In the kitchen with: Connor Francis

As the Middle East’s answer to a grab-and-go meal, there is no shortage of variations on shawarma. Every region has their own take on spice blends, choice of meat and bread. In search of the answer to what makes the perfect shawarma, we spoke to man of the Shatta & Toum grill Connor Francis, who talked us through the secret to nailing this anytime meal.

It begins with the meat. Shatta and Toum marinate their chicken in a blend of yoghurt, lemon and, counter to the norm, dark spices such as all spice, cinnamon and turmeric. The meat is then slow braised on a shawarma spit, constantly basted with butter for richness and a caramelised effect.

Onto the assembly. Hummus is spread onto soft khobez bread; too much ruins the texture but a small amount adds a delicate flavour. Salty pickled vegetables balance the heaviness of the meat and add bite. Then goes on the toum, the Middle Eastern version of garlic aioli. The key is finding a balance between garlic, lemon and salt. Shatta is then added for heat; a blend of roasted red dutch chilli peppers, spices, oil and salt. Finally, the wrap is lightly toasted for a soft crunch.

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