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, trimmed and large-diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saffron rice:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt


  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup loosely packed parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A few splashes of water
  • 1 small head of Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ English cucumber, sliced
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:

  • Minced parsley or fresh mint, Aleppo pepper flakes, sumac, or dukkah, optional


Prepare the chicken:

  • Pat the chicken dry and season with salt, pepper, and the shawarma spice blend.
  • Heat the oil in a wide pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 3–5 minutes per side.
  • Add the bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes around the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes. Season all over with salt and pepper.
  • Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid further. Once the chicken reaches 165ºF, taste and adjust the seasonings. Keep warm.

Make the rice:

  • Melt the butter in a small pot. Add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and pour in the water. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and stir once. Crush the saffron between your fingers and sprinkle on top of the rice. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and fluff with a fork.

Make the salad dressing:

  • Place the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and parsley in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the olive oil and blend until combined. Taste and add salt. Add a few splashes of water until the dressing reaches a drizzling consistency. Set aside.
  • Combine the Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, shredded carrots, and avocado in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Pour the dressing on top and toss gently to coat evenly. Add salt and pepper, if needed.

To serve:

  • Spoon the rice onto a serving platter. Pile the chicken thighs and vegetables on top. Garnish with minced parsley or mint leaves. Serve with Aleppo pepper, sumac, or dukkah on top if you like. Serve the salad on the side, and enjoy!


Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 29g | Sodium: 487mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 22mg
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