Shawarma pan chicken with lentils recipe

·3-min read
Shawarma pan chicken with lentils - Steven Joyce
Shawarma pan chicken with lentils - Steven Joyce

Say goodbye to your Friday night chicken doner on the way home and say hello to this vibrant, gut-friendly dish inspired by chicken shawarma.

All the flavours of a doner kebab are there, thanks to the shawarma seasoning, but the accompaniment of lentils, prebiotic red cabbage and pickled vegetables makes this dish a treat, not just for your taste buds, but also for your gut.


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes




For the chicken

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg

  • 1 tsp garlic granules

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

  • ½ tsp ground cardamom

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • 10 grinds of black pepper

  • 800g-1kg chicken thigh fillets, skin removed

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

For the lentils

  • 250g red cabbage, finely shredded

  • 200g jarred mixed vegetable pickles (turnips, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower etc)

  • 500g cooked puy lentils (from a pouch or tin)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • a handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

For the chilli sauce

  • 300g roasted red peppers from a jar

  • 1 tbsp rose harissa paste

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

To serve (optional)

  • pitta breads, toasted


  1. Combine the coriander seeds, oregano, nutmeg, garlic granules, chilli flakes, cardamom, cinnamon and black pepper in a pestle and mortar, and give the mixture a good grind to break the coriander seeds down.

  2. Dust the chicken thighs all over with the spice mix, ensuring the chicken is coated evenly. If any of the chicken is thicker than about 2.5cm, give it a good bash with a rolling pin to thin it down.

  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, followed by the spice-coated chicken (you may need to add the chicken in batches as you are looking for a really deep golden crust to form on the surface, to add flavour and texture). Season the chicken with salt to taste.

  4. Fry the chicken for about eight minutes on each side, then remove the pan from the heat and allow the chicken to rest for a short time before slicing into small chunks.

  5. Add the red cabbage to a bowl and season it with salt. Add a few tablespoons of the liquid from the pickled-vegetable jar and, with your hands, give the cabbage a good scrunch, so as to release the purple pigments and soften it down a little.

  6. Heat the lentils in the microwave or with a few splashes of water in a saucepan on the hob. Drop the lentils into the bowl of cabbage and drizzle over the olive oil. Mix well and top with the pickled vegetables from the jar and the chopped parsley.

  7. Blend the roasted peppers, harissa paste and olive oil with a touch of salt to form a smooth, spicy pepper sauce.

  8. Serve the chicken with the warm lentil and veg salad and the spicy sauce. Pitta bread on the side is an option if you feel the dish needs it, although I must admit I don’t miss the pitta bread if it is not there. You can eat any leftover chicken in lettuce cups for lunch the next day.

Prebiotics such as red cabbage, cauliflower and lentils fertilise the bowel and encourage the growth of the microbiota in your gut. Our gut microbes break down the fibre in prebiotics to release a chemical called butyrate, which plays a key role in keeping the gut wall healthy, as well as decreasing inflammation.