The word kebab is often a little tarnished. But, since the Friday-night kebabs of my youth, the reality of what a kebab is, or what is on sale has changed somewhat. Anyone who has tried Greek souvlaki or a Lebanese chicken shawarma will know that a combination of roasted or grilled meat, with a sharp, spicy dressing and a crunchy salad, wrapped in pitta, tortilla or lavash is a great pleasure. And one that is extremely easy to replicate at home.
This recipe, from the fantastically inspiring and straightforward Morito cookbook, is a case in point. There are lots of different bits to it, but the actual work involves chopping, stirring and a quick bit of grilling or frying. The original recipe uses fresh mackerel but they also suggest trying it with smoked mackerel which is what I did; since smoked will sit happily in your fridge for longer than fresh, that tweak makes it very storecupboard-friendly.
I’ve cooked it three times and, though I may try it with a bit of fresh mackerel cooked on a barbecue in the summer, this is a lovely all-year-round version. And, unlike some (though not all) of those late-night, polystyrene-packaged ones, this is rather healthy. Switch the white cabbage for red if you like, use pittas instead of wraps, miss out the chillies or add a little spring onion…the options for making it with what you have, or don’t, are endless.
Makes enough for 4 large wraps (adapted from here)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
olive oil, 2 tbsp, plus a dab for frying
natural yogurt, 2 tbsp
whole milk or water, 1 tbsp
salt and pepper
white cabbage, about 150g
fresh mint or parsley leaves, about, 2 tbsp (roughly 10g)
caraway seeds, 1 tsp
tahini, 3 tsp
fresh red chillies, 1-2 (depending on how much heat you want/like)
walnuts, 1 tbsp
smoked mackerel, about 200g
flat tortillas or pitta breads, 4
Turkish chillies (if you like them and/or can get them; don’t worry if not)
1. Thinly shred the cabbage, chop the herb leaves, crush the caraway seeds and juice the lemon. Mix them all together with the olive oil, season and set aside.
2. Crush the garlic clove with a little salt, so you end up with a rough paste (the easiest way to do this is in a pestle and mortar; pressing down on it with the blade of a knife works too). Mix with the yogurt, milk or water and tahini, season then set aside.
3. Deseed and finely slice the red chillies and crush the walnuts.
4. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan, add the smoked mackerel skin-side down and heat until the skin is crispy and the flesh just a tad coloured, about 2 minutes a side. You could also not heat it at all, if you prefer.
5. Remove the fish from the pan and flake it into large pieces. Heat another frying pan, but don’t add any oil, then put the tortillas in one by one to heat on both sides.
6. Divide the fish, salad and tahini sauce between the wraps, sprinkle over the red chillies and walnuts, roll up into whatever shape works (I find a cylinder, with the ends tucked in, most effective and least messy) and serve with the Turkish chillies. You could also just put all the bits on the table and let everyone serve themselves.