Pulled Lamb Shawarma Sandwich

This pulled lamb shawarma sandwich is the perfect centrepiece for a Palestinian-style sharing feast. The lamb is smothered with a heady mix of spices, slow-cooked until meltingly tender, then piled into warm pittas with an array of toppings and condiments.

From the book

Falastin: A Cookbook by &
Falastin: A Cookbook
A love letter to Palestinian food and culture from the Ottolenghi co-authors..
With a mix of traditional and modern recipes for everything from one-pots to perfumed sweet treats.
With beautiful photography and stories from unheard Palestinian voices.

Introduction

Slow-cooked lamb, piled into a warm pita with all the condiments you care for: this is the ultimate shawarma sandwich. Once cooked, the lamb keeps in the fridge so don’t worry if there are fewer than eight of you for that first sandwich. The lamb is also great as a proper meal, rather than a sandwich, served as it is with a selection of sides: fattoush (see page 99 of Falastin), butternut squash (see page 86 of Falastin) and a crisp green salad makes just one great combination.

Getting ahead: The lamb can be cooked a day or two ahead, ready to be warmed through when serving.

Serves 8

Ingredients

3 onions, 1 roughly chopped and the other 2 quartered (and peeled, as always) into wedges
2 heads of garlic, 1 cut in half, horizontally, and 8 cloves from the second head roughly chopped
2½cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (25g)
20g parsley, roughly chopped
1½ tbsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp cider vinegar
60ml olive oil
2–2.5kg lamb shoulder, bone in
700ml chicken stock
½ a lemon
salt and black pepper
For the sumac yoghurt:
200g Greek-style yoghurt
60g tahini
1½ tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sumac
To serve (any or all of the following):
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (200g)
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds (120g)
10g picked parsley leaves
5g picked mint leaves
100g shatta (see page 73 of Falastin)
8 pita breads (shop-bought or see page 278 of Falastin for homemade)

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor

Instructions

First make the spice paste. Put the chopped onion into a food processor along with the chopped garlic and ginger. Pulse until finely minced, then add the parsley and spices. Pulse for about 10 seconds, until just combined. Scrape down the sides, then add the vinegar, oil, 2¼ teaspoons of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse to form a coarse paste, then transfer to a non-metallic container large enough to hold the lamb.

Pat the lamb dry and pierce liberally all over with a small, sharp knife. Add it to the spice paste and coat generously, so that all sides are covered. Cover with foil and leave to marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Take the lamb out of the fridge about an hour before going into the oven: you want it to be more like room temperature rather than fridge-cold.

Preheat the oven to 140°C fan.

Put the remaining onions and head of garlic into the centre of a large roasting tray and pour over the chicken stock. Sit the lamb on top of the vegetables, cover tightly with foil and bake for 4 hours. Remove from the oven, discard the foil and bake for 90 minutes more, increasing the oven temperature to 160°C fan towards the last 30 minutes of cooking time. The lamb is ready when it is fork-tender and easily pulls away from the bone. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes, before using two forks to roughly shred the lamb directly in the pan, gathering as much of its juices as possible. Transfer the shredded lamb, onions, garlic cloves and any of the pan juices to a serving bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice and set aside.

While the lamb is in the oven, prepare the sumac yoghurt. Put the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water, the sumac and ¼ teaspoon of salt into a bowl and whisk well to combine.

When ready to serve, lay out all the various condiments, along with the pita, to let everyone make up their own shawarma sandwich.

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