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shawarma platter

or try this other method of at-home shawarma

Ingredients

For the chicken shawarma:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs *
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin—or use another neutral oil), plus more for the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons baharat **
2 cloves garlic, crushed with a press or minced

For the yellow rice:
1 cup basmati (or another long grain) rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch saffron (optional)
1 1/3 cups water (plus more for soaking and rinsing)
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the salad:
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sumac (or to taste / optional)
2 plum tomatoes, large dice
3 Persian cucumbers, large dice
1 small romaine heart, cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons finely diced onion (green, red, or white)
1 small bunch parsley (or 1/2 1 large bunch), leaves coarsely chopped (reserve some for garnish)

For the lemon-tahini sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Make the shawarma: Slice the chicken into thin, flat strips. To slice, angle your knife 45 degrees against the cutting board, pointed away from your non-dominant hand.
  2. Combine the chicken thigh strips, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, baharat, and garlic in a ziplock bag. Carefully squeeze the bag to mix everything together until the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Let them marinate for at least 20 minutes (up to overnight).
  3. Preheat the oven to 475° F convection while the chicken marinates.
  4. Lightly coat a sheet pan in oil, and distribute the chicken in 1 even layer. Roast for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once about half-way through. The shawarma is done once the pieces are crispy and deep golden brown.
  5. Make the rice: Soak the rice for 5 minutes, covered by about an inch of water. Swish it around, strain it, and then rinse it with new water for about 15 seconds. Let the excess water drain away. If the water that drains away isn’t clear, soak it for 2 more minutes and repeat.
  6. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the turmeric and saffron and stir it for just a couple seconds.
  7. Add in the drained rice, 1 1/3 cups water, and salt, stir together, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Once simmering, reduce to low, cover, and cook for 14 minutes. Do not stir it or open the lid.
  8. Once 14 minutes have passed, turn off the heat and let it rest, covered. Do not lift the lid at any point.
  9. Make the salad: Place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sumac in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, romaine, onion, and parsley on top (in that order) and don’t mix everything together until you’re ready to serve (or feel free to dress it at the last minute, as pictured).
  10. Make the lemon-tahini sauce: Whisk everything together until it’s the consistency of creamy salad dressing. It’ll seem really separated and thin at first, but it will start to thicken as it emulsifies.

three ideas for serving:

  1. Serve everything together on a big platter (shawarma, rice, salad, sauce, parsley for garnish)
  2. Serve everything family style, as separate dishes
  3. Set up a buffet and have everyone make their own shawarma bowl

Notes

* I know, chicken thighs aren’t everyone’s favorite, but they’re really the best option for making shawarma in the oven. If you use chicken breast, by the time they’re crispy on the outside, they’ll be totally dry on the inside. Chicken thighs have more fat and are delicious crispy (think of it sort of like making crispy bacon).

** If you don’t have baharat blend and don’t feel like making a 7 spice blend, simply use 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon coriander, and a pinch of cinnamon.