I’ll confess that I enjoy being a bit of a kitchen alchemist, and dabbling playfully in all of the many options available in my spice cabinet. I consider spices and various seasonings my “magical powders”, and get a thrill out of combining them with some good oil, herbs, citrus juices and zests, and blending them into some glorious elixirs that fragrantly infuse and flavor all sorts of willing candidates. For me, the more spices the better, especially when it comes to a simple meal such as a grilled chicken sandwich wrap; and because there are typically only a handful of ingredients in a “portable pal” of this sort, it creates the perfect vessel for those magical powders to heat things up and warm the soul, not to mention the taste buds.
Deep, earthy spices such as cumin, cinnamon, ginger, coriander and turmeric are those precious spices that warm to the core; and when sprinkled over a simple chicken breast that has been lightly bathed in good olive oil plus a little squeeze of lemon, and are allowed to penetrate to its very center, create an amazingly rich and comforting balance of flavors, perfect for a luscious grab-n-go wrap. When grilled, the chicken takes on the succulent flavors of the slightly charred spices; and when paired with a mildly-sweet, tangy and rich eggplant, tomato and onion chutney topped with just a mild sprinkling of fresh, cool mint, plus a creamy, spicy hummus spread to tie everything together, then the result is the perfect little portable sandwich wrap to enjoy if you yourself are a kitchen alchemist, or at least like to eat like one.
Oh the flavors that can be experienced with the many spices found on a market’s spice-shelves, or in your very own cabinet, if you’re a kitchen alchemist-type like me — flavors that will warm up any mood, and whisk you away to a place where bland does not exist, warming your belly and soul in the most delicious way possible. A “Spiced Moroccan Chicken Wrap” with all of the rich accoutrements within it is the perfect pick to experience some kitchen magic with, and to revel in the flavor of; it’s a simple yet unique meal, a perfectly “portable pal”, that you’ll be dreaming of enjoying, again and again.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Spiced Moroccan Chicken Wrap with Grilled Eggplant, Tomato and Onion Chutney, with Spicy Hummus Spread and Fresh Mint
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(Makes 4 wraps)
2 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
2 cloves garlic pressed through garlic press
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
• Pinch cayenne pepper
4 wooden skewers
• Eggplant, Tomato & Onion Chutney (recipe below)
• Spicy Hummus Spread(recipe below)
4 pieces Middle Eastern flatbread, or pita
-Place the chunks of chicken into a bowl, and add about 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil; next, add a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper, and the rest of the ingredients through the pinch of cayenne pepper; toss the ingredients well to coat, and skewer the chicken pieces as equally as possible with the 4 wooden skewers; set the chicken aside to marinate for 20-30 minutes, or even overnight if you’re doing this ahead.
-While the chicken marinates, prepare the Eggplant, Tomato & Onion Chutney (recipe below).
-Next, prepare the Spicy Hummus Spread (recipe below).
-Grill the chicken skewers on a grill pan or outdoor grill for a few minutes per side, or until the chicken is slightly charred and cooked through; place onto a platter to hold.
-To assemble to sandwich wraps, spread a generous amount of the Spicy Hummus Spread over each of the 4 pieces of flatbread; next, slide the chicken pieces off of the skewer in a row in the center of each wrap (1 skewer per wrap), and top the chicken with a couple of spoonfuls of the Eggplant, Tomato & Onion Chutney; bring the two sides of the flatbread together, and secure with toothpicks if needed, or wrap in parchment paper to hold the wrap together while you enjoy.
Eggplant, Tomato & Onion Chutney ingredients:
• Olive oil
1 small onion, quartered and sliced
• Black pepper
2 small Japanese eggplants, or 1 very small “globe” eggplant, diced into small pieces (about 1 ½ cups worth)
3 Roma tomatoes, diced into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint
½ teaspoon lemon juice
-Place a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and add in about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil; once the oil is hot, add in the sliced onions, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for about 5-6 minutes until a light, golden-brown.
-Next, add in the diced eggplant, plus a pinch of salt, and saute it with the onion for about 2-3 minutes, or until a light golden-brown and slightly tender (add more olive oil if the mixture seems dry).
-Next, add in the diced Roma tomatoes, plus another small pinch of salt and pepper, and saute the mixture for about 8 minutes, or until everything begins to break down and resemble a “jam” or a chutney, and is a deeper golden-brown.
-Finally, add in the garlic, and saute for an additional 2 minutes; finish the chutney with the lemon juice and the fresh mint, plus another drizzle of olive oil to make it glossy and rich, and check to see if additional salt and pepper is necessary; set aside and keep warm until ready to use.
Spicy Hummus Spread ingredients:
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove of garlic
1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon plus a pinch salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
-Place all ingredients through the pinch of cayenne into the bowl of a food processor, and process for several moments until mostly smooth; with the processor running, slowly add in the olive oil and process until the spread is very smooth, scraping the sides down if necessary; transfer the hummus spread into a bowl or container, and set aside until ready to use.