Levantine Shawarma, Vegan-Style with Tahini Sauce


Shawarma is a Levantine meat preparation cooked on a rotisserie. Shavings of the meat are served in a sandwich, or on a plate with accompaniments such as tabbouleh or fattoush. Shawarma is often eaten as a fast food, made up into a sandwich wrap with flatbread together with vegetables and dressing. A variety of vegetables accompany the shawarma, and can include any combination of cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, parsley, pickled turnips, pickles, shredded cabbage or French fries. Please note that while shawarma shares similarities to Greek gyros and Turkish döner kebab, it is seasoned differently and is therefore not the same dish. 

Vegan Levantine Shawarma is prepared using Butler Soy Curls™. When seasoned and prepared properly, this unique product yields an amazing meat analogue (left unseasoned, the strips have an inherent natural sweetness; proper seasoning helps mask this sweetness).

Butler Soy Curls™ have a texture similar to textured soy/vegetable protein chunks but they are fundamentally different because they are made with non-GMO whole soybeans, as opposed to textured soy/vegetable protein, which is the extruded by-product of soybean oil production. As such, they are processed differently and use no solvents in the production process.For gluten-free diets, use wheat-free tamari in the seasoning broth. This recipe yields about 1 and ½ lbs.

Primary Ingredient
• 1 pkg (8 oz) Butler Soy Curls™

Seasoning Broth
• 3 cups water
• 3 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™*
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 T raw apple cider vinegar
• 4 tsp onion powder
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 2 tsp mushroom powder (porcini or portabella)
• 2 tsp browning liquid (e.g., Gravy Master™; for color)
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
• ¼ tsp ground cardamom
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• ¼ tsp ground black pepper
• pinch ground cloves
• pinch ground cinnamon
• pinch cayenne or ground red pepper

Additional Ingredients for Pan-Browning
• 2 T olive oil
• sea salt or kosher salt as desired
• additional coarse ground pepper as desired

Tahini Sauce Ingredients
• ½ cup sesame tahini
• 6 T water, or more as needed to thin consistency
• 2 T fresh lemon juice
• 1 clove raw garlic
• ¼ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
• chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Preparation
In a large saucepan, whisk together the seasoning broth ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the dry soy curls. Fold well in the broth and cover the saucepan. Allow to cool for 30 minutes to allow proper absorption of the seasoning and the color. Fold occasionally to ensure that all pieces are rehydrated and seasoned. The strips can be refrigerated in the broth for up to 5 days before finishing.

Browning the Strips
Drain the excess liquid and discard. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and place over medium heat. Add the seasoned shawarma strips and sauté, turning frequently until most of the liquid has evaporated and the strips are nicely browned (the strips hold a great deal of flavored broth even after draining the excess, so browning may take a bit longer than other meat analogues). Taste and add salt and additional ground black pepper as desired.

Wrap the shawarma strips in flatbread with additional ingredients of your choice, as mentioned in the recipe description (for the photo, I used a skillet cooked mixture of potatoes, onions and halved grape tomatoes), and top with a generous drizzle of tahini sauce and a garnish of chopped parsley.

For the tahini sauce, process the ingredients, except for the parsley, in a blender until smooth. Chill until ready to use. If necessary after chilling, thin with a little water to achieve a saucy consistency. Drizzle over the shawarma and vegetable toppings and garnish with the chopped parsley.

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Supreme Sour Cream (Cultured Non-Dairy)

Rich, tangy and velvety smooth, this recipe yields about 2 cups of the finest cultured sour cream. Although extremely easy to prepare, a high-powered blender is recommended for producing the smoothest texture.

Ingredients
• 1 and ½ cup (7.5 oz by weight) whole raw cashews
• ¾ cup filtered or spring water
• ½ tsp fine sea salt or kosher salt
• 2 non-dairy probiotic capsules*

*If possible, choose non-dairy probiotic capsules that offer several strains of Lactobacillus bacteria, as well as beneficial Streptococcus thermophilus and Bifidobacterium strains. This will create a more complex sour cream flavor than using Lactobacillus acidophilus alone.

Preparation
Soak the cashews for a minimum of 8 hours with enough filtered or spring water to cover (refrigeration is not needed unless soaking time exceeds 8 hours). Drain the cashews, discarding the soaking water, and add them to the blender.
Add the ¾ cup fresh water and the salt.

Process the contents until completely smooth, stopping to stir or scrape down the sides of blender as necessary. Add the contents of the probiotic capsules and process briefly to blend.

Transfer the mixture to a roomy container with a lid and cover. The cream may develop an “airy” texture and expand during culturing. This is caused by the release of carbon dioxide gas during fermentation and is perfectly normal. Every 12 hours or so, burp the lid of the container to release carbon dioxide.

Let the cream culture at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours or until the desired level of tanginess is achieved. Do not heat the mixture in a yogurt maker or similar device in an attempt to accelerate the process. This will alter the starch in the cashews and adversely affect the texture. Warm room temperatures will accelerate the culturing process, and cooler room temperatures will slow the process, so taste test after 24 hours and then every 12 hours after that. Viability of the probiotic culture can also affect culturing time, so be sure to use a fresh product that has been stored in the refrigerator.

After culturing, stir the sour cream thoroughly. Seal the container and place in the refrigerator to chill for 8 hours to thicken properly before using.

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Supreme Sour Cream (Cultured Non-Dairy)
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