Russian Shashlik – Easy marinated lamb and halloumi skewers

These skewers make for a delicious barbeque or grilled main, and if you can plan ahead a few hours (or 24 hours if possible) of marinade makes the lamb fantastically tender and flavoursome.

The marinade itself is a simple combination of salt and pepper, onion and vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar part cures the meat overnight – which means it cooks much quicker, and thus dries out less.

The acidity also pairs fantastically with the rich and salty halloumi!

Delicious with fresh tomatoes and rich olives
Or with some grille corn and a squeeze of lemon

As to the Russian claim – well, according to my girlfriends Russian family this is actually a Georgian marinade. And in Georgia they even marinade the lamb for long enough that it doesn’t need cooking at all. I’m not 100% sure I’m into that, but this halfway house fits the bill as a simple recipe, that tastes absolutely great.

Recipe details

Preparation time – 5 minutes, plus marinading time

Cooking time – 10 minutes grilled or BBQed

Difficulty – really easy!

Servings – serves around 4 people, with 1-2 skewers each depending on the size of skewer of course

Ingredients (for the marinade)

  • 500g diced lamb – approx 4cm cubes works well
  • 1 big onion or a couple of medium onions
  • Up to 200ml vinegar depending on your container – cider vinegar works well, others will also be fine

Several pinches of salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients to finish off the skewers

  • 250g halloumi
  • 1 yellow or red pepper
  • 1 more onion
  • 2-3 tbsp oil

Method – making the marinade

  1. Get a bowl of an appropriate size that will fit all the lamb in, with a little room to spare
  2. Grate a fine layer of onion onto the bottom, the reason for grating is to get a lot of the juices out of it to get a really good flavour going
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper on top
  4. Layer your lamb tightly on top of this
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until all your lamb is finished
  6. Pour over vinegar slowly, allowing it to settle into all the gaps in the meat and fill the remaining space in the bowl. Cover with cling film and leave preferably overnight in the fridge, but for a minimum of about 4 hours

Method – assembling and cooking the skewers

  1. Chop your hallumi, onion and pepper into chunks about half the size of the lamb
  2. Assemble your skewers alternating the lamb, with the other ingredients (e.g. hallumi, lamb, pepper, lamb, onion, lamb)
  3. Pop them on a plate, and drizzle or brush the oil over, you may want to sprinkle a little salt/pepper on at this stage too
  4. Pop them on the BBQ, or under the grill, turn regularly, cooking for up to 10 minutes until the lamb is nicely browned but still slightly pink inside

Serving suggestions

Traditional BBQ sauce is great, as is ketchup or aoili of course

Try with sour cream, a very Russian topping!

Lemon squeezed over highlights the acidity and is delicious, with a bit of cracked pepper or a few chilli flakes

Take the meat of the skewer and pop in a crispy baguette

You might also try serving alongside my favourite barbequed corn on the cob:

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