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Enjoy Souvlaki on your Barbecue

Tired of the usual hamburgers on the Barbecue? Why not entertain your family and friends by Barbecuing the Greek or Cypriot way with a Souvlaki or Souvla Barbecue.

Whilst Souvlaki and Souvla are similar there are differences :


The origin of this is in Greece. It is small pieces of meat or vegetables grilled on a skewer over the barbeque coals.

Accompany this with pita bread, lemon potatoes, and tzatziki sauce. Wrap the large pita breads around the meat chunks.

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The origin is mainly Cypriot. The meat chunks are much large than souvlaki. Cooking takes place on a rotisserie skewer. The “kebab” type chunks are large and often a whole cut (i.e. Barbecued lamb shoulder) over the coals. Sliced meat is served in a pocket pita bread with salads and tzatziki.

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The Fire

It is important that before Barbecuing this way, that the coals are white hot and there are NO flames.

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Preparing the skewers.

  • Consider marinating your meat first. Experts do not recommend marinating for longer than 12 hrs.
  • Oil the skewers before adding the meat. This tip allows for easy removal of meat.
  • Thread the skewer through your meat pieces interleaving with onion and green pepper slices.
  • Leave the meat skewers to stand for a short while to allow the excess marinade liquid to drip off.

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On the coals  

If you have a Barbecue that has built in rotisserie then all the better. Most Barbecue specialists will stock a simple motorized rotisserie unit .

Pork and Chicken should cook fairly slowly. It is important to cook thoroughly but remaining succulent .

Beef and Lamb can cook quicker and at a higher heat .

Rottisering meat ensures a tender and succulent finish as the meat self bastes when cooking .

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Here is a recipe for Lamb Souvla.


  • 1 Lamb Shoulder
  • 3 tbs. of Oil preferably Olive Oil
  • 2 tbs. dried Oregano
  • 1 tbs. Salt
  • 1/2 tbs. Black Ground Pepper
  • 1 Lemon -to apply after cooking

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Souvla Method

  1. In a large bowl place the lamb chunks, olive oil, and dry seasonings. Coat the lamb.
  2. Push the skewer through the lamb. If possible push the skewer through the bone.
  3. If you are barbecuing more than one piece of meat try not to crowd the skewer.
  4. Put the skewer over the coals leaving a space of about 12 inches. Turn the motor on to start the rotisserie. After approx. 1 ½ hour check how tender the lamb is. The lamb bone may start piercing through the cooked meat. Alternately, you can grill lamb kebobs on your backyard grill. Cooking time for lamb is the same as Beef.  Rare: 115 to 120°F Medium-rare: 120 to 125°F Medium: 130 to 135°F Medium-well: 140 to 145°F Well-done: 150 to 155°F
  5. Take the lamb off the skewer and cover with foil. It should rest for 15 minutes before serving. Lastly, squeeze the lemon over it just before carving.
  6. Serve your Souvla with pita bread pockets, salad, and tzatziki.

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Recipe for Tzatziki Sauce

  • 150g Yogurt ( Greek)
  • 1/2 Cucumber peeled de-seeded and grated
  • 3 whole  crushed Garlic
  • 1 tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped Mint or Dill
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  1. Sprinkle salt over the cucumber and place in a sieve. This will allow the cucumber to drain.
  2. Combine the drained cucumber with the other ingredients and mix.
  3. The sauce benefits from allowing the flavors to develop over a few hours.

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Why not start your Barbecue season with  Greek/ Cypriot entertaining . Serve the traditional pita breads, sauces, grilled veggies and lemon potatoes for a special meal .

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