Tavuk Kebabi

    Tavuk Kebabi (Mint and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Chicken Kebabs)

A thick, flavorful marinade of mint, Aleppo pepper, and Turkish sweet red pepper paste caramelizes on the outside of these grilled chicken kebabs.

1 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 tbsp. finely chopped thyme
1 tbsp. Aleppo pepper
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. Turkish sweet red pepper paste
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ pieces
6 (12″) metal skewers


Mix oil, mint, chile flakes, thyme, Aleppo pepper, tomato paste, red pepper paste, black pepper, and salt in a bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side. Remove chicken from marinade; thread onto skewers. Grill on hottest part of grill, turning as needed, until chicken is slightly charred and cooked through, 12–15 minutes. If the outside starts to burn before the chicken is fully cooked, move to the cooler side of the grill until done.

Notes:If you don’t have a Middle Eastern market nearby, you can easily make your own sweet red pepper paste. Simply roast, peel, and seed sweet red peppers, puree in blender or food processor, and then sauté in a small skillet until the paste has darkened to a brick red color and thickened (stir frequently over medium heat to prevent the paste from burning). Two large sweet red bell peppers made enough paste for this recipe, but you may want to make a larger batch- the paste is really good, and can be used to jazz up salads, dressing, mayo, and sandwiches.

Aleppo pepper is currently unavailable (and the stuff that is on the shelves is likely either old or fake). Why? Quick geography quiz: Where’s Aleppo? Right, Aleppo is in Syria, which is currently in the middle of a massive, catastrophic civil war. This means many things, most all of which are far more important than where we get our spices. However, you can substitute a different Turkish pepper like Antebi (fruitier and milder), Marash (spicier and smoky), or Urfa (darker and much smokier flavor). Some cooks also recommend Korean Gochugaru pepper as a substitute for Aleppo. You can also make a substitute using spices you may already have in your kitchen- combine four parts sweet paprika plus one part cayenne pepper- which will get you close to the flavor of Aleppo pepper.