Do-it-yourself Israeli chicken shawarma


Turkey shawarma, served with an array of sauces and salads, is a uniquely Israeli street dish. Making your own couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a giant rotisserie, a huge lump of meat, made with layers of turkey interspersed with lamb fat! Or you could try my cheat’s version.
Serves 2

350g skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp zhug (see below)
2 pitta breads
½ cucumber, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 pickled gherkins, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cardamom pods
½ tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 large bunch each of fresh coriander and parsley, roughly chopped
1–2 green chillies (depending on how hot you want the zhug), finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil


To make the zhug, blanch the garlic in boiling water for 5 minutes. l Extract the cardamom seeds from the pods. Grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar.

Add the other spices and grind thoroughly. Add the chopped herbs, chillies, peeled garlic and a pinch of salt and pound to a coarse paste. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix to a thick, pouring consistency.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Place the chicken in a bowl, sprinkle over the spices, salt and pepper and rub into the flesh.

Grill for 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked.

Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing. Mix the tahini and lemon juice to a smooth paste with a little water. Keep stirring and it will end up the consistency of double cream. Season with salt to taste.

To assemble, warm the pitta. Carve the chicken into thin strips (almost shredded) and stuff inside the pitta. Spoon on some tahini dressing and zhug and add chopped cucumber, tomato and gherkin. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

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