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Skillet shawarma (lamb kebab)

Dan Lepard
Dan Lepard

A huge lamb gyros cooked on the barbecue is probably my favourite global quick bite. Whether it’s the Greek gyros, Turkish doner or Arabic shawarma, the spicing is kept subtle so you taste the lamb first and the spices second. Here I’ve scaled it down, so it cooks as a thin block in a frying pan allowing the sides to cook extra crisp while the core stays juicy. The flavour is best if you leave the meat in the spices overnight prior to cooking.

Skillet shawarma with honey yoghurt flatbread.
Skillet shawarma with honey yoghurt flatbread. Photo: William Meppem


1kg lamb leg or shoulder meat, off the bone

75ml cider vinegar

1  tsp salt tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 

onion, peeled and sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

My shawarma spice blend: A 1/4 tsp each of ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, fenugreek, clove, cumin, coriander, cardamom seeds and turmeric (makes 2½ teaspoons)

6-8 thin bamboo skewer


1. Cut the lamb into strips three centimetres wide and ideally about 10 centimetres long, then mix with the remaining ingredients and the spices.

2. Take a sheet of foil, about 30 centimetres by 50 centimetres. In the centre, arrange the lamb in a single layer about two to three centimetres high, by standing the slices upright and pressing them firmly and closely together, to form a reasonably solid block. It’s slightly tricky but try to keep the strips of meat on their edges, even though they’re different sizes. Then, fold the foil up and over tightly to form a parcel, so the meat is held in place.

3. Carefully push six to eight skewers horizontally through the parcel so the meat is secured, snip the skewer points off to fit into the  pan, and leave the meat to firm in the fridge for an hour or more (overnight is fine).

4. To cook, lightly oil a hot frying pan. Tear the foil off the meat, slip the shawarma slab into the pan and fry over a high heat until very brown underneath. Flip, and cook the other side.

5. Serve on a cutting board and slice through the strips of meat with a sharp knife, discarding the skewers.

Serve with Dan Lepard's grilled yoghurt honey flatbread

Tip: Use bamboo skewers to hold lots of meat together,  like a fat, wide kebab, so it crisps perfectly in a frying pan, then slice it thinly to serve. Unlike individual kebabs, you keep more moisture inside the meat while getting an extra-crisp crust.

Main ingredient:
Lamb, Lemon
Middle Eastern
Main-course, Dinner
Midweek dinner, Family meals


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