Check out my recipe for this famous Lebanese kebab - Shawarma, a cousin of a Turkish doner kebab from the middle eastern region.
In this recipe, the most important principle of amazing flavour is marinating the chicken thighs in a special Lebanese spice blend. To achieve the best result I recommend you to do it overnight or at least for 2 hours before cooking. The spice blend is based on two main ingredients, ground coriander and paprika. Three supportive, black pepper, cumin and fenugreek seeds, and Five supplementary, allspice, clove, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. For this combination, you can also add a little bit of sumac if you like.
I recommend you ground your spices in a small grinder for the best aroma, it only costs a few dollars but it makes a huge difference.
The meat marinate also includes fresh garlic and ginger plus lemon juice as it helps to penetrate flavours deeper into the meat. To grill the meat I use two metal skewers and an oven roasting dish as this helps to imitate the kebab cooking process at home kitchen. You can also use your garden bbq if you like.
Shawarma is usually served inside pita bread or wrapped in a grilled flatbread Laffa or Saj. I will show you how to prepare your own delicious flatbread for this dish.
It is super easy and you can prepare it in no time but If you are super busy you can always buy some in your local store :)
It is also worth mentioning that traditionally Shawarma is served without a fresh salad, only with pickled cucumbers or turnip, drizzled with garlic sauce (Toum) and served with fries.
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Ingredients for the Lebanese spice blend:
(Enough to make this recipe twice)
1tbsp ground coriander
1tsp black pepper
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp of ground fenugreek seeds
1/4tsp ground allspice berry
1/4tsp ground cloves
1/4tsp ground cardamom seeds
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
Ingredients for the Laffa flatbread:
(Makes 6 medium ones)
360g (12.7oz) of sieved plain flour plus extra for dusting
240g (8.5oz) lukewarm water
10g (0.35oz) of salt
1tsp of sugar
1tbsp of instant yeast
1tbsp of olive oil
Ingredients for the Shawarma:
650g (1.4 pounds) of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
juice of half a lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
1tsp of minced ginger
1tbsp of refined olive oil
half of the Lebanese spice blend
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
Cucumber, cut in half and sliced
Pickled element of the salad (Lacto fermented cucumbers or red sauerkraut)
Toum (Lebanese garlic sauce made of yoghurt, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice)
Instructions for the Laffa flatbread:
Combine lukewarm water with sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate.
Mix yeast mixture with flour, salt and olive oil and knead for 5-8 minutes, you can do it by hand or electric stand mixer. Once the dough is ready, leave it to prove for one hour or until doubled in size. (In the winter months I always warm up the metal bowl with running hot water before adding the dough as it speeds up the process).
Divide the dough into 6 parts and roll into balls, second prove for 10 minutes. (Dust the dough balls with flour to prevent them from drying out).
Roll each ball into a thin circle that fits onto your pan (use flour for dusting) You can use a grill outside your house if the weather is good.
Bake the flatbreads on medium-high heated frying or griddle pan. It takes around a couple of minutes on each side.
Instructions for the Shawarma:
Begin by preparing chicken thighs, remove the skin and bones from the meat and cut each thigh in half. Marinate the meat in a bowl with half the amount of Lebanese spice blend, 1tbsp of olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 3 minced garlic cloves and 1tsp of minced ginger. Place in the fridge overnight or marinate for at least 2 hours.
Poke all the meat onto two metal skewers and place it inside the roasting dish. Place in the middle shelf in the oven and set on the grill setting 200C (392F). Grill for 20 minutes then turn upside down, continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill it in your garden if the weather is nice :)
Once the meat is nicely grilled on both sides, remove from the oven and take off the skewer, shred it with a knife ready to serve.
Build your Shawarma by topping the bread with meat juices, salad, shredded meat and sauces, wrap and enjoy, you can also wrap it in paper and tinfoil for more of the street food experience.
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