2tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oilplus a little more as needed
2poundsboneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 ½teaspoonskosher saltplus more as needed
1teaspoonground black pepper
½teaspoonground white pepper
½cup plus 2 tablespoonsextra-virgin olive oil
¼cupplain whole-milk Greek yogurt
3tablespoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice
½cuppeeled garlic cloves
3cupspacked spinach or escarole leavescut into thin ribbons
For the yufka: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the water and olive oil. Using your fingers, draw the flour in from all sides, working the mixture until it’s sticky and forms into a ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Transfer back to the bowl, drizzle with a little bit of oil, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into three equal pieces; you should have six equal pieces, each weighing about 2 ounces.
Roll out each yufka ball into a very thin 8- to 9-inch round, using plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Stack them on top of each other with a piece of parchment paper between them and plenty of flour or lay them out slightly overlapping on a baking sheet.
Heat an 11- to 12-inch cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat and cook the yufka on one side until it starts to bubble up and lightly brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. You only need to partially cook each flatbread at this stage; don’t get them too crispy or they will be dry and hard to work with. Stack them on top of each other as you cook each one so that they lightly steam and keep each other soft and pliable.
If you are not using immediately, transfer the warm yufka to a large zip-top plastic bag and store at room temperature up to overnight. You can also freeze the yufka for up to 2 weeks. After thawing, reheat briefly in a skillet over medium heat before using.
For the shawarma filling: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large glass or stainless steel mixing bowl, combine the chicken thighs the salt and spices, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 hours.
Place the chicken on a heavy baking sheet and add ½ cup water so that the chicken will start cooking with moist heat. Transfer to the oven and roast until the edges are crisp and brown and the chicken is tender when squeezed with a pair of tongs, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, slice it very thinly.
Meanwhile, make the toum. Combine the garlic and milk in a small stainless steel saucepan over low heat. Poach the garlic until it is soft and tender and has absorbed almost all of the milk, about 40 minutes. Put the garlic in the blender with the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1⁄2 cup olive oil. Blend until smooth and creamy and season with salt to taste.
Divide the chicken mixture among the yufka, spreading it in a strip along one edge to within 1 inch of the sides. Top the chicken with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce and about ½ cup spinach. Roll up the shawarma tightly, resting them on their seam sides to keep them closed.
Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the shawarma, seam side down, until brown and crisped on that side (do not flip), about 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
You can substitute commercial yufka, country-style phyllo, or lavash bread, but the results won’t be as flaky and tender as the yufka you make from scratch. All of the above substitutes are precooked so you can fill them and toast them as described in each recipe.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.