Week 31. Kuwait. Shawarma

I’m shattered. I’ve got a bunged up nose and a sore throat and all the gunge has made me snore- a lot. So, as a result, my wife kicks me hard about once an hour in the night. I wake up and then can’t get back to sleep for a bit, then I do, then I snore, then I get kicked, then I wake up, then (repeat). This has been going on for 4 days now and last night was a cracker as not only did I have that cycle, I also had to get up 3 times in the night to scare away the foxes who had got into our bins. Bloody foxes.

As I get further into my cooking ‘adventure’ I am definitely finding it harder to choose the dishes to cook. I want to make sure that I give a blend of main dishes, street food, desserts but also keeping relatively close to the national dish of a country i.e. something which is intrinsically linked to the country. This week I drew Kuwait and, as I usually do, looked straight at the national dish – which is Machboos. I cooked Machboos 3 weeks ago when I cooked Bahrain so this was slightly frustrating, but I looked on and after sifting through supposedly Kuwaiti dishes like “Egyptian Pie” the most appropriate dish I found was Shawarma.

My Shawarma is miles off what it should be, but a representation. Think of it like “Stars in their Eyes” with a real Shawarma being the real Robbie Williams and my Shawarma a Postman from Putney singing “Angels” with a Robbie Wig on.  The reason it is so far removed is that a Shawarma is supposed to be meat shaved off a Shawarma Cone like you would see in any 2am Kebab Shop. Like this:

I don’t (yet) have a Shawarma Cone in our house, even though I have suggested it many times, so I had to improvise. I used chicken but lamb or beef are just as good. Beyond that you effectively build yourself a very tasty kebab. Different to the kebab you would be used to, these are less about the spice punch and more about the depth of flavour. They are truly delicious as you would expect from something so simple and I could imagine picking myself up one for lunch in a back street in Kuwait city and munching it as I walked with the juice dripping out the bottom. I loved it and will make them again, but for me they would be further improved with that kick of spice.

Recipe: (this made about 8 kebab):

  • 1000g of diced chicken thighs
  • 1 Cup of Vinegar
  • 1 Cup of Yoghurt
  • 1 TBSP All Spice
  • Unofficially I would add 1 TBSP Cayenne Pepper

Add all the above together and set aside for 1 hour before cooking in a casserole until the meat is cooked and the liquid gone

For the sauce

  • 1 Cup Tahini
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Cloves Mashed Garlic
  • Unofficially I would add a large dollop of Humus

To go in the Pitta or Flatbread

  • Diced Parsley (you need a large handful total)
  • 1 Diced Cucumber
  • 20 Diced Cherry Tomatoes

Compose everything together as per my photo and enjoy!

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