- 2 heads worth garlic cloves, peeled (about 3/4 cup)
- kosher salt
- 2 cups neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
- 4 large dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 large head garlic
- 3/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1½ tablespoons za'atar
- 2 tablespoons hawaij spice blend
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
- 3/4 tablespoon onion powder
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 pounds chicken wings, patted dry
A shawarma meal can present a wonderful array of textures, flavors, sauces and accompaniments. Think: za'atar, Aleppo pepper and hawaij, an awesome mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and turmeric. I've tried to bring some of those wonderful combinations to the universally beloved chicken wing. In keeping with the theme, I created a dipping sauce to serve on the side, which is reminiscent of the toum (garlic sauce) found at many amazing shawarma restaurants. This one gets a bit of sweetness from dates and smoky heat from Aleppo pepper.
Technique tip: When you cut the garlic in half, if you see any green in the center, make sure to remove it with a paring knife. This is called the "germ" and it can intensify the garlic too much. If your grill gives you the luxury of direct and indirect heat, finish the wings with direct heat to get a nice smoky crust.
Swap option: If you don't have a grill or air fryer, these wings can be made in the oven. Bake them at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes or so. If you can't find hawaij, you can make a substitute using a blend of 1½ tablespoons turmeric, 3/4 tablespoon smoked paprika and 1 tablespoon onion powder.
Special equipment: To recreate the flavor and textures you would find with shawarma, I would recommend grilling these wings. It can be done on a smokeless grill (like the Phillips or Brevell), a standard barbecue grill or even a George Foreman. My second vote would be an air fryer, but if using, make sure you stop midway through and flip them to make sure they get evenly crispy.
For the sauce:1.
Add the garlic cloves to a food processor with a generous pinch of salt. Blend thoroughly until garlic is a stiff paste, scraping as needed.2.
With the food processor running, slowly stream in about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of neutral oil. Stop motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl.3.
Add dates, a pinch of salt and lemon juice and continue to blend. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure a smooth consistency with all ingredients incorporated.4.
Add Aleppo pepper and blend. With the food processor running, slowly stream in 1/2 cups to 3/4 cups of oil until desired consistency is reached. Blend until smooth. The sauce will keep in fridge for a week.
For the wings:1.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.2.
Cut roughly a half inch off the top of a head of garlic to expose all the cloves. Place cut garlic head on sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle exposed cloves with olive oil, then seal aluminum foil pouch, taking care not to seal too tightly, in order to allow steam to be trapped and not to touch the cloves with the foil. Roast garlic in top rack of oven for 35 minutes. Set aside.3.
In a large, nonreactive mixing bowl, combine yogurt, 3/4 cup olive oil, parsley, dill, za'atar, hawaij, salt, cinnamon, allspice, onion powder, black pepper, vinegar and lemon juice.4.
Take cooled head of roasted garlic and squeeze all cloves into yogurt mixture. Stir thoroughly to combine.5.
Add wings to bowl with yogurt marinade mixture and, using gloved hands or tongs, coat wings thoroughly on all sides. When wings are coated, put them and any excess marinade into a gallon-sized, freezer-safe, zip-top bag. Let wings marinate for one hour at a minimum and up to 24 hours.6.
Preheat grill. If using coals, set up two zones: direct and indirect heat. Grab a wad of paper towels and thoroughly coat it in oil. Using tongs, rub the oil all over the grill grate.7.
Place the wings on the grill, flipping often, about 30 minutes, or until juices run clear from the wings when pierced with a fork. If using zone cooking, start the wings on direct heat, then move to indirect, then finish on direct heat. Remove wings from grill and let rest for a few minutes.8.
Serve hot with dipping sauce.