lemons

Nigella’s Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shwarma 2

I’ve avoided  posting this recipe because I didn’t want you to think I was some sort of crazed Nigella fan/stalker such is the large number of her recipes on this blog.

However, this has become such a ‘go to’ recipe when I have to feed lots of people for a buffet type spread (and so many people have asked me for the recipe) that I’ve finally caved in.

This is a wonderfully simple recipe and whilst you do need a well stocked spice cupboard there’s nothing really specialist involved. It also makes good use of chicken thighs which still remain economical even if you buy them from a quality butcher (which I always do).

I cut the chicken into thin slices which makes it go along way and serve either with rice (easy) or homemade flat breads (a bit more effort). As an accompaniment Nigella mixes up a tahini and garlic flavoured yoghurt bejewelled with pomegranate seeds but I don’t bother with this.

Nigella’s Chicken Shawarma

Serves 6 (or more if you’re serving as part of a buffet with other dishes)

  • 12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs (I like to remove as much of the visible fat as possible)
  • The grated zest and juice of two lemons
  • 100 ml of regular olive oil
  • 4 fat or 6 smaller garlic cloves grated
  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoons of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  • ¼ a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

Take a large bowl, tupperware or freezer bag, tip in the chicken thighs and add all the other ingredients.

Squish everything about (hands are best for this) until the chicken is well covered with all the marinade ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

When you are ready to cook heat your oven to 200oC fan and take the chicken out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.

Spread the chicken thighs out on to a large baking tray – you may need two because you don’t want them to overlap.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden and slightly crispy on top. I like to turn mine halfway through for an even colour. Sometimes they need slightly longer than 30 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes covered with foil.

Slice the cooked thighs thinly with a sharp knife and place in a sharing bowl for everyone to help themselves.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s puy lentils

puylentilstahini

I celebrated the end of a vegetarian Lent with scampi and chicken bites at Scarborough’s wonderful Clock Café. This is my favourite cafe in the world, it’s fabulously old school with a menu that probably hasn’t changed in 40 years.

The next day I ate battered fish with chips at Whitby’s Quayside restaurant and was very happy.

The week before all that, when I was still being a vegetarian, I finally managed to make an Ottolenghi recipe work. I’m a big fan of red lentil dhal, which is a staple of mine, but this was the first time I’d attempted to cook with puy lentils which I’ve been told are tricky.

It was very tasty (even though I forgot the tiny sliced onion which I’d painstakingly prepared) but this is not surprising considering the amount of butter and oil involved. The cold hardboiled egg garnish really worked well with the hot lentils.

I have one more vegetarian recipe to tell you about next week. Bet you can’t wait.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s puy lentils

Serves 2

  • 200g of puy lentils
  • 30g of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 3 medium tomatoes, skinned and cut into 1cm squares (I used a third of a tin of tinned tomatoes, chopped)
  • 25g of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • ½ a small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook according to the pack instructions until completely cooked, drain and set aside. Yotam suggested that this would take 15-20 minutes. My packet suggested cooking for 60 minutes but I found they were done after half an hour. If you can squash a lentil easily between your fingers then they are done.

Put the butter and oil in a frying pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils and cook for a couple of minutes stirring all the time.

Then add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes more, stirring all the time until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up.

If at any time it looks too thick then you can add a little more water.

Serve on a platter with the sliced onion, the rest of the coriander, a drizzle of olive oil and the hard boiled eggs on the side.

Serve with homemade flat bread (or bought naan or pitta if you can’t be bothered).