Chicken Shawarma

‘Shawarma’ is a classic middle eastern dish where marinated meat is cooked on a skewer. Yes, it’s similar to a gyro but not quite the same. Rotating the meat regularly ensures it cooks evenly, while inducing a lovely char. This dish is a really flavourful one, as the marinade contains a host of middle eastern spices like cinnamon, paprika, and turmeric. This recipe from Jack’s Meat Shack adds a fun build-your-own experience to any event. 


Cooking Method

  1. Make the yoghurt marinade by adding the spices and lemon juice to the yoghurt and mixing well. Coat the chicken evenly with yoghurt mix and marinate in the fridge overnight. 
  2. Preheat the grill to 180°C and set up the rotisserie attachment for rotisserie style cooking. 
  3. Assemble the marinated chicken thighs onto the rotisserie spear and place on the grill. 
  4. Sporadically check the chicken temperature at different points until all pieces have reached an internal temperature of 75 °C. Remove the spear from the rotisserie. 
  5. Carve the chicken straight from the spear in a downward motion into small pieces. 
  6. Pile the chicken high ready for build your own style wraps. We like to add thick warmed flatbreads spread with hummus, then topped with lettuce, red cabbage diced cucumbers and tomatoes and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds for a fruity punch. Delicious. 

The Ingredients

  • 5 kg chicken thighs 
  • 500 ml plain yoghurt 
  • 3 tbsp turmeric 
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika 
  • 2 tbsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder 
  • 1 tbsp black pepper 
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder 
  • 2 lemons juiced 
  • flatbreads, dips, salads etc 

Shawarma variations

If you’re not bothered about keeping the authenticity of the dish intact, some ingredients can be swapped out for others. If you’d prefer it spicier, add some chopped fresh chillies to the marinade. Equally, if you want a different flavour profile, why not add ginger and coriander. The latter can also be used as a garnish, along with other choices of fresh herbs like thyme or parsley. 

If you don’t have access to a grill, oven roasted chicken shawarma can work fine. Pre-heat the oven to a slightly higher temperature to make up for the fact the oven uses indirect heat. Then follow the same temperature guide. You can even finish the thighs under the broiler to achieve a similar char. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Shawarma traditionally uses lamb or mutton. However, chicken, beef, turkey, and veal are all viable options too. Non-meat eaters can also substitute in falafel, paneer, and vegetables. 

Actually, yes. Many middle eastern inspired dishes use monosaturated and polysaturated fats. You won’t find any lard or butter being used in Shawarma. On top of this, Shawarma cab be a great source of protein, carbohydrates, iron, sodium, fiber, and magnesium. 

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