Shashlik or shashlyk is a form of shish kebab popular throughout the former Soviet Union, parts of Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Mongolia, Iran, and Israel. These skewers are either all meat, all fat, or alternating pieces of meat, fat, and vegetables such as bell pepper, onion and tomato. Different that other kebab, the meat for shashlik is usually marinated overnight in vinegar, dry wine, yogurt, or sour cream with the addition of herbs and spices.
I was fortunate to be introduced to this dish by our dear friends Vadim and Yelena. Many wonderful evenings have been enjoyed relaxing in the couples backyard, gathered together with friends and family, sipping wine, savoring amazing food over lively conversation and laughter (and a vodka or two). Vadim is the grill master of the family and loves to have something cooking on the fire. The Russian chicken is a favorite at their house, and I have been lucky to learn first hand his method for preparing this traditional delight.
To prepare Russian Shashlik:
Cooks Note: Spices can be added, omitted, or adjusted for personal taste.
- 2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 – 3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts), cubed
In a large bowl mix together sour cream, lemon, and oil. Add garlic, onion, and spices. Mix well. Cut chicken thighs into 1½ cubes. Combine chicken into sour cream mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Pack chicken cubes onto skewers and grill slowly over medium low heat until golden brown. (To avoid tearing chicken from skewers allow each side to sear or brown before attempting to turn).