Chicken Shawarma, Anna-style

Since I learned to make my own pitta breads. (I KNOW – get me, yawn…) I make loads of dinners for myself and James with pitta breads on the side. Falafel you can find here, I also make lamb Kofta, (not yet posted this), and sometimes I just do a mezze of salads and humous and various spicy things if we don’t want meat.

I’ve called this shawarma. It kinda isn’t that. It’s not roasted on a spit, for a start, it’s marinated and then roasted in the oven. But the flavours are those you’d expect to get if you were in a middle eastern take-away or restaurant. It has had The Male Seal Of Approval. Which means it is, apparently, pretty good…herbs-and-spices-for-chicken-schwarmaServes 3-4 depending on appetites and whether you serve it with or without some carb on the side.

You have chicken options here:

  1. Buy a 1-1.5kg / 2-3 lb. whole chicken and joint and bone it yourself, if you fancy practising that. I quite enjoy doing it, it’s a bit of Sweeney Todd feeling. Or should that be Mrs Lovett, seeing as she made the pies..? Anyway, the DIY route is, natch, much cheaper than buying it ready cut-up, and is not hard. I’ll post a tutorial one day.
  2. Buy a few of packets of boned breast meat, and if you like brown, some boned thighs as well. You need about 800g to 1.2kg
  3. Don’t bother with removing the bones and just buy the joints you like, bone-in. It will marinade just as well, only take longer to cook. 

If your chicken is bone-free, cut the pieces up into rough generous chunks. As an example, a medium-sized chicken breast I would normally cut into four. Any smaller and it may dry out in the oven or look measly-small on the plate. We like generous food here.

Marinade the chicken bits for at least an hour, on the counter, but up to the whole day if that fits in with your schedule better, in which case put it in the fridge. Marinade ingredients:

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 cloves of crushed garlic
  • half a thumb’s size of fresh ginger root, peeled and crushed or chopped finely
  • chopped fresh coriander – a bunch the size of a lemon when squashed in your hand
  • 1 tsp of dried cumin seeds, freshly ground by you, not the factory.
  • ¼ tsp crushed cardamon seeds (the black seeds from 6 or 7 pods, husks discarded)
  • ¾ tsp smoked paprika

Non-essential ingredients but nice if you have them:

  • 1 tsp Sumac 
  • ¼ tsp turmeric, fresh or dried.

Mix all the above with the chicken pieces and cover the bowl with cling film. Give it a stir whenever you remember, to keep the marinade working.

When you’re ready, pre-heat the oven to 220° / 200º fan. In a large roasting tin so the chicken pieces can be spread out and not be all on top of each other, roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Take them out and give them a shake or turn them over. Roast again another ten minutes and then cut into a couple to see if they’re done the way you like them, put back for another ten mins if not. Boned pieces will take up to an hour. Again, always check by cutting into a piece and seeing if there’s any pink inside. You don’t want pink or traces of blood in a chicken. Not to want to teach any grandmothers to suck eggs. Just doing my food safety thing, like a good girl…

That’s it.  I serve it with a selection of the following, depending on what I’ve got in the fridge or how organised I’ve been:

  • A green spicy sauce called ‘zhoug’ from Jerusalem. I’ll post it one day. 
  • A tahini sauce made by stirring some tahini into some yoghurt, to taste. Sometimes I add a squeeze of harissa paste from a tube, sometimes lemon, sometimes neither. That’s how I roll.
  • A tomato salsa-type salad. Try this.
  • A yoghurt and cucumber raita. Basically chop some cucumber and add it to some yogurt with salt and pepper, garlic if you want, plus mint if you have it.
  • The flageolet bean salad here
  • Plain rice, boiled and then given a final quick stir-fry in a large pan with a glug of olive oil and some garlic. (James made this one up – it’s ace!).
  • Fried potatoes
  • Pitta breads of course

Ok now I’m really hungry….WINGS

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