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Lamb shawarma with pickled red cabbage and harissa dressing

Lamb shawarma with pickled red cabbage and harissa dressing

Published: December 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
    • + overnight marinating
  • A little effort
  • Serves 8

The best lamb shawarma recipe. This Middle-Eastern dish is easy to recreate at home if you have a bit of time. Serve with pickled red cabbage and harissa sauce.



  • 1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • a handful mint, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

spicy marinade

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • a large bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • about 20 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder

harissa dressing

  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 beef tomato, diced
  • 200g tin chopped tomatoes
  • a pinch sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp harissa paste

pickled red cabbage

  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 120g demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 small red cabbage, core removed and very finely sliced

to serve

  • flatbread or pitta bread
  • pickled chillies
  • finely sliced red onion
  • chopped tomatoes
  • feta, crumbled
  • hummus


  • STEP 1

    To make the spicy marinade, heat a small frying pan and dry-fry the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom pods for a few minutes until fragrant. Cool, then grind to a powder in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Mix with the other marinade ingredients and season with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper.

  • STEP 2

    Pierce the lamb all over with the tip of a knife. Put the lamb in a large shallow dish or strong freezer bag, pour over the marinade and leave overnight (at least 4 hours).

  • STEP 3

    To make the cabbage, simmer the vinegar with the sugar and mustard seeds for about 20 minutes – it will thicken slightly and become very glossy. Allow to cool, then pour over the cabbage and leave for a couple of hours, tossing now and again. Drain off any excess liquid off before serving.

  • STEP 4

    For the harissa dressing, cook the garlic and onion in 3 tbsp olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes, then whizz in a blender until smooth. Add a pinch of sugar and enough harissa paste until you reach the heat level you like.

  • STEP 5

    Mix the greek yoghurt with the mint and garlic and season.

  • STEP 6

    To cook the lamb, heat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 3. Heat a large griddle pan or heavy frying pan, take the lamb out of the marinade and cook on the griddle, turning until very well browned all over (you can also do this stage on a bbq when the weather is warm). Transfer to a roasting tin and cook in the oven for 1 hour.

  • STEP 7

    Rest under foil for 20 minutes before carving into thin slices. Serve with the mint yoghurt, harissa dressing, pickled cabbage and other accompaniments.


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