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Chicken Shawarma

Introduction & method

Shawarmas must be the most typical street food of the Middle East. They are very cheap and you can find them at cafés, markets and street carts. Just don't expect to find them in posh malls and hotels! The shawarma is similar to a döner kebab and it's quite easy to make your own. The only question is, do you put french fries in or not?

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Marinade the Chicken

Mix together all of the marinade ingredients. Slice the chicken breasts horizontally so each one becomes two thin fillets. Coat the fillets in the marinade mixture, cover and leave in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

Make the Shawarma Sauce

There are numerous versions of shawarma sauce kicking about, but this is how I remember it - white, thin, and apt to run down your forearms. Mix the yoghurt, tahini and garlic powder, then add a few teaspoons of water to thin it down.

Cook the Chicken and Veg

If you are using French fries, get them cooking - follow the maker's instructions, but it'll be something like 20 minutes in the oven or 5-6 minutes deep-fried. The best way to cook the chicken, onion and bell peppers is on a griddle or barbecue. Thinly slice the onion and bell pepper. Heat some butter on the griddle, then scrape excess marinade from the chicken fillets and place them on the griddle. Cook them for 2-3 minutes each side, Then place them on a warmed plate and tent them in foil. Now heat more butter on the griddle and cook the onions and bell peppers for about 5 minutes, turning frequently. 

Assemble the Shawarmas

Cut some wide strips of greaseproof paper/baking parchment. They need to be a bit wider than the diameter of a tortilla. Shred the lettuce and thinly slice the chicken crossways. Remove the onions and peppers from the griddle - place in a bowl covered in foil to keep them warm. Have all of your ingredients ready in a row. Briefly pop a couple of tortillas on the griddle, then put them on a chopping board and build up the shawarma as follows: a thin scraping of hot sauce. A generous dollop of shawarma sauce, spread across the whole tortilla with the back of a spoon. Everything else is piled in a ribbon close the the bottom edge of the tortilla. Resist the urge to put too much stuff in - you need to be able to roll it up. So, a layer of lettuce, 3-4 slices of pickle, a layer of onion and bell peppers, a layer of french fries and finally, a layer of chicken. Now take the edge of the tortilla nearest you and roll it up as tightly as you can. Place it on a sheet of paper with one open edge protruding by about 2cm (an inch). Roll the paper around the shawarma and twizzle the tail end to close it.

Serve the Shawarmas

Shawarmas are frequently accompanied by falafel, hummus, and maybe some nice plump olives.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Chicken Shawarma on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 125 ml plain yoghurt
 1 tsp salt
 1 tsp chilli powder
 1 tsp onion powder
 1 tsp garlic powder
 1 tsp ground coriander
 1 tsp ground black pepper
 half a tsp turmeric
 half a tsp ground cinnamon
 2 tbsp lemon juice
 1 tbsp olive oil
 250 ml plain yoghurt
 2 tbsp tahini
 half a tsp garlic powder
 2 tbsp cold water
 2 chicken breasts
 half a green bell pepper
 half a red bell pepper
 1 small red onion
 2 tsp hot sauce
 2 tbsp pickled gherkins/dill pickle
 250 grams iceberg lettuce
 250 grams french fries (optional)


Small white tortilla wraps, probably 6-8. Butter for the griddle. Greaseproof paper for wrapping.

US Customary/Imperial

Makes 6 -8 small shawarmas
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Marinading time: 2 hours.
Cooking time: 12 minutes.
Total time: 2 hours 27 minutes.