Chicken Shawarma with Amba Sauce, smooth silken houmous, tabbouleh and flatbread

Oh my. This dish is perfect on a BBQ, especially with the accompaniments that really compliment the dish. Make the social occasion something special with this recipe. Taken from the Jamie Oliver Comfort Food book this is the first time I tried this and it really made my day.

I would recommend getting a large spit double skewer because the weight of the chicken will bend a standard sized one. I used 4 12 inch ones to make  up 2 kebabs. Once


The recipe is made up of the main kebab and the side dishes. This will take about 6-8 hours to marinate and then you can make the side dishes while you wait for the marination to complete. You do the chicken a day before if this is easier.

This recipe includes the chicken kebab, flatbread, amba sauce, smooth houmous and tabbouleh.


(side dishes follow below)

For the chicken

  • 10 Cardamon Pods
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, cumin (seeds or ground), corriander (seeds or ground).
  • 1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cloves, smoked paprika.
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoon of natural yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smooth peanut butter
  • some olive oil
  • 10-16 boneless chicken thighs with the skin left on (depends on the amount of people who are attending)
  • 2-3 red peppers
  • 2-3 onions
  • 1 lemon or 2 limes
  • 1-2 large tomatoes

For the flatbread

  • 2 heaped teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 600g of strong bread flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

Lets get started with the chicken first and we will move onto the side dishes. Everything you can make beforehand apart from the bread. Leave the bread until the last minute before you are ready to serve the chicken.

Preparing the spices for the chicken. 

If you have spices which are seeds, then get a pestal and mortar and crush up the spices. Remove the husks from the cardamon seeds and grind these up along with the rest of the  seeded spices.


Remove the stalks from the bay leaves, tear up the leaves and add to the blender.  Add the yoghurt, peanut butter and a good dashing of oil to a blender. Toast all of the ground spices in a frying pan for a minute on a high heat to let out the flavours then add these to the blender. Get all of the spices from the pan and put into a blender with the garlic. Blitz until smooth and add a little water if needed to help.


Cut the bones out of the chicken.


Add to a bowl with the marinate from the blender. Cover and place into the fridge.


While this is marinating lets prepare list the ingredients for the side dishes.

Amba Sauce

  • 2 ripe medium mangos
  • 2 limes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of mustard seeds, feungreek seeds (ground or whole), cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, tumeric

Extract the flesh from the mango and discard the stone and skin.



Put the flesh into a blender and with the juice of the lime and blitz until smooth.

Finely slice the garlic put into a frying pan with the spices and olive oil and cook on a high heat for a minute.


Once the aroma is released stir in the mango and turn off the heat. Leave to cool and transfer to a dish and place in the fridge.


Smooth Houmous

  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • a pinch of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of Tahini
  • olive oil


Pour the chickpeas and the juice into a blender.


Squeeze in the lemon juice. Peel and add the garlic along with the cumin and a pinch of salt. Add the Tahini and the oil. Blitz until shiny then add to a dish and place in the fridge.



This is a nice fresh salad which compliments the chicken.

  • 100g of Bulgar wheat
  • 6 spring onions
  • a large bunch of mint
  • a large bunch of flat parsley
  • 3 slices of preserved lemon
  • 3 ripe vine tomatoes
  • red wine vinegar

Cook the wheat in a pan with water. Remember to wash it out a few times first. Then leave it to cool (takes about an hour).


After an hour:

Trim the onions and finely slice. Pick off the mint leaves and chop these along with the parsley and lemons then add to a bowl. Quarter the tomatoes and add these to the bowl along with the cooled wheat. Mix together well and then add a splash of red wine vinegar and a drizzle of oil. Coat the ingredients and set aside.

Mixing the bread

Take all of the ingredients and place in a large bowl. Mix well until a dough is formed. Knead on a hard surface for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or cling film for few hours.

When the chicken has finished marinating then it is time!

Cooking the Chicken

Place the chicken on the skewers with a slice of pepper, onion, lime/lemon, tomatoes after every portion so you get a good combination like below. The skewer ends up being extremely packed of food, hence why a good strong spit skewer is recommended.


The chicken is done on a BBQ. Prepare the BBQ with the coals but remember to have a cold side. The fat from the chicken will make the coals flame. At this time move the chicken to the cold part of the BBQ for a minute and then move back to the heat. Keep repeating this. As you can see in the picture below the left side of the BBQ is cooler, containing less coals.


After about 45 mins to an hour the chicken should be ready for its first serving. At this point its time to prepare the bread.

Take the bread dough and divide into about 9-10 balls. Take each one on a hard surface, sprinkle with flour and roll out as thin as you can. Place the flat dough on top of the BBQ next to the chicken (or in a fire pit if you have one).


Cook for a few minutes. If it is not hot enough then take the dough closer to the coals.


The dough will cook and swell up after a few minutes. Wait until they are brown on one side and turn over and cook for another few minutes.

Get a sharp knife and a plate. Slice up some chicken (like cutting a kebab) and place on the plate. Place the chicken back on the BBQ and cook some more once you have exposed the meat. Keep slicing little by little as it cooks. This way you keep a constant stream of chicken being cooked and served.

Once enough chicken is ready and the bread is cooked, place the bread on a plate, cover in the chicken, salad and sauces. Dig in and enjoy.





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