The Workshop Lunch

The Workshop Lunch

The workshop lunch recipe - Lentil Shawarma 

All my day classes in the workshop include lunch. I do this for a number of reasons. It's nice hospitality and ensures the smoothness of the day when people aren't running off to the nearest dairy to grab a pie. It's great to be able to share a meal together, with tea or coffee, enjoying the sunshine, and a little bit of relaxation before returning to our forging projects. I have developed a few menus to serve on these workshop days but this Lentil dish gets the most compliments and I'm hounded for the recipe. So, I’ll oblige. 

For a little background on the meal, it is something that's based on an iconic restaurant I used to visit growing up, the Middle Eastern cafe. If you remember it you'll know this place was an institution. A Dutch couple opened the cafe in the 1980’s and then served heavenly shawarmas for almost 40 years in the Auckland CBD. Over that time the menu didn’t change. Not once. The number of times I went there made these flavours nostalgic. It is sadly closed now but if Sjoerd or Marjan ever read this, I would love to know your original recipe. 

The shawarmas in question were spiced kebab lamb in a slightly toasted bap, crunchy shredded iceberg lettuce served with a white garlic sauce and sweet red chutney. I have tried to recreate as best I can from memory the taste of these shawarmas with a vegetarian mix. It might not ever quite match the original, but I think it’s a pretty good approximation.  

My version of his dish is great because it's vegetarian, and with a few tweaks can easily be made gluten free, dairy free or vegan. This saves me the headache of thinking of ways to serve the wide variety of dietary requirements we get. The whole meal is prepared prior and the lentils reheated to serve. 

Cabbages and carrots are cheap and available year round, so a simple slaw of shredded veggies gets substituted for the lettuce of this recipe's inspiration. Replace buns for rice to make a gluten free alternative and simply withhold the yoghurt for the vegan option. 

Consider Anathoth tomato relish essential to this dish

Spiced lentils. 


2 medium onions, diced
200g mushrooms, diced finely
2 Tsp salt to taste 
1 Tbsp each of Coriander, Cumin & Turmeric 
1 tsp each Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Allspice 
3 tins of brown lentils. (I like the texture of the Chantal organics brand lentils) 


In a large frying pan or roast pan, over a medium heat, brown the onions and mushrooms in a good amount of oil. After 5-10 minutes, add your spices to the mix. Let these fry for a few minutes before adding 3 tins of brown lentils. Fry for 5 - 10 minutes. Salt to taste. 

Please note: Most of the quantities are made up because I don't usually measure them. Basically I'm not shy with spices, salt and oil.


Tahini sauce. 


2 Tbsp Tahini 
1 Tsp cumin
Half a lemon
About 5 cloves of crushed garlic 
1/2 Tsp of salt 
2 Tbsp yoghurt


Add Tahini, garlic, cumin, lemon and salt to a small blender. 
Blend and then add water gradually until the desired consistency is reached. 10 - 30 ml at a time. The mixture should change from a tan colour to white. 
Stir through yoghurt once desired consistency is reached. 

I like to serve with a simple salad and oven warmed buns 


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