Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Middle Eastern Lamb Shwarma Wraps with Cacik (Tzatziki)

Lamb breast is to be found in your supermarket, neatly rolled-up with string into a roasting joint. Revolting, because the meat on the inside of the roll is left flaccid, rubbery and tasteless. So, unroll it! When you allow all surfaces of this bargain-basement cut of meat to be exposed to a marinade and then left to slow cook under a grill or on a barbecue, I guarantee that all other lamb dishes will seem bland and unexciting in comparison.

If you go to a shwarma (not a doner kebab) take-away restaurant, you'll see the vertical spit layered-up with succulent slices of lamb. Recreate this at home and your house will be the first place your friends will want to spend the evening, not the last place to stagger to after a night out drinking.

Lamb breast is cheap cheap cheap, at £4.20 per kilo. Even with factoring-in the cost of wraps, cacik and salad, this still comes in at £2 per serving. And, unlike a take-away, you know from where the meat originated - and from which breed of animal.

Serves 4

Lamb Shwarma


1kg lamb breast
1 tablespoon of dried mint, dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
1 onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil

Unroll the lamb breast and cut into 4cm square pieces. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and then add the lamb, rubbing the marinade well in. Leave in the fridge for minimum 2 hours, preferably overnight. Thread each piece of lamb onto skewers, ensuring a tight fit together. Baste the marinade over the skewers and set aside while you make the cacik.


Cacik (Tzatziki)


300ml natural unsweetened Greek yoghurt
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 clove of garlic, minced
Half a cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
25ml olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until the wrap is ready to be assembled.


Assembling the wrap


I small red cabbage, finely chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 spring (salad) onions, finely chopped
Half a cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
I tablespoon of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Pinches of salt and pepper
4 large wraps

Mix the salad vegetables with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a bowl. Cook the lamb under a low to moderate grill, or on a slow-burning barbecue, until slightly charred on the outside, and cooked-through on the inside (approx 1 hour), basting regularly with the marinade. Dry-fry the wraps one at a time until slightly toasted on one side. On the toasted side, heap a quarter of the salad and a quarter of the de-skewered lamb. Top with a good dollop of the cacik and wrap into a cigar. Wrap in foil to prevent spillage, and to keep warm while the other three wraps are being assembled. Serve in the foil wrapping.

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