I judge the greatness of a vacation by the happiness of my taste buds. Coming home five pounds heavier than I left indicates I had a marvelous time, yes indeed I love me some middle eastern cuisine. The seasonings of choice of the Jordanian culture include thyme, sage and mint, can’t go wrong with those in the mix! In general breakfast was not exciting but filling. Middle easterners start their meals with Mezze plates, small plates of salads, dips, breads, and other small bites of yumminess. One can easily fill the tummy on these delectable yummies. Those who know me well know the first thing I do at meals is whip out my phone and snap photos of the food… not on this trip I was to busy grabbing those small plate appetizers! While in the Wadi Rum we had Zarb, Bedouin barbecue. In Madaba our guide took us to his family restaurant where we devoured small bites, roasted chicken and drank Limonana, ahh the Limonana… We truly enjoyed the cuisine of Jordan and now it is time to recreate some favorites.
On the menu today is Shawarma wrap and the ever refreshing Limonada. Shawarma is normally made by stacking slices of meat and fat onto a spit then roasting on the split for hours. The meat is then shaved off with a large knife and served. We are making a convenient crockpot version that is not as labor intensive yet just as tasty. Our shawarma will be served in a Khubz or as we know it, pita bread,and a salad drizzled with a lemon tahini dressing. On the side we will plate some Za’atar with olive oil and wash it all down with a heavenly Limonana.
Whoa you say! What is Za’atar you ask? Za’atar is a delicious, aromatic, ancient spice mix of herbs which could include dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac. You can make your your own Za’atar, purchase it on Amazon, or take a trip to the middle east.
Never heard of sumac, oh my, you have been missing out on a decadent spice. Ground sumac is a lovely red colored spice with a tangy lemony flavor. Sumac is a powerful anti-inflammatory, used to treat cardiovascular disorders, and hypertension. Sumac can be found in some grocery stores and Amazon, if you haven’t tried it now is the time! Alrighty, lets get to cooking!
Frozen Limonana for One
- 1 large lemon or 2 limes, juiced (if extra juicy use less juice)
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 cup ice
- garnish with a mint leaf
In blender add juice, water, mint and sugar blend till lemon/lime is smooth and sugar is dissolved. Add ice, blend on low increasing speed as the ice breaks down. Blend till mixture has an icee constancy. Garnish with a spring of mint and drink up! I recommend tasting your mix before adding the ice to see if you want to add more juice or sugar. **Tip, use crushed ice from the fridge then blend to the icee constancy using a hand blender.
Those who want to take it up a notch might want to add a shot of vodka or whiskey, Our guide suggested blending in a kiwi.
Slow Cooker Chicken Shawarma
- 2 lbs chicken breasts , boneless, skinless
- 1/2 cup water
Place chicken and water in crockpot, cook on high for 2 hours or till tender but holds together. When done remove from pot cool and slice. This step can be done in advance and refrigerate in sealed container till you’re ready to sauté.
* while your chicken is cooking mix up the LEMON TAHINI DRESSING and MIDDLE EASTERN SALAD, both recipes are below.
- 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/4teaspoon ground sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of ground cloves
Mix spices together save 1/2 teaspoon of mix for the tahini dressing, set remaining mix aside till it’s time to sauté the cooked chicken.
Chicken is ready, spices are ready, lets turn this is to a tasty Shawarma Wrap! Mix 1 Tablespoon of oil on the sliced chicken, sprinkle spices and stir lightly. Preheat 1 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy pan, I’m partial to cast iron. Once oil and pan are good and hot add the seasoned meat to the pan, allow to cook till the chicken gets a little crispy then flip and repeat cooking till chicken is a little crispy. If needed add more oil in pan during cooking.
While your chicken is cooking cut your pita bread in half, heat lightly in skillet or microwave. I prefer to pop the pita in the microwave. Cover pita with a damp paper towel and microwave for 15-20 seconds.
Once chicken is done stuff the salad and chicken in to the pita. If desired squirt the lemon tahini dressing inside the pocket or drizzle on scrumptious bite after bite! I love the slight crispness of the chicken and the flavor is divine!
LEMON TAHINI DRESSING
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or grated
- 1 tablespoon tahini paste
- 1/2 teaspoon Shawarma Spice Blend
Whisk ingredients together or if you prefer a creamier sauce you can emulsify in the blender.
MIDDLE EASTERN SALAD
- 1/2 cup minced red onion
- 1 cup of white balsamic vinegar
- 2 fresh tomatoes, cut into large diced cut
- 1 large cucumber, seeds removed and medium diced cut
- 1/4 cup chiffonade fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup flatleaf parsley chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon, about 2 Tablespoons
- 2 Tablespoons of extra Virgin Olive Oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- romaine lettuce (optional)
While onions are marinating whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper
Marinate the onions in the balsamic vinegar for roughly five minutes, drain off the vinegar.
Add all veggies together and refrigerate till ready to serve. When your ready to serve stir in the juice-olive oil mixture.
Don’t forget to set out warm pita bread triangles along with a plate of Za’atar and small bowl of olive oil. Dip the pita in to the olive oil then the Za’atar… oh my goodness life is tasty!
Now its time to put on some Jordanian Music, kick back and enjoy your meal.
Bil-hanā’ wa ash-shifā’
بالهناء والشفاء / بالهنا والشفا
May you have your meal with gladness and health