Chicken Shawarma with Garlic Paste (Toum) & Tzatziki Sauce (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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vromans front

vromans back

OK!  There are not a lot of foods I really miss since I gave up meat 25 years ago but gyros & shawarma are two things definitely on the “miss list.”

I used Beyond Meat vegan chicken & I recommend it very highly – though you can use another brand or even real dead chicken (if you have a taste for hormones & cruelty).  At any rate – whatever you use – the longer you marinate if for the better – overnight being optimal.

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I made the garlic paste (or a version of it) that they serve at Zankou chicken, here in LA.  It is a bright, white paste that has a bit of a gritty texture & seems to be just mashed garlic.  I was HORRIFIED to discover – it does have a lot of garlic but it has even more OIL!  It is basically an aioli.  Or a mayonnaise.  Damn.  So – it is not a guiltless pleasure but you don’t need tons before you run the risk of setting things ablaze just by breathing your garlic shit storm on them – so do not sweat the calories too much.

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I used real yogurt in my tzatziki but they DO make vegan yogurts so – if you are vegan – just use one of those.

There are a lot of ingredients in the chicken marinade but only the cardamom is remotely exotic & you probably already have most of them in your cabinets – so do not be intimidated.  If you do not have or cannot find ground cardamom – never fear!  Substitutes: equal parts ground nutmeg and cinnamon OR equal parts ground cloves and cinnamon OR nutmeg OR cinnamon

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Garlic Paste (Toum)

This makes quite a bit but it should keep in the fridge for a few weeks.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 small potato (I used a Yukon Gold) – boiled until soft & cooled

1 full cup garlic cloves (peel fresh ones & do not use the pre-peeled cloves as they have been frozen & are not as flavorful)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp lemon juice

1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil (or sunflower oil)

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DIRECTIONS

In your food processor, pulse the garlic, potato, lemon juice & salt until they are pureed.  You might need to scrape the sides of the bowl down a few times.  Then, VERY SLOWLY drizzle the oil in as the pureed is being spun about.  Do this in a very slow & steady stream.  Lots of recipes suggested it should take ten minutes.  I got it done in under five but if you add the oil too fast – it will not emulsify properly.  Check it as you go & if it begins to separate – stop adding oil & keep processing it until it comes together again.

That’s it!  You MIGHT want to experiment with an increased quantity of potato & a lesser quantity of oil.   I think I will the next time.

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Tzatziki 

Makes about 1.5 cups

INGREDIENTS

6 oz yogurt (vegan or not – your call) – I used thick Greek Fage.

1 TBS lemon juice

1 garlic clove – minced

1/4 – 1/3  cucumber – peeled & diced

pinch of salt

1 tsp or more fresh dill – chopped

DIRECTIONS

Mix that shit up!  Add water if you think it is too thick – but not a lot.

Done!

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Vegan Chicken Shawarma

Serves 2 or 3

INGREDIENTS

Pita bread or wraps or tortillas or naan

9 oz vegan chicken

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS smoked paprika (or regular)

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS ground cardamom (or substitute from the note above)

1 TBS chili powder

1 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp pepper

Olive oil

juice & zest of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup yogurt (optional)

Garnish ideas: sliced red onion, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, parsley, cucumber slices

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DIRECTIONS

Mix the spices in a large glass container with the vinegar, lemon juice & zest, 2 TBS olive oil & yogurt (if using).   This is pretty thick stuff.  Feel free to thin it with water if you like.  Add the chicken & marinate it for at least an hour or overnight.  Try not to use a plastic container as it could get stained or left stinky from the spices.

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When you are ready to eat – heat a little olive oil in a pan & heat the chicken.  Allow the marinade to come away as you likely won’t want as much in the actual sandwich.  When it is warm, assemble the wrap.  Slather some garlic paste on the bread & layer the ingredients on top.  Add some tzatziki & chow the fuck down!

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