The process of grilling meat, typically lamb, on a vertical rotisserie stick originated in Bursa, Turkey, dating back to the early 19th century. The method of shaving off meat while it slowly cooked was given the name “Kebab Doner” meaning, kebab, ‘roasted meat’, and doner, ‘to turn’. This cooking technique was later found present in Athens, Greece following the second world war, likely introduced by immigrants. From this, a distinct variation was developed by the Greeks, a pita wrap often served with pork or chicken and topped with homemade tzatziki sauce. The new modification was eventually given the name Gyros.
The city of Athens has greatly been overlooked and under-appreciated over the years. Often referred to as a pit stop on route to the more sought after islands of Greece, the reputation of Athens has slowly diminished. What many people have forgotten about is the rich vibrant culture that overpowers the city and that unlike the small tourist-filled islands, Athens provides the experience of authentic history, food, and the traditional life of Greece. Spend your day touring along the cobblestone roads of Plaka, one of Athens oldest neighbourhoods. Lined with shops and restaurants and dappled by shade from the overhanging bright red and purple bougainvillea vines indulge in some of Greece’s best foods. Or enjoy learning about the history of Greece and marvel at the ancient ruins including the Acropolis and the Parthenon, two of the most significant ancient monuments in Europe.
As you walk along the bustling streets of Athens you become overwhelmed with the scents of fresh-baked sweet baklava and the aroma of octopus being smoked on an open flame. However, there is one flavour that stands out above the rest, the comforting smell of Gryos slowly roasting on a rotating spit. It’s impossible to continue exploring without enjoying one of these heavenly wraps.
Although it is still common to locate traditionally cooked Gyros outside of Athens, the method has been altered slightly, since not everyone nowadays has a vertical rotisserie to cook meat on. Below is a step by step guide to making the best juicy, flavourful, chicken gyros at home to enjoy a little taste of Greece from your own kitchen.
Chicken Gyros Recipe With Tzatziki Sauce
(Thanks to Fotini)
Servings: 4 Wraps
Prep: 10 Mins
Cook: 30 Mins
For The Chicken Gyros:
- 600 grams chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
For The Tzatziki Sauce:
- 250 grams greek yogurt
- 100 grams cucumber
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For The Wraps:
- 4 Pita flatbreads
- 1 tomato cut into thin slices
- 1/2 onion cut into thin slices
- olive oil
For The Chicken Gyros:
- Preheat oven to 250°C / 480°F.
- In a baking dish, add the chicken breasts, paprika, oregano, garlic, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix so the marinade spreads evenly. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the chicken gets a golden brown colour then cut chicken into thin strips.
For The Tzatziki:
- In a mixing bowl, add the yogurt, garlic, dill, vinegar, and olive oil. Grate cucumber (not too thin) and add to the mixture and stir evenly.
For The Wraps:
- Add a drop of olive oil to a frying pan on med-high heat. Add the first pita flatbread. Cook for 3-4 minutes flipping it once. Repeat process for the remaining flatbreads.
- To each flatbread add a couple slices of tomato, onion, chicken and a scoop of tzatziki. Wrap with aluminum foil and serve.
Enjoy! or as the Greeks say “OPA!”