Tavuk Izgara

Turkish-Style Grilled Chicken with Yogurt and Cumin

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

This is one of the easiest and tastiest grilled chicken dishes that I know. As in the Indian tandoori chicken, the yogurt in the marinade acts as a tenderizer. While you could use ground cumin, I prefer to toast the cumin seeds and grind them in a spice mill as they are more fragrant. The chicken should marinate overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for two to three hours. Serve with rice pilaf with pine nuts and currants and sautéed zucchini with dill and tomatoes.


  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 12 boneless chicken thighs, about 2 to 2½ pounds, or 4 half-broilers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving


Toast the cumin seeds in a small sauté pan over medium heat until the seeds are fragrant and start to pop in the pan. Remove from the heat and grind in a spice mill.

Place the cumin onion, garlic, paprika, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender and pulse to liquefy. Add the yogurt and pulse just until blended.

Put the chicken thighs in a shallow nonaluminum baking dish or bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the broiler or make a charcoal fire. Thread the thighs if using on 4 skewers. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Broil or grill until the juices run clear, about 6 minutes each side. Serve hot with lemon wedges.