Chicken Shashlik with Pink Onions and Pomegranate

Tangles of paper-thin raw onion accompany kebabs of all forms in Uzbekistan. Here a quick pickling takes away the raw astringency, leaving the onion sweet and tangy with bursts of tart pomegranate. A perfect match for charred, garlicky morsels of chicken. 

Serves 4

For the chicken shashlik   

  • 8–12 chicken skinless thigh fillets

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed

  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • oil, for grilling

For the pink onions and pomegranate  

  • 2 white onions

  • 100ml red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • ½ tablespoon salt

  • 1 pomegranate



Cut the chicken thighs into chunks, removing any skin, fat or sinew as you go. Mix the remaining ingredients together to make a marinade and toss with the chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you are using wooden rather than metal skewers, put them in water to soak at this stage which will stop them burning when you cook. 

To prepare the onions, slice into very thin half-moons with a sharp knife. Shake together the vinegar, sugar and salt in a screw-top jar until dissolved. Add the onion and leave to steep at room temperature for 10 minutes. 

Drain off the vinegar, squeezing out as much liquid as you can, then tip the pink-tinged onions into a bowl. Scatter with the seeds and juice of the pomegranate. 

When you are ready to start cooking, thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers. Preheat a griddle pan over a high heat and brush with oil. Grill the kebabs for 10–15 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through and charred. Serve with the onions and non bread. 


Recipe: Eleanor Ford          Image: Laura Edwards         Taken from: Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford