When I was a student in Melbourne, one of my favourite foods was Souvlaki. There were plenty of greek cafes dotted around Melbourne and I was partial to the souvlaki where the meat was in cubes and grilled on a hot plate rather than the kebab kind where it was sliced off a spit.
When we visited the Gold Coast late last year, I was quite disappointed to find that Souvlaki wasn't as readily available as it was in Melbourne. However, I was really thrilled to be able to find a shop selling souvlaki and to introduce my children to it. They really loved it and I decided I would need to try and make it one day.
One of the things that has stopped my from making Souvlaki is that we dont seem to have souvlaki bread available her in KL. The use of pita bread was never a consideration as the pita we get is somehow to thick. Of late however, I have noticed that the Mission brand has different types of breads - Pita, Naan and also Wraps. The wraps look like kind of a thinner version of a souvlaki bread and so I reckoned I would try it out. In my minds eye, I would use lamb chunks for the meat, make a yoghurt garlic sauce and throw in a bunch of chopped tomatoes and lettuce all wrapped up with the flatbread.
This post is actually after making the Souvlaki 3 times! The first time was on a Sunday in mid December 2014. After church, we were wondering what to have for lunch. We were planning on just getting some takeaway from the local shop when I decided I would take a trip to the local supermarket and see what I could whip up, failing which we would get some takeout. My princess was game to come with me and on the way I made a deal with her that I would try to make Souvlaki if she helped me chop the tomatoes and lettuce. She was game!
However, when my princess and I went to the local supermarket, I wasnt too impressed with the lamb that they had. I almost gave up and thought I'd forget trying out the souvlaki but I found some beef strips that looked pretty okay and so I decided to buy that. I also got some mushrooms for some added body. My daughter's main concern was how I was going to make the garlic sauce and I told her that I'd figure that out.
When we got home, my son asked what I had bought for lunch and I said I was going to try and make Souvlaki. His eyes lit up as he said "Really? Yaay! Are you going to make the garlic sauce too?"
Looks like the pressure was on!
8 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Yoghurt - drained.
Splash Red wine vinegar
splash of lemon juice
250g Beef/ lamb - cubed
Splash lemon juice
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp corn flour
200g mushrooms - sliced (optional)
2 large tomatoes - chopped
1 lettuce - chopped
First make the garlic sauce. Process the garlic so it is finely chopped. Remove 2 tsps and set aside. Add in the yoghurt with the red wine and lemon juice to the garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Now marinate the meat with a splash of lemon juice. Mix the meat with the corn flour and some salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a skillet, heat a little olive oil and sautee the 2 tsps mince garlic (reserved from the sauce), basil and oregano. Add in the meat and allow to brown. Add in the mushrooms (if using) and cook till the juices of the mushroom come out. Set aside.
To assemble, lightly heat the wraps in the oven and then spread garlic sauce generously over the centre of wraps. Place a few strips of meat over the garlic sauce and then cover with tomatoes and lettuce. Wrap the bread tightly and serve.
* To drain the yoghurt, place the yoghurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel set inside a colander. Place in the fridge and allow to drain for about two hours. This makes the yogurt nice and thick as most of the water is removed.
I told him he needed to help his sister chop the tomatoes and lettuce and both kids were really excited. I told them they could watch TV while I got the rest of the stuff ready.
The meat didnt take too long to cook and while I was letting the sauce meld together in the fridge, the kids chopped up the tomatoes and lettuce. I noticed that the sauce was a little watery and I drained half the sauce using paper towels for about 20 minutes. I think the next time I make this I should drain the yoghurt before I mix it all together.
I assembled each souvlaki and served it to The Lovely Wife and kids. They absolutely loved it and while admitting it wasn't quite as nice as the one they had eaten in Australia, they still said it was bloody fantastic! Boy was I chuffed!
Both the kids wanted to know how I had made the sauce and wanted details of how much garlic and how much yoghurt was used. I guess this is what happens when they watch so much of Masterchef! My princess was especially thrilled that I could make such a good garlic sauce and she remarked that she loved how much garlic there was. The Lovely Wife suggested that maybe I should roast the garlic first so that the taste was not so pungent. Good Idea but I still like the taste of the raw garlic.
It was about two weeks later that I made it again. This time I drained the yoghurt first - that yielded a much nicer sauce. The recipe has been adjusted to reflect that. Also, the second time I made this, I 'tied' the ends of the wrap with aluminum foil to hold the souvlaki together. The photos are all from the second go.
And again, on the 24th of January, the date I decided to date this post is when I made it yet again. You see, the kids and TLW have grown to love this so much that every time we wonder what to have for lunch or dinner, they suggest Souvlaki. This time I used lamb and cut it into small cubes. The lamb yielded a much nicer souvlaki and the pics above are the sequence of assembly. I also added in some onion as well.
So all in all each version yielded a fantastic Souvlaki. This is certainly a keeper and I see the family enjoying this many, many times!