If I had to survive on only one type of cuisine (other than Indian food) for the rest of my life, then that would be Mediterranean. I love Greek food, which makes up a part of Mediterranean cuisine. My favorite Greek food are gyros – lamb or chicken, it doesn’t matter. I have had it at fancy restaurants, family owned establishments and greasy mall outlets. And I am yet to have a gyro wrap that I didn’t enjoy.
I cannot make up my mind on what exactly makes a gyro so special. Is it the bread? Is it the meat? Or is it the tzatziki sauce? I think they all come together for one hugely satisfying mouthful.
I regularly make tzatziki sauce at home, and I’ve also been perfecting Greek style flatbread and souvlaki meat with all the traditional fixings. So what you see here are all homemade gyro wraps. Everything made from scratch. Except I didn’t grow the vegetables (or the chicken, for that matter…ha!!).
But take a look at those flatbreads again. The recipe is so simple and so forgiving, you cannot mess it up. I used part whole wheat and part all-purpose flours this time. I’ve also made this with all whole wheat and it is equally good.
As for the chicken, I didn’t use skewers for the meat, so this is not a soulvaki in the traditional sense of the word. I marinated and oven-grilled three large chicken thighs and then sliced them. Chicken thighs are my favorite cut of meat and I prefer to use them over chicken breasts any day. But use what you prefer. If you use boneless breast pieces and a couple of skewers, your job will be easier. But I like I said, I love the flavor of dark meat and the slight fatty richness it has compared to white meat.
It’s the flavors that you add to the chicken that really make this gyro amazing. There is Greek yogurt, lime juice, fresh dill leaves and oregano, of course. To this, I also added a generous sprinkling of sumac, my favorite condiment/spice right now. This stuff is so flavorful and fragrant, almost exotic. It has a distinct earthy, lemony taste. I also used cilantro, though it is not a very common Mediterranean herb. But I am so used to it and love it more than parsley or thyme, so I used it generously. And what do you know, cilantro goes perfectly with dill and sumac. It’s like they are meant to be together!
This is a very simple recipe though you have quite a few components. But aside from the resting times for the flatbread dough and marinated chicken, the rest of it goes along quickly and smoothly.
Read on for the recipes. Start on the flatbreads or pocketless pita bread first. They can be made ahead and stored for 1-2 days in the refrigerator also. Re-heat on a hot skillet or in the oven before making the gyro wraps.
GREEK STYLE FLATBREADS (POCKETLESS PITA BREAD)
You will need:
- Water – 2/3 cup, should be very warm to the touch, but not boiling hot
- Milk – 1/2 cup, should be very warm to the touch, but not boiling hot
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Active dry yeast – 3 tsp
- Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
- All-purpose flour – 1 cup
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp
- Fresh dill leaves – 2 tbsp, torn
- Fresh cilantro leaves – a few stalks, roughly chopped
- In a medium bowl, stir the sugar and yeast into the warm water and milk. Allow the yeast to proof, around 10 minutes. If the yeast is good, the mixture will be frothy and have a distinct yeasty smell to it.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of whole wheat and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flours, salt and oil. Add the yeast mixture to it and start mixing it. Sprinkle in another 1/2 cup of flour till the dough comes together. Feel free to add more flour if you are not able to handle the dough, but it should be very sticky initially.
- Tip it out onto a clean working surface and start kneading it. In 5-8 minutes, the dough will be smooth and elastic. Lightly coat the dough with oil and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place for an hour or so.
- After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down gently and divide the dough into 6 large or 8 medium-sized balls. Cover with a kitchen towel again and allow to rest for a further 15 minutes.
- To make the flatbreads, gently roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured surface till it is 6″-8″ round with uniform thickness. Scatter a few of the herbs on its surface and gently stick them in with your fingertips or run over with your rolling-pin gently.
- Heat a griddle on medium heat. Place the rolled out dough on the griddle and cook the flatbread till golden with brown spots on both sides, a couple of minutes per side. If you have rolled out the dough uniformly, it will puff up nicely.
- Once done, remove flatbread from griddle and keep warm, lightly covered with a kitchen towel. Repeat till all the dough is used up.
- I am sure you can use your food processor with the dough hook attachment to knead the dough. But since I do not have it, I am not very sure of the time and consistency. But please use your hands, it is a very therapeutic affair!
- I always use active dry yeast and proof it before using in any recipe. You can use the equivalent amount of instant yeast, but even then I would advise you to proof it first.
CHICKEN GYRO WRAPS
You will need: (Makes 6 gyros)
For the grilled chicken,
- Chicken thighs – 3, large (I use bone-in pieces and then carve the meat, but you can use boneless as well)
- Greek yogurt – 2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 3 tbsp
- Vinegar – 2 tbsp (I used white vinegar, but use red wine vinegar if you have it)
- Lime – 1, juiced
- Garlic – 2 large cloves, finely chopped
- Fresh dill leaves – 2 tbsp
- Dried oregano – 2 tsp
- Sumac – 2 tsp
- Freshly cracked black pepper – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Oil – to brush while grilling
For tzatziki sauce,
- Greek yogurt – 2 cups
- Cucumber – 1 small, peeled and de-seeded
- Garlic – 1 clove, finely minced
- Fresh dill leaves – 1 tbsp
- Lime juice – 1-2 tsp
- Salt and pepper – to taste
For chicken gyro wraps,
- Greek style flatbread – 6
- Grilled chicken slices – from 3 large thighs (see above)
- Tzatziki sauce – 2 cups (see above)
- Red onion – 1, thinly sliced
- Tomatoes – 3, sliced
- Cucumber – 1 large, diced
- Cilantro leaves – a small bunch, torn roughly (or replace with flat-leaf parsley)
- Grilled Chicken: Wash chicken thighs and pat dry. Combine chicken with all the marinade ingredients, cover and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight, if you have time.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and place a grilling rack over a rimmed baking pan. Arrange the chicken thighs on the rack, shaking off excess marinade juices and lightly brush with oil.
- Roast for 30-40 minutes or till juices run clear when poked in the thickest part of the thigh. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving meat from the bones.
- Tzatziki Sauce: Grate the cucumber, add 1/2 tsp salt and place it in a fine mesh strainer for 10-15 minutes to let out the water.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill leaves and lime juice. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated till needed.
- Chicken Gyro Wraps: Arrange the grilled chicken slices and vegetables on a warm flatbread. Drizzle tzatziki sauce on top and garnish with cilantro leaves (or parsley).
- Roll the flatbread from both sides and secure with a toothpick or cover tightly with foil wrap. Serve warm with more tzatziki sauce on the side.
- You can use boneless chicken pieces for the souvlaki as it is done traditionally. Slice chicken into thick strips, marinate them as mentioned above, then skewer them on long wood or metal skewers and bake in the oven or grill on an open grill. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
- If you are using store-bought flatbreads, warm them up on a hot griddle first.
- You can use the meat, vegetables and tzatziki sauce to stuff inside pita bread pockets as well.
- Though it is almost sacrilegious, you can try a vegetarian version of the wraps with grilled eggplant or dare I say it out aloud… chunks of Indian cottage cheese or paneer!
I am sure you will absolutely love this Greek delight. Once you see how easy it is to make the flatbread, chicken and tzatziki sauce at home, you can have gyro wraps any time you crave them! I hope you do try this recipe.
So tell me, do you love Mediterranean flavors? Have you made any flatbreads from scratch? Do share.
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
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- By Stephanie Lynn