Crispy golden chicken, slowly roasting on a vertical grill; the floating aroma of spices and juicy fat dripping off the meat – just the thought of shawarma is enough to get our tummies rumbling. After all, shawarma brings to every UAE resident’s heart and stomach the feeling of contentment and joy.
However, there are days when long lines, closed restaurants, rainy days or overcast skies can put a halt to your shawarma plans. Gulf News Food gets that, and we came up with a solution so that you don’t have to compromise on your cravings.
You can make it at home from scratch – shredded pieces of tender meat, the sauce, the pickles and herbs – and you can do it all without a grilling tower or spit. Ideally, thigh pieces or dark meat is the best when making shawarma because it is fattier, although white or breast pieces work too. Also a tip, while buying your meat, request your butcher or supermarket to slice it thinly because this would speed up the process of cooking as well.
We reached out to Zahrat Lebnan, one of Abu Dhabi’s oldest Lebanese restaurants. It was established in 1983 and is one of the most popular places to get a shawarma in the Capital. Here’s a quick recipe you can try:
Preparation time: 6 hours or overnight
Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8 wraps
1 kg marinated beef or chicken chunks
2 tsp tahini sauce
1 cup lemon juice
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
For the marinade:
5 cloves garlic
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ginger (ground or powder)
You will also need:
Pita or Qubz bread
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ cup finely chopped French parsley or chervil
3 sprigs cilantro or coriander leaves
1. Combine all the spices mentioned with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in a blender. Blend until smooth to make the marinade. Do not add the olive oil yet.
2. Cut the beef or chicken into thin portions of 4 inches, lengthwise.
3. In a bowl, rub the meat with the marinade, drizzle a bit of olive oil and rub again. Cover and let it marinate overnight in the fridge. If you use chicken, you can leave it to marinate for four to six hours.
4. Lay the meat chunks in an oven tray with a bit of marinade. Seal tightly with aluminium foil, and let it bake at 270 to 300F (130 to 150C) for two hours.
5. Once cooked, shred the meat on a cutting board.
6. In a small bowl, combine and whisk the tahini paste, crushed garlic, lemon juice and salt until it is free of lumps. You can even use a food processor.
7. Place about 100 grams of shredded shawarma in pita bread along the diameter. Drizzle the freshly made tahini sauce, add freshly grilled tomatoes French fries and garnish with chervil and cilantro.
8. Tightly roll the shawarma and place it on parchment paper or aluminium foil.
9. Serve hot and enjoy with carrot, radish and dill pickles!
You can also do the same with leftover rotisserie chicken.
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