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The Hairy Bikers' chicken shawarma

The Hairy Bikers / 13 May 2022

This flavourful chicken shawarma recipe from The Hairy Bikers can be served in a flatbread or, for a low-carb option, inside large lettuce leaves.

The Hairy Bikers' chicken shawarma
The Hairy Bikers' chicken shawarma, photographed by Andrew Hayes-Watkins.

Preparation time

10 minutes plus marinating

Cooking time

8-10 minutes




For the shawarma

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

For the yoghurt dip

  • 200ml plain yoghurt or thick kefir
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp sumac

To serve

  • 4 flatbreads or large lettuce leaves
  • ½ cucumber sliced
  • A few pickled chillies (optional)


Traditionally, shawarma is a slow-cooked dish, but slicing chicken breasts in half like this and batting them out to make two much thinner pieces makes them go further and cook super quickly. The spicy yoghurt marinade and the short cooking time keeps the flesh lovely and tender and juicy. What’s not to love?

First cut the chicken breasts in half as if you were butterflying them. To do this, put the chicken breast on the work surface and slice through it from one long side to the other. Cut all the way through so you have 2 pieces with the same surface area but half the thickness. Put each piece between 2 pieces of cling film and pound with a mallet until just ½ cm thick. Repeat with the other breast.

Put the lemon zest and juice, garlic, spices, oregano and olive oil into a bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, then add the chicken and rub the mixture into it. Leave to marinate for a few hours if possible, or overnight.

To cook the chicken, heat a dry frying pan or a griddle. When it’s hot, add the chicken breasts and cook on one side until they are well browned and lift off easily with no sticking. Cook the other side for another 2–3 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through, then remove from the pan.

For the dressing, mix the yoghurt, mint and sugar together with pinch of salt, then sprinkle with the sumac. Serve the chicken on flatbreads or lettuce leaves with the cucumber, dressing and pickled chillies.

Nutritional information

Info per serving without flatbread/with flatbread: calories: 153/363, protein (g) 27/33, carbs (g) 4/38, sugar (g) 4/6, fat (g) 3/8, saturated fat (g) 1.5/2, fibre (g) 0/2, salt (g) 0.3/0.8

The Hairy Dieters' Simple Healthy Food: A Guide to Losing Weight and Staying Healthy by Si King and Dave Myers is published by Seven Dials on 12 May in trade paperback at £16.99, photography by Andrew Hayes-Watkins

The Hairy Dieters: Simple Healthy Food

Try one of our other delicious Hairy Biker recipes, such as chicken jalfrezi, chicken tikka masala and cauliflower and chicken pilaf.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.