Shawarma is up there as one of my favourites, it's so tasty and the hands down winner over the Turkish Doner or the Greek Gyros. Although it's traditionally cooked on a large skewer, rotisserie style, it's easily possible to recreate this fantastic street food classic at home.
There are dozens of different shawarma recipes and most commonly it's made with lamb, however, chicken thighs work really well and are certainly a more economic choice. I find roasting the thighs with the skin on protects the meat from drying but I do remove the bone from the thigh. This does make for a little extra effort but it's a fairly simple process and the marinade will work it's magic much more effectively.
In many shawarma recipes, there are a dazzling array of spices to roast, grind and blend to give you that distinct flavour. Our simple shawarma spice blend is perfectly balanced and gives you a fantastic result from only one jar.
Tahini is a must for this dish, plus I always make a kind of relish by dicing up fresh tomatoes, cucumber, a little garlic and fresh parsley with a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil - it's freshness works really well with the rich flavours of the shawarma.
This dish really benefits from overnight marinating, so try to get your ingredients the day before you plan on serving.
For the chicken shawarma
1kg skin-on/bone in chicken thighs (8 thighs)
45g shawarma spice blend
15g fresh ginger, finely grated
10g fresh garlic, finely grated (about 4 cloves)
50ml lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
75ml extra virgin olive oil
20g fresh coriander, finely chopped
For the tahini sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons water
For the tomato and cucumber relish
5 ripe fresh tomatoes, diced into small chunks
½ cucumber, seeds removed and diced into small cubes
1 clove of garlic, finely diced/grated
A large sprig of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt
1. Start by removing the bones from the chicken thighs. Using a sharp knife, cut down both sides of the bone, then work the knife around the end to remove. Make three shallow incisions through the skin on the top of the thigh.
2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix. Coat each chicken thigh with an even amount of the marinade on all sides. As with any marinade, the more time you can give it the better, so it's best to marinade your chicken overnight.
3. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
4. Place the chicken thighs on an oiled roasting tin, skin side up and cook for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 180°C and cook for a further 15 minutes. The cooking time could vary depending on the size of the thighs.
5. Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the tahini sauce by whisking together all the ingredients, adding the water at the end until you have a smooth single cream consistency.
6. I also make the tomato and cucumber salad, by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl.
5. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
6. Serve with toasted pitta breads and bulgur wheat or freekeh.
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I keep reaching for our delicious Pickled Lemon Paste. It's intense lemon flavour provides a great lift to so many dishes whether it's a stew, sauce, dressing or marinade. This little salad is really quick and simple to prepare. The liquorice flavour of fennel is perfectly suited to carrying strong flavours...
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