Zero-oil Chicken Shawarma Salad (in Air Fryer)

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am a compulsive grocery shopper. There, I said it. The advent of online grocery shopping has made matters worse for me. Previously, I would shop once or twice a week when I would go to Spencers or New Market. But now I shop every other day — while on my way to work, late at night, during a dull moment in office — you name it! Needless to say, the result is a fridge overflowing with ingredients. Every time I open my vegetable tray I have to literally wrestle to push it back. All instances of opening the freezer for ice lead to bags of meat tumbling down.
There's another confession. I am a bit miserly with my ingredients. No, don't take it the other way. I do cook and eat regularly the stuff I can replenish once they are over. But if it's something I've got from another state, or another country, and can't easily lay my hands on in Bangalore (take for example truffle oil or squid ink pasta or porcini mushrooms), I tend to preserve them. It has happened often that in a bid to store them forever, many of these items have got spoiled. But I seem to not learn my lesson.
Okay, coming back to where we were. So a couple of weeks back this online grocery portal was offering a decent Holi discount and because I HAD to avail of it, I ended up buying 1 kilo of curry cut chicken, 1.5 kilo drumsticks, 1 kilo wings, 1 kilo lollipops, 1 kilo boneless breast, 1 kilo mutton and 1 kilo Rohu fish. No, I don't have a freezer that can house 7.5 kilos of protein and so that very day I had to release the pressure my freezer was reeling under. I had some leftover pita bread at home and hence decided to marinade the breasts and make shawarma in the oven the next day, which I could also carry as a wrap for my dinner at work.
Next morning before P left for work, I told him casually that there would be Shawarma Wraps which he can eat once he is back. He asked equally casually, "Are you going to make it in the air fryer?" "Of course not!" I replied. But once he left, the idea lingered in my head. Our air fryer was a wedding gift from P's friends S and S. They couldn't be here physically during the ceremony, so they chose to send their love and wishes through this and a kindle for P AND Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child) for me. Ain't they the greatest friends ever?! Now all this while, we had successfully made French Fries in it (both normal and sweet potatoes). But that was about it. A week or so back I fried some cauliflower and they turned out to be — wait for it — LEGENDARY. That was followed up with some ladies' fingers and that too came out crispy and crunchy as ever! Emboldened by my recent successes, I decided to give the air fryer a chance with the chicken. And thank God I did! It came our tender in the centre and charred at the edges. I finished off half a bowlful of shawarma strips just on its own. No wrap was made and no picture taken. Of course I had to make it again. So this time I ensured I had all the ingredients of the salad chopped and ready by the time my chicken was cooking. Otherwise my Chicken Shawarma Salad still wouldn't have seen the light of day!
Note: In all the shawarma recipes I've seen, there hasn't been any use of yoghurt in the marination. But the first time (ie before I checked any recipe) I had made the marinade with yoghurt and I loved it. So the second time around, I made 2 marinades, one with yoghurt and one without, and I still liked the one with yoghurt better. Maybe because it made the chicken soft and gave it some moisture given that I wasn't using any oil. I've therefore included yoghurt in my recipe, but feel free to omit it if you think it's not too authentic! 

Serves: 3-4

Chicken, boneless and cut into thin strips: 500 gm

For the marination:
Lime juice: of 1 big lime
Hung Yoghurt: 2 tbsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp (optional)
Paprika/Red chilli powder: 1/2-1 tsp
Sumac: 1 tsp (optional)
Salt: to taste

For the salad:
Red bell pepper, chopped: 1
Yellow bell pepper, chopped: 1
English cucumber, chopped: 1/2
Tomato, chopped: 1
Coriander/Mint leaves: a handful + for garnish

For the dressing:
Hung yoghurt: 3-4 tbsp
Mayonnaise: 2 tbsp
Sumac: 1 tsp
Olive oil: 1 tsp
Lemon juice: 1 tbsp
Salt, to taste (if required)

Special equipment: Air Fryer


1. Marinade the chicken strips with the items listed under marination and keep it refrigerated for 4-6 hours or overnight.

2. When you are ready to cook, pre-heat your air-fryer for 5 minutes at 200ÂșC for 5 minutes, tumble the chicken strips inside and air-fry for 15-18 minutes, till they are soft and tender in the middle but charred and crispy from outside. In the stretch of those 15 minutes take the tray out 2-3 times and give it a good shake.
(You can also bake the chicken in the oven — 10-12 minutes on one side, flip and then 4-5 minutes on the other at the same temperature.)

3. While the chicken is cooking, assemble your veggies in a salad bowl. Feel free to add anything else like zucchini, olives, lettuce or any other salad greens.

4. In another bowl, keep you dressing ready by whisking all the ingredients together.

5. Once the chicken is cooked, take half of it and add to the salad. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

6. Arrange the remaining strips of chicken on top, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
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  1. Hello pritha,
    This post is very nice. Love the recipe of Chicken Shawarma Salad. It is very delicious to look at. Thank you for sharing the ingredients and recipe. Hope your next recipe will published soon.


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