Sunday, September 16, 2007

Street Food At Home

I am really enjoying my Israeli book. The recipes are quite inspiring in that I already know I will like the food as I grew up eating it. It doesn't hurt that everything is presented so beautifully too. For lunch yesterday I thought it would be fun to recreate some street food from Israel, so I made shawarma and pita.

Both were incredibly easy to make, and worked surprisingly well considering my minor adjustments. The shawarma called for boneless chicken thighs. That is difficult to get around my parts now, so I used boneless and skinless chicken breast tenderloins. I adjusted cooking time, of course, accordingly.

The dough for the pita needed about 80ml more water for it to come together.

I was surprised how authentic everything tasted. I served the shawarma in the pita with some Israeli salad from the other night. The whole thing could have used something more, like hummus or hot sauce or French fries, but it was a good result. And since I will be eating this again, as I have leftover shawarma, this can of course be remedied.

Shawarma after baking -- sliced with mezzaluna. That color is amazing.

Pita dough before being proofed. Aren't the pictures in the book amazing?

The baked pita.

The stuffed pita.

Homemade Shawarma

Traditionally, shawarma... is made from lamb. In practice, Israeli shawarma is usually made from turkey with lamb fat added. Sliced marinated meat is stacked on the skewer, which rotates slowly and roasts it on all sides. The meat is then shaved and stuffed into a pita together with... here the argument begins. The purists insist that all a good shawarma needs is hummus or tahini dip and parsley sprigs. Other like their shawarma with all the trimmings: fresh or fried onion rings, French fries, salad, pickles and tahini.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 1/2 kg (3 lb 5 oz) deboned chicken thighs

The Marinade
3/4 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon chicken soup mix

For Frying:
3 tablespoons oil
3 onions, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a disposable baking dish (the most practical because the process is messy). Add the chicken and mix well. Marinate for a minimum of 5 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
3. Bake for 45 minutes. The entire process up to this point may be completed a day or two ahead and the baked chicken stored in the refrigerator.
4. Before serving, finely slice the chunks of chicken.
5. Fry the onion in oil until golden and remove from the pan.
6. Add the chicken with some of the marinade to the pan. Season and stir-fry for a few minutes, until the edges are golden-brown. Spread the fried onions over the meat and serve.


Pita is not just an extremely popular pocket bread, it is the mainstay of the way Israelis eat. Anything can go into a pita -- from chocolate spread (a favorite school snack) to a whole lunch, such as schnitzel with salad and French fries. Apart from packing it with innumerable foodstuffs, pita has another important use: to mop up hummus, tahini, labane, eggplant and other dips, spreads and salads. Pita must be oven-fresh or it's no good.

Ingredients (for 10 pitas)
500g (1 lb, 3 1/2 cups) bread flour
25g (1 oz or 2 tablespoons) instant yeast
360ml (12 1/2 oz, 1 1/2 cups) water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
30ml (1 fl oz, 2 tablespoons) olive oil

1. Mix the yeast with the flour in a mixer fitted with a kneading hook. Add the water, sugar, salt and olive oil and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny and slightly sticky.
2. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Sprinkle olive oil over it, cover it with cling wrap and allow to rise to twice its original size.
3. Preheat the oven to maximum (250ºC/500ºF).
4. Place the dough on a work surfaces sprinkled with flour and divide into 10 equal parts. Roll each part into a ball. Cover with a moist towel and leave for 10 minutes.
5. Roll out each ball into a disk 10-12 cm (4 inches) in diameter and 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Arrange on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 5 minutes, just until the pitas swell up and begin to show golden spots. Avoid over-baking, which will cause them to dry up.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Cover the pitas with a kitchen towel for a few minutes to keep them soft.


vonsachsen said...

Ilana, you are not the only one enjoying your Israeli book :D So do I! I really love the introductions to the recipes and of course the recipes themselves :) Your Pitas look great! I feel so inspired, I might try this dish next weeken! Thanks!


vonsachsen said...

hehe, me again: chicken soup mix? Ummm? Can I substitute it with something else?

Lady M said...

Eva, do you have any bouillon cubes? that is basically what chicken soup mix is? It's the powder than when mixed with water makes chicken soup. If you have the cubes, then just crumble it up as much as you can and add a bit of water... Failing that, you could put the concentrated stock stuff Nigella uses, if you have it (we don't), or a spoon or two of chicken stock. It's really just to flavor the chicken.


vonsachsen said...

OK, thanks babe :) Yes, we do have both cubes and chicken stock here, don´t know about the powder. I only now of a powder you make vegetable soup with. Hihi, this sounds good, I´ll see when Mum comes to visit, it´s her kind of food too:)

Anonymous said...

Wow Ilana, you made your own pittot! I am impressed.

Glad to see you're getting so much pleasure and use out of the book.

Francesca x

Anna's kitchen table said...

Homemade pitta? amazing! Well done you!

Anonymous said...

Were the pittot easy to make? I keep looking at them in the book and thinking I'll make them, then end up buying them anyway. I really must make them myself someday soon.

George xx

Anonymous said...

Hey Ilana :)
Today I made Laffa using the Pitta recipe from this book. They're so easy and delicious. Too delicious I think. Next time I'll make pitta

George xx