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Shawarma chicken with warm chickpea purée and sumac onions

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Shawarma is one of those dishes that has become global, and until I made this dish I did not realize how simple it is. This recipe may look long, but the recipe for the chicken itself is quick and absolutely delicious.

This dish is really two components, the shawarma and the amazing chickpea purée (hummus). They compliment each other beautifully and with the pungency of the sumac onions are a meal that is both elegant and over the top delicious. The chicken is tender and juicy, make them right before you serve for best results, and the subtle hummus pairs with it beautifully. I also served this with a spicy sauce, Turkish tomato dip (Domates ezmesi) (recipe coming soon), for that touch of spice. It was a meal by itself.

You could make the hummus by itself, it is that delicious. To make the shawarma really easy, use canned chickpeas. The chicken can also be made independently and served with a commercial hummus.

Like every recipe I have cooked from Diana Henry, this recipe is absolutely delicious. Subtle flavors dominate this meal, but the spices are balanced. This was my first Diana Henry cookbook, and after making a couple of recipes from it, I was addicted to her cooking. There are flavors and cuisines from a round the world and her writing style is fun and easy. Like this recipe, the recipes step away from the ordinary and are just amazing.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the chicken:

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

1 teaspoon pepper

Salt, to taste

1 lb boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts

For the chickpea purée:

1 onion, thinly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or a 14 oz canned chickpeas)

1/2 or 1 small bay leaf, only for dried chickpeas

Additional 2 cloves garlic, only for dried chickpeas

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

Juice of 1 lime or lemon, or to taste

For the sumac onions:

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sumac

Salt, to taste

To make the sumac onions:

Mix the onions, sumac and salt. Set aside. I generally make this the day before to both reduce the work and allow the onions to marinate well.

To make the chickpeas:

For the dried chickpeas:

Rinse out the chickpeas and pressure cook with the bay leaf and garlic and a teaspoon of salt till well cooked and mushy. Cool and set aside reserving both the chickpeas and the water. Discard the bay leaf.

For canned chickpeas:

Rinse well in water to remove the briny taste. I generally soak them in a pot with cold water for 30 minutes changing the water once.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions and garlic till lightly golden. Remove and cool.

Purée the chickpeas with the onion mix, cumin, and allspice, using either the cooking liquid from the dried chickpeas or water. Purée to a thick consistency for a dip. I generally like to keep the purée quite grainy, but you can purée to a consistency of your liking. Add the tahini and lime juice and mix well. taste and adjust for salt and lime.

For the chicken:

Marinate the chicken with the garlic, ginger, allspice, turmeric, cumin, lime/lemon juice, pepper and salt. Marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or longer (preferred) in the fridge. The chef says to marinate in the morning and cook for dinner.

To fry:

Add some oil to a frying pan and fry the pieces on medium heat for 3 minutes per side till the juices are running clear and the chicken is cooked through. The chicken should be golden or browned lightly on both sides.

To bake:

I like to bake these and make them healthier. layer them on a foil lined baking sheet and broil in the oven for 15 minutes about 12 inches from the broiler. The chicken should be browned and cooked through with the juices running clear.

Once cooked through, cut the cooked chicken along the length into small bite sized strips and serve making sure to drizzle some of the juices from the baking tray on the chicken to keep it moist. This chicken is best is made right before you serve it, it is juicy and tender.

Serve with pita bread, sumac onions, warmed bean purée and a hot sauce like Turkish tomato dip (Domates ezmesi) or any other.

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