Mix together all the marinade ingredients except the chicken and onions.
An optional step is to cut the chicken thighs in half, so they cook faster and the marinade penetrates better. If you leave them whole it will take another 10 minutes to cook through. Add the chicken and onions to the marinade and set aside for 30 minutes, up to 23 hours.
Turn the oven on to 425°F (220°C) and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chicken pieces and the onions on the baking sheet. If you divide the chicken in two batches it browns a bit better, but you can simply roast them altogether on one pan.
Roast for 10 minutes and then turn the chicken over. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes until it is cooked through. If you want to brown the meat more, broil for 3 to 5 minutes. You can also grill or sauté the chicken in a large frying pan on the stovetop.
Quick Pickled Onions
Mix all the ingredients except the onions together and stir to until the sugar dissolves. Add the onions and allow to sit for an hour. Keep in the refrigerator until needed.
Easy Tahini Sauce
In a blender, process the lemon juice and garlic by pulsing about 15 times. This will not be a smooth purée. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the pulp and discard. If you are using garlic purée, simply mix it with the lemon juice.
Add the cumin and tahini paste and mix well. Add water a tablespoon at a time and mix together. Like chocolate, the paste will seize up. Keep the faith and keep mixing in water until you have a light smooth sauce.
Taste for seasonings and add salt and more lemon juice to taste. You will have about 3/4 cup of tahini sauce. Double the recipe if you would like to use it for something else because it will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. Think roasted veggies, cold chicken, noodles, rice, salads, and more.
I typically have fresh ginger and garlic paste in the freezer. If you don’t have the prepared ingredient, either grate or finely mince the amount needed.
Use the red chili you prefer. Aleppo pepper or gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) would work well. Otherwise, any ground chili will do, but know the heat level you are working with and don’t overdo it. You can always add more pepper after cooking your chicken shawarma. And make sure you are not using the Southwestern chili powder that includes cumin, paprika, garlic powder, etc.