This recipe started because I really like the word “shawarma” and I couldn’t get it out of my head recently. I’m not even kidding. I don’t often get to eat shawarma because it’s not every day I come across a vegan version when I’m out so I decided we should make our own at home. It was warm, filling and complex, perfect for a cool spring night. Feel free to substitute the same amount of another vegan protein, like seitan or chickpeas, for the tofu.
There are a million shawarma recipes and about as many different ways to make that particular spice blend. Some blends lean heavily on ground cinnamon and some don’t use any; many use turmeric or nutmeg but others do not. Think of shawarma seasoning as a blend of smoky, earthy and sweet spices, kind of a Middle Eastern curry mixture, which every region, state or country and family will interpret in a different way.
Serve with the sauce on pita, rice or another grain with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, olives and more.
1 lb. super-firm or pressed firm tofu, cut half width-wise and then in thin slices 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2½ teaspoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 2 teaspoons garlic granules 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon cardamom powder ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Place the tofu in a large baking pan or a wide bowl. Pour the lemon juice, tamari and one tablespoon of olive oil over the tofu. Carefully turn to coat. Add all the spices and turn to coat evenly. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes to one hour, carefully turning every ten minutes or so.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet for a minute. Brush or swirl to fully coat the bottom of the pan. Add the marinated tofu and cook for ten minutes, carefully stirring often to avoid sticking.
Serve on pita, on a grain bowl or salad how you like with Lemony Yogurt-Dill Sauce and extras.
Lemony Yogurt-Dill Sauce
1 cup plain vegan yogurt (Greek style will be thicker and tangier) 2 tablespoons tahini 2 tablespoons peeled Persian or English cucumber, finely minced 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped 2 teaspoons minced garlic 2 teaspoons dried dill or one tablespoon fresh 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon black pepper
Stir together and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer to allow the flavors to meld before serving over the tofu.