I’m going to say this for anyone who needs to hear it:
Stop being a yes person.
Yes, it has been a daunting year – and yes, for those of us coming out of respective lockdowns (depending on where you are in the world) it can feel borderline ludicrous to opt for ‘opting out’ after months of being cooped up at home; but sometimes you just need to say NO.
Say no to that coffee with a friend, re-schedule that date, duck out of the weekly Zoom call. Don’t take on another extracurricular. Tell your colleagues you’ll be logging off at a decent hour (and stick to it).
It’s okay to be a no person. It’s more than okay to take time out for yourself and to spend that time doing whatever on earth it is that your heart desires without feeling a shred of “productivity guilt”.
Say it with me people; just say no.
I do however, think you should say yes to juicy strips of seitan shawarma doused with tahini sauce, fresh veggies and pickles, all wrapped up in pillowy Arabic bread.
Because who would ever say no to that?
- Adapted from That Was Vegan's chicken seitan recipe here
- 1½ cups vegetable broth (at room temperature) - I use 1 Kallo stock cube + water
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or braggs liquid aminos
- 1½ cups vital wheat gluten flour
- ¼ cup chickpea flour
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 tbsp shawarma seasoning (or make your own by following this recipe)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste (I recommend using at least ½ a tbsp but I prefer my shawarma on the saltier side)
- Aluminum foil and steamer basket
- 1 tbsp cooking oil of choice
- Add the stock, olive oil, soy sauce and garlic in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup and whisk to combine.
- Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix well.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir well to combine using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. When you're done the mixture should form a dough that comes away from the bowl.
- Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes to develop the gluten - you'll notice the texture of the dough start to transform as you do this.
- Cover the mixing bowl with a dish towel and allow to rest for about 10 minutes, before kneading out one more time on a cutting board. At this point, you'll cut the dough into four equal parts (this isn't an exact science, but you can use scales to ensure each portion is about the same). Try to shape each individual "loaf" into a rectangle.
- Wrap each piece in 6 inch long piece of foil - you don't want this to be air-tight as the seitan will expand when it cooks.
- Place in a steamer basket and steam on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Once done, allow the seitan loaves to cool before unwrapping and slicing your strips of shawarma meat using a serrated knife. Bear in mind each loaf is about two servings, so only slice off as much as you'll need for your sandwiches.
- In a pan, fry up your strips in the cooking oil for about 3-5 minutes until they have some colour on them - you don't want them to be too tough or crisp so don't overdo this step. Set aside for assembly.
- Layer your bread with sauce or hummus, pile on the seitan strips and add a few slices of each topping, before sealing off with a touch more sauce an wrap by folding the bottom in and then the sides. You can also wrap these into foil or sandwich paper for easier (and fuss-free) eating later.
My favourite shawarma as a meat-eating child was from a popular spot in Bahrain called Burgerland. Trips there with my dad and my brother in our maroon family car will remain etched in my memory for a lifetime. There’s nothing like ripping that sandwich paper apart to tuck into that first bite of warm shawarma perfectly interspersed with tahini, garlic sauce and pickles.
I’ll level with you guys – making seitan is a bit of a process – but it keeps so well in the fridge (in a sealed tupperware for up to a week) and is the perfect addition to any sandwich, salad, or even as a “steak” alongside some steamed veg and creamy mash. It goes without saying that this particular variety of seitan is best served, as the title of this recipe indicates, in a shawarma wrap – but the sky’s the limit!
You could even fry some up and place it atop your next batch of hummus with toasted pine nuts, for a vegan version of Hummus B’shawarma.
However you have it, I hope that it brings you joy. Until next time, dear readers!