Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug

I have recently become addicted to the wildly popular cook book, Jerusalem. Everyone has been talking about it and how amazing this book is. I peeked at it in the book store and was in awe of its vibrant and beautiful food photography. Recipes are filled with familiar flavors that I grew up with, such as rose water, pistachio and tahini. But a lot of the recipes have unfamiliar pairings, such as harissa and zhoug.

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug via

Then I hear from Beth from OMG! Yummy and for the last few months, she has gathered a group to virtually cook through the book! Well..most of the book. Tasting Jerusalem is the name of the group and each month a different ingredient is chosen and  readers from all over the world with a fascination for the cooking, will create something based off the ingredient. It could be the same exact recipe or variation of it. How fun does that sound??

Now let’s talk about zhough (Pictured above),, this is February’s ingredient. An Israeli condiment, it is often called “Israeli’s National Chilli Paste”. I found it similar to a chimichurri with fresh ground herbs and bright lemon, but there is a distinct and addictive quality. Zhoug has smokey flavors coming from ground cumin and cardamom and fiery qualities from fresh hot peppers. I used jalapenos because that’s what I had on hand and tweaked the recipe a bit. I’ve heard that it is so addictive that there are never any leftovers…and boy is that true! I made enough to fill a small mason jar and it was all gone by the next day! Thank goodness I had enough for the lamb shwarma. Ohh…the shwarma!

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug via

This past Holiday season, Joe’s sister gifted us with an awesome rotisserie! We’ve had it in the box until the other day and have been dreaming about all the chicken and kabobs we will cook up! Until…I saw lamb shwarma in the Jerusalem cook book! I was hooked…Ottolenghi (the author and chef) dresses the lamb in aromatic flavors and spices of cumin, sumac, garlic and fenugreek! I didn’t have some of these so had to run to the Persian market to find the unfamiliar.

I posted this on my Instagram of just some of the spices that were part of the rub. Oh the rub…the intense smells of cinnamon and sumac permeated through our kitchen for the next 2 days. I don’t think I will ever dress lamb with simple rosemary ever again, after being introduced to this blend of perfection.

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug via

 And there is the hunk of meat. We dressed it with the flavors and let it sit in the fridge over night. The next day we prepped our so-cool rotisserie and let it spin and spin. I mean really…who can say they have a rotisserie in their kitchen? Such an awesome gift!

We sliced the meat thin and just like you would have with those vertical spits that you see in Turkey. That was one of our favorite smells, was the constant cooking of lamb on those open spits. The book also says that since not many people have vertical spit sin their kitchen (ha..right?), you can still make the same dish in the oven and it will come out just the same!

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug via

Needless to say dinner and lunch the next day was pretty awesome. We sliced the lamb and rolled it up in some nann bread (that’s just what we had..but pita would be delicious too!) I made a quick yogurt and mint sauce and my chopped salad and piled on the spizy zhoug. And holy moly this flavor packed! Spicy and aromatic, creamy and crunchy…this took us right back to enjoying authentic kabob in Turkey.

I would like to note that we bought a 5lb lamb, bone in, which means there were a lot of leftovers (for the 2 of us). So far we’ve had 2 meals out of it and still have leftovers. I think this would be awesome for a small party of about 6-8 people. Have the lamb cooking and everyone can pile on their own ingredients!

So a few questions….do you have a rotisserie? And have you ever had zhoug before? And do you have the Jerusalem cook book?

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug

The lamb serves easily 6-8 people, so please adjust toppings and bread to the amount of servings.


    Lamb Shwarma
  • 5lb leg of lamb, bone in
  • 5 cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tb cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 Tb paprika
  • 1 Tb sumac
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • Small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or any light oil)
  • Zhoug
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 large bunch of parsley, leaves and stems
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Additional Ingredients and Toppings
  • Naan or Pita bread (1 per person)
  • Chopped Salad - Please go here for recipe
  • Yogurt mint sauce - Please go here for recipe


    Lamb Shwarma
  1. To make the lamb, add all the ingredients (exept the lamb) in a bowl and stir to combine. Score the lamb about 1/2 slits on the fat side and meat side. Rub the marinate all over the lamb, making sure to get in the slits you made. Place it in a bowl and allow it to marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours or over night.
  2. When ready, take the lamb out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for abotu 20 minutes. Use kitchen twine to wrap the uneven parts of the meat and make it a more uniform shape.
  3. If using a rotiserrie, follow manufactures instructions. It took about 2 hours for our lamb to cook.
  4. If using the oven, place lamb in an oven proof dish with fat side up. And roast at 325 degrees F for about 4 1/2 hours.
  5. After 30 minutes of cooking, add 1 cup of hot water to the pan and baste about every hour.
  6. The last 3 hours, cover the pan with foil so the rub doesn't burn.
  7. When done, the meat should fall apart easily and read 160 degrees F using a meat thermometer. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Zhoug
  9. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. The sauce should not be too smooth and still have texture to it. Taste for seasoning and serve with lamb or other protein.
  10. Putting Lamb Shwarma Together
  11. Heat the bread in a skillet or pizza stone so that it becomes slightly crispy. Place a few slices of lamb first, then dress with chopped salad, yogurt sauce and zhoug.

Lamb Shwarma with Zhoug via



  1. says

    Welcome to Tasting Jerusalem! What a pleasure it is to have your cooking talent, background, and enthusiasm in the community!

    I am such a lamb lover – I can taste this just by looking at the pictures. The lamb and cannellini bean soup was also excellent – kind of bland until the very end and then it all comes together, especially once you add the zhoug.

    I just posted our monthly ingredient backgrounder on zhoug – we’re on the same wavelength today!
    Beth (OMG! Yummy) recently posted..Tasting Jerusalem February 2014 – Zhoug!My Profile

  2. says

    This looks incredible. Love all the photos in this post. I’ve never heard of zhoug before but I would love to try this especially since it’s Dairy free. Love the ideas of picking an ingredients and creating a recipe with it every month : )


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