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With a Nod the Middle East

A few years ago, we were invited over to some dear friends’ house for dinner.  They’d made an incredible adult dinner, but while we drank wine and caught up (we never get to see each other as frequently as we’d like!) our friend Bora (who hails from Turkey) whipped up something quick to give the kiddos.  He sliced up come skinless boneless chicken breasts, tossed the slices with olive oil and za’atar, and grilled them over a blazing hot grill (they cooked for about 1 1/2 minutes) and then he brought them in and squeezed fresh lemon juice over the chicken.  While I knew his wife Yola had prepared a feast for us, I kept sneaking bites of the boys’ chicken.  And Voila!  “Bora’s Chicken” became a staple in our house.  (See recipe below)

Bora's chicken over arugula and balela

Bora’s chicken over arugula and balela

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I served it over a simple arugula salad (tossed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, & sea salt) and balela (thanks Trader Joes for bringing this to my world! See my recipe below) and garlic dip (I’ve got to come up with a better name – any suggestions?)


  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 T good quality olive oil
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients in bowl and let sit as long as you can.  Minimum 30 minutes.  Overnight would be great.

Bora’s Chicken

  • 2 Large skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2″ cutlets (or you can use a package of TJ’s chicken breast tenders and cut each one in half lengthwise)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T za’atar (I make my own version (2T dried thyme, 2T sumac, 1T toasted sesame seeds, 1t kosher salt, 1t black pepper), but you can buy it in Middle Eastern grocery stores.  I also saw it at my local Whole Foods.)

Heat grill to the hottest you can get it.  While grill is heating up, toss chicken strips with oil and za’atar – stirring to coat the chicken.  Don’t do it earlier b/c the chicken will get dried out.  Not sure why – just trust me that marinating it did not help.

When grill is HOT, toss the chicken on the heat and remove when done (about 1.5 minutes).  Do not over cook – the goal is to flash cook it so the moisture gets trapped inside.

Remove from grill and squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon over the chicken.  Try not to eat it all before you serve it to your family.

Garlic Dip

  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt (buy the thickest kind you can buy – preferably without any gums and junk added.  This is my favorite – it’s even thicker than greek yogurt… almost closer to cream cheese)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Stir all ingredients together.  Add more lemon or salt if you like it saltier or lemonier.  Go ahead, I won’t mind.  Heck, you could even add more yogurt or garlic if you wanted it LESS salty or lemony or more garlicy.  I’m flexible about it.  Make yourself happy.