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Homemade Chicken Shawarma

Charred tender chicken morsels marinaded in a multitude of spices are one of the favourite meals in my house.

Whether you call it Chicken Shawarma or Chicken Kebabs, these charred tender chicken morsels marinaded in a multitude of spices are one of the favourite meals in my house.

I don’t have a spit in my home, but the next best thing is stacking the meat on a skewer and putting them under a hot grill. As hot as it will go, with the chicken as close to the heat as possible.

It’s one of those meals that my kids are so excited about they keep popping in to the kitchen to see how it’s going. They help out a bit, chop some veg – then disappear – only to reappear to help with the next bit.

Then the best bit is you end up with this amazing family feast, which you can make as simple as you want or go full hog.

I’ve listed out my full feast, but you could miss the halloumi fries, garlic fries and just serve with plain yogurt to make it quicker and simpler.

It is a proper feast, you’ll end up with about eight bowls of food on the table, however apart from marinading the chicken everything else can be chopped and prepped in the last hour.

The feast:

    Chicken Kebabs
    pitta
    Lettuce
    Peppers
    Cucumber
    Radishes
    Minted yogurt
    Paprika yogurt
    Garlic fries
    Halloumi fries.

Which cut of chicken for shawarma?

You need to use leg meat, as chicken breast will just dry out. I’ve used both drumsticks and thighs, but I’ve found thighs work the best. Either buy them deboned or do it yourself.

Preparation

Most of this meal can be chopped and prepped in the last hour. The chicken needs 10 minutes cooking time, however there are a couple of things you need to think about:

  • If you’re making fries they’ll need 45 minutes.
  • Halloumi fries need to be cooked last minute… hot they are beautiful, cold they are not.

The hard bit is remembering to marinade the chicken. Ideally it needs 24 hours, but a couple of hours will do at a pinch.

One of the best ways is to marinade the chicken in a tuberware when you’ve bought it. Then just pop it in the freezer until you need it, this means it’s ready to cook straight away.

Ingredients

6-8 chicken thighs (skin and bones removed), the more the merrier.
6 pittas
4 wooden skewers

Marinade

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup orange juice
1 lime
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

Salads

1 gem lettuce
1 pepper
1/2 cucumber
6 radishes

Yogurts

100ml Greek yogurt
1 tsp smoked paprika
6 mint leaves
1 lime
2 ramekins or small glasses

Garlic fries

4 potatoes
3 cloves of garlic grated
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt

Roasting tray
Parchment

Halloumi fries

A block of halloumi
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp plain flour
Rapeseed oil, enough to create a 1cm layer.

Medium or wide frying pan.

Recipe

Marinading the Chicken

Either the night before or before you freeze it:

  • Put all marinade ingredients to a large tuberware and mix together.
  • Then add the chicken and either using your hands or a fork coat in the marinade.
  • Then put the lid on and put in the fridge or freezer.

Preparing the feast

Though the chicken only needs 10 minutes cooking time, you need to start cooking an hour before.

Fries prep

  • Preheat the oven at 220c
  • Put the parchment on the tray (this helps them stay crispy).
  • Then cut the potatoes (skin on) into the thinnest chips possible.

the simplest way is, using your largest knife, slice the bottom off, then slice thinly. Then holding the slices together cut into chips.

  • Once each potato is cut up add to the tray until you have a single layer of potatoes, you don’t want any double layering or they’ll be soggy.
  • Then drizzle with oil and toss the chips in the oil by hand.
  • Put the chips in the oven

Halloumi fries prep

  • Cut the halloumi into sticks.
  • Mix the flour and spices
  • Add the halloumi and coat in flour
  • Put in the fridge until you are ready.

Yogurt prep

  • Split the yogurt between the ramekins.
  • Add the paprika and squeeze 1/2 a lime to one and stir.
  • Chop up the mint leaves and add to the other and squeeze the other 1/2 lime and stir.
  • Put in the fridge

Salad prep

  • Clean and finely slice the lettuce
  • Deseed the peppers and finely slice.

The best way is take the pepper and cut the outer flesh off, leaving the root, seeds and inner flesh.

  • Top and tail the radishes, then finely slice.
  • Slice the cucumber lengthways, first cutting down the sides of the seeds to remove them. Then finely slice into sticks.

Chicken prep

  • Soak skewers in cold water for 5 minutes.
  • Take out the grill pan and switch on the grill at full heat
  • Get the chicken out the fridge
  • Thread the chicken onto the skewer, the best way is to fold it onto the skewer. You should be able to stack about 3 thighs on each skewer.
  • Place skewers on grill pan.

Pittas

There are two ways to warm the pittas through, either:

  • Slice widthways and pop in the toaster on a low heat.
  • Place on a oven shelf, sprinkle with water and grill for a minute on each side.

I normally I cook them in the oven and pop them in when I take the chicken out to turn it over.

However keep an eye on the pittas, they need to be soft, not toasted.

Cut each pitta in half widthways and open the pocket with a knife.

15 minutes before you eat

  • set the table (or get a hungry helper to do it).

Plenty of plates, spoons and teaspoons for serving and filling

  • The put the chicken in, as close to the grill as possible.
  • After 5 minutes it should be nice and charred. Take out the grill and turn. At this point pop the pitta in for a minute on each side.
  • Put the chicken back in, one rung down if possible, and cook for a further 5 minutes.
    Get the chicken out and allow to rest.

Cooking the halloumi fries

  • Add enough oil to cover the base of a frying pan, about 1cm deep and heat.
  • Add a small piece of halloumi to check it’s hot enough. It should bubble and cackle when it hits the oil.
  • Then cook the halloumi in batches, so there’s a single layer in the pan
  • They need about 2 mins on each side, turn when golden.
  • Once cooked remove and place on kitchen towel to drain
  • Then put on a bowl and straight to the table… after you’ve tested one of course

Now slice the chicken off the skewers, roughly chop and put in a bowl.

Scatter bowls on the table, you’ll spend all meal passing them between you. Then see how many different ingredients you can fit in your pitta and top with some yogurt.

Heaven.