Ok, it’s not actually shawarma. I haven’t spiked extra large courgettes, and grilled them on an upright spit. No. But I have taken some of those shawarma spices, and rubbed them all over some beautiful white Turkish courgettes.
I love all of the courgette family, but the white ones do seem to hold up better to cooking. They retain more of a bite, which is what I wanted, as I was going to use them as a filling in a wrap and I didn’t want them to be too squishy. They are the ones used most commonly for dolma (stuffing), as far as I recall, so I suspect they are just that bit more hearty in texture. I had 5 medium to small ones to use, roughly 3-5 inches in length.
The night before:
Mix together 1 tsp each of:
Pul biber or chilli powder of your choice
Freshly toasted and ground cumin
Add in the zest of 1 lemon, 2 tbs lemon juice and at least 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil.
Top and tail your courgettes, slice in half lengthways, and toss them in the spices. There should be a fair coating on them, not just a light sprinkle.
Note: If you want this to be quicker, by all means slice them into long, thin slices and they will cook much faster. You also will only need to leave them in the marinade for an hour.
I left my courgettes in their spice bath for a good 12 hours as I really wanted the flavours to develop, plus the gentle wafts of garlicky cinnamon coming from the kitchen made for a very happy experience. I just stirred them every so often so make sure the coating of spices covered them equally. They’d happily stay in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready to cook:
Acquire tongs and griddle pan. (Or whatever frying pan you have, to be honest.)
Heat a griddle pan up to very hot. I wanted sear marks and char, for extra flavour. If a drop of water on it whizzes about, it’s ready.
Lay the courgettes in the pan, cut side down. They may spit a bit because of the oil, so take care.
Let them sit for a good ten minutes, then turn a couple over to check how they’re doing. If they’re getting some good colour, turn the heat to medium, and keep cooking so that they cook through.
How to tell if they are cooked through: If you poke the point of a knife straight in, and it releases with no resistance, then they are ready to eat.
Keep cooking them until there is as much char and as many grill marks as you want. I admit to pointing a mini blowtorch at mine on the skin side, because I wanted all that flavour.
Once they are cooked to your liking, dress them with olive oil and fresh lemon juice while they are still hot. You can wrap them in flat breads with tahini and herbs, or do a take on an Athenian gyro like I did (added chips) or just eat them as part of a big, fresh salad. It’s your dinner, so it is totally up to you!