chicken shawarma

Chicken, and indeed lamb, shawarma is more readily available in the UK as Lebanese food experiences a surge in popularity. Cooked on a large revolving spit like Doner kebab, and sliced into bread, shawarma is made from whole meat rather than processed. It is possible to replicate at home, but only really worth the bother if you can cook it over coals. Good job it is Bank Holiday weekend once more then.

You can use boneless chicken thighs, or whole chicken legs separated into thigh and drumstick and then skinned and boned. You can see how to do this in the video that goes with this post (found on YouTube and Facebook). The chicken is marinated overnight, grilled and served in flatbread with tarator, onions and pickles. Tarator is a tahina based sauce that turns this grilled chicken sandwich into the taste experience that it is. Try it, and if you don’t fall in love with it then use garlic mayonnaise.

If you can get large Arabic flatbreads known as khobez or khoubz then use those. If not, then go for pita bread. There are some Italian flatbreads on the market that could work too.

Recipe for chicken shawarma

12 chicken thighs, or 6 whole legs, skinned and deboned

4 tbsp. vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 pinch celery seed

2 tsp white pepper

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp garlic powder

For the sauce

1 tbsp. tahina

Juice of 1 lemon


For the sandwich

4 flatbreads

Cornichons or gherkin, sliced

Red onion, sliced

Fresh parsley, chopped

  1. Marinade the chicken overnight in the vinegar, salt and spices.
  2. Light the BBQ. For a quick grill like this you can get away with one of those lighting bags of lumpwood charcoal. Once the flames have died down, spread the coals out and begin grilling immediately. Lumpwood burns out quickly and the chicken can handle this early high heat.
  3. Grill the chicken, turning and moving around as required. Lumpwood is also more likely than briquettes to heat unevenly so you will need to work with your grill.
  4. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
  5. Slice the chicken and pile into the breads with onion, pickle, parsley and sauce.
  6. Eat whilst still hot.