Slow-cooked lamb, piled into a warm pita with all the condiments you care for—this is the ultimate shawarma sandwich. Once cooked, the lamb keeps in the fridge so don’t worry if there are fewer than eight of you for that first sandwich. The lamb is also great as a proper meal, rather than a sandwich, served as it is with a selection of sides; fattoush , butternut squash, and a crisp green salad makes just one great combination.
Getting ahead: The lamb can be cooked a day or two ahead, ready to be warmed through when serving.
- Put the chopped onion into a food processor along with the chopped garlic and ginger. Pulse until finely minced, then add the parsley and spices. Pulse for about 10 seconds, until just combined. Scrape down the sides, then add the vinegar, oil, 2¼ tsp of salt, and a generous grind of black pepper. Pulse to form a coarse paste, then transfer to a nonmetallic container large enough to hold the lamb.
- Pat the lamb dry and pierce liberally all over with a small, sharp knife. Add it to the spice paste and coat generously, so that all sides are covered. Cover with aluminum foil and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
- Take the lamb out of the fridge about 1 hour before going into the oven; you want it to be closer to room temperature than fridge-cold.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Put the quartered onions and halved garlic into the center of a large roasting pan and pour in the stock. Sit the lamb on top of the vegetables, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 4 hours. Remove from the oven, discard the foil, and bake for 90 minutes more, increasing the oven temperature to 350°F toward the last 30 minutes of cooking time. The lamb is ready when it is fork-tender and easily pulls away from the bone. Set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes, before using two forks to roughly shred the lamb directly in the pan, gathering as much of its juices as possible. Transfer the shredded lamb, onions, garlic cloves, and any of the pan juices to a serving bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and set aside.
- To prepare the sumac yogurt, while the lamb is in the oven, put the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, water, sumac, and salt into a bowl and whisk well to combine.
- When ready to serve, lay out the tomatoes, red onion, parsley leaves, mint, shatta, and sumac yogurt, along with the pita, to let everyone make up their own shawarma sandwich.
Reprinted with permission from Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: Jenny Zarins © 2020