Home of the universally adored kebab, there are thousands of ways to grill chicken in the Middle East depending on what country you're in. You can argue for the validity of each, but in my opinion Lebanese food is some of the best out there. The meat starts off with a brief vinegar bath to clean it and is then marinated overnight in a combination of olive oil, lemon, and additional spices like cumin, paprika, or cinnamon with a metric shitload of garlic before touching the grill, which is traditionally a low-sitting, rectangular grill known as a manqal, a low.
The manqal is a popular option in the Middle East on account of the fact that it's portable, meaning you can bring the gift of grilling with you wherever you go. The fat from the meat continually drips down onto the coals, which vaporizes and creates that delicious smoky flavor that caresses the chicken ever so tenderly.
Kebabs are the most convenient way to grill chicken using this method, with skewers generally alternating pieces of chicken between tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers before being served with toum bi zeit -- that famous white garlic sauce that tastes good on anything.
How to do it at home: The manqal adds way more flavor to your chicken on account of the fact that it's charcoal-based, but it's not absolutely mandatory, and you can easily use one of those square grills in a nearby park to similar effect.
Clean and cut your meat into kebab-sized bites before hitting it with a marinade packed with spice and citrus. Cover and refrigerate, then string your pieces along onto wet skewers, giving them a little space and alternating with whatever fresh veggies you've got on hand. Grill on low to medium heat for about 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Add on some tabbouleh salad and pita bread to round the whole thing out. Get your hands on a legit Lebanese recipe right here.
Grilling in Turkey is done by placing meat on lumps of charred hardwood, which infuses the meat with an intoxicating smell as they cook. Unlike the Lebanese-style skewers, Turkish kebabs don't usually alternate between veggies and meat on the same stick. They're flavored with a lot of the same elements as their Middle Eastern counterparts but change things up depending on the region, and can include other elements like dill, caraway, and thyme. Using yogurt in the marinade is common technique that helps keep the kebab moist.
How to do it at home: Mix spices with yogurt for marinade; cover and chill at least 1 hour. While that happens, get an even layer of hardwood charcoal nice and hot until your coals are covered in light gray ash. If you're opting for a gas grill, set it to medium and give it 10 minutes to preheat before adding your meat to the grill. Keep in mind that charred hardwood burns hotter than charcoal (and imparts better flavor to boot), so you'll want to make a smaller or more spread out fire than you would with briquettes.
Add meat and turn skewers once they char on each side for a total cooking time of about 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer to a plate and go nuts. This recipe includes Aleppo pepper, a fruity, spicy pepper native to the Syrian town of Aleppo near the Turkish border. You can always substitute cayenne in a pinch, too.
A stroll down any street in Thailand will reveal a number of food vendors grilling away a variety of delectables, with powerful aromas of lemongrass, chili, and kaffir lime wafting through the air. You can find plenty of meat up for grabs, but the dish you'll want to shoot for is the classic gai yang. Originating in the northeastern region of Thailand, Isan, gai yang is a popular dish characterized by crispy skin coated in spices, fish sauce, and sugar. The chicken is butterflied, flattened, and looped through bamboo skewers and slowly grilled over a bed of charcoal. Recipes vary throughout the region, but the dish is traditionally served with a chili dipping sauce and som tam (green papaya salad) with sticky rice to cleanse the palate.
How to do it at home: Make marinade by crushing herbs and spices in a mortar and pestle or with a food processor. Set aside. Butterfly your chicken and thread on skewers. Meanwhile, prep your grill so that one side has all of the coals piled on high and none on the other. This helps ensure the legs cook through faster than the breasts without drying out your meat. Find the recipe and full how-to here.