Simply Nigella

Chicken shawarma is usually cooked on a spit, but Nigella uses an oven to cook this delicious version. She says: 'Here, I’ve served it modestly, on a pile of shredded iceberg, with some warmed (proper) pitta, lemon wedges and a tahini sauce, as made below.'


  • 12 skinless and boneless chicken thighs

  • 2 unwaxed lemons

  • 100ml regular olive oil

  • 4 fat or 6 smaller cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced

  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

  • Lettuce leaves, to serve

  • For the Shawarma Sauce:

  • 1 cup (250g) plain yogurt

  • 4 x 15ml tablespoons tahini

  • 1 fat or 2 smaller cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced

  • Fat pinch salt, or to taste

  • 1 tablepoon pomegranate seeds


  • 1.

    Take a large re-sealable freezer bag and put the chicken thighs in it.

  • 2.

    Using a fine microplane grater (for choice), grate in the lemon zest, then squeeze the lemons and add the juice. Pour in the olive oil and add the garlic, then add all the remaining ingredients, except for those for the sauce.

  • 3.

    Squish everything about together, then seal the bag, place it on a plate or in a dish, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 1 day.

  • 4.

    When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature.

  • 5.

    Tip the contents of the freezer bag into a shallow roasting tin – mine measures 44 x 34 x 1.5cm – and make sure all the chicken thighs are lying flat and not on top of one another (if possible) before roasting in the hot oven for 30 minutes, by which time they should be cooked through (though obviously you must check) and golden on top.

  • 6.

    When the chicken’s more or less cooked, make the sauce simply by combining the yogurt with the tahini and garlic, stir and salt to taste, and sprinkle with a few pomegranate seeds.

  • 7.

    Line a platter or a couple of plates with crisp lettuce, shredded or torn into pieces, and then top with the piping hot chicken, pouring the oily juices over them, unless you are, for some inexplicable reason, anti-oily-juices. If you wanted to make the chicken go further, you could cut the thighs into chunky slices rather than leaving them whole. And please do add any of the suggested accompaniments, itemised in my introduction.

Nutritional information

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

  • Energy 675kj
  • Fat Total 54g
  • Saturated Fat 13g
  • Protein 39g
  • Carbohydrate 7g
  • Sugar 2g
  • Sodium 685mg

Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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  • The chicken can be marinated one day ahead. Store in fridge until needed.
  • Transfer leftover cooked chicken to a container, then cool, cover and refrigerate within 2 hours. Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days.  
  • The chicken can be frozen in its marinade – as long as the meat has not been previously frozen – for up to 3 months. Leftover chicken can also be frozen, in airtight containers or resealable bags, for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in fridge before using.

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