Recipe: Lemon paprika chicken and crunchy apple salad

I recently had a fabulous lunch at Ceru in Soho’s D’arbalay Street on a particularly steamy London summer day. And totally fell in love with the fabulous flavours of the Levant. So much so that I simply had to recreate two of the delicious dishes we enjoyed. So here’s my version of their lemon, paprika chicken which is served with apple, mint and pomegranate salad.

I was very pleased with the results – it can be tricky trying to replicate recipes when you don’t know exact quantities of ingredients. Either way, this is certainly an easy and delicious, summer dinner that you can enjoy at home.

You can read all about my visit to Ceru by clicking here.

Lemon Paprika Chicken

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, diced

For the marinade

3 tbsps olive oil

2 tsps paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

juice of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

a pinch of salt

Chicken: marinade

The vibrant marinade ingredients

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the diced chicken. Make sure all the pieces are well coated. Leave for at least three hours. I left mine for around seven and the flavour really shone through.

Chicken: marinade

The diced chicken soaks up the flavourful marinade

Just before cooking take the chicken out of the marinade and thread onto skewers. I used mini bamboo skewers that I soaked for an hour in cold water before to ensure they wouldn’t burn during cooking.

Chicken: kebabs

The little kebabs ready for cooking

I cooked the kebab on the barbecue for about 10 mins on each side. You could also grill them – same timings.

Chicken: cooked

Lemon, paprika chicken ready to eat

Apple, mint and pomegranate salad

This is a beautifully fresh, sweet and zesty salad that I can see myself making regularly. The pine nuts add an extra special texture and taste and the simple lemon dressing brings all the ingredients to life.

I used a pink lady apple because they are my absolute favourite.

Serves 2

1 pink lady apple, cored and thinly sliced

Handful of fresh mint leaves

Half a cup of pine nuts, toasted

2 handfuls of pea shoots

Half a cup of pomegranate seeds

For the dressing

3 tbsps olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

A good grind of black pepper

Add the salad ingredients to a bowl and pour over the dressing. Mix so everything is well coated.

The lemon in the dressing will prevent the apple from going brown.

Apple salad

A salad that simply sings summer

Have you been inspired to recreate dishes you’ve eaten in a restaurant or at someone’s home? How did it turn out?

I’d love to know, so do get in touch.

 

Loving the Levantine flavours at Ceru in Soho

Plates of delight at Ceru

So today we chose the hottest day of the year (so far anyway) to venture into Soho, one of my favourite areas of London (after Covent Garden of course). Appropriately we were going where the food tastes of sunshine and summer delights – to Ceru whose motto is “Born from a love of food, drink and sunshine”. Love that – can I claim it for myself??

To be more specific, Ceru serves vibrant Levantine cuisine which is sort of Eastern Mediterranean and encompasses Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Israel – you can check out the area on the handy map below. Most importantly they promise small plates with big flavours and boy do they deliver.

What’s on the menu

To get going on our Levantine journey we dipped into the dips. I’m a big fan of dips, and these were in a league of their own. We went for a Three in One – a spoonful of our choice of three of the delicious dips. A colourful plate of deliciousness was delivered to our table along with a basket of fresh, warm and flavoursome pitta bread.

The three offerings were a traditional houmous (you’ve always got to try the humous). Then Pancar which is made from roasted beetroot, yogurt, garlic and crushed pistachio. And also Ceru Hammara – tangy red pepper dip with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. All fabulous, with the Hammara winning the prize as our favorite – as a result I’m on a mission to recreate it at home.

Ceru: dips

The vibrant plate of three top dips

The dips were served with the softest, warm pitta bread, clearly straight out of the oven and the perfect accompaniment.

Ceru: pitta bread

The softest of warm pitta bread

Summery salad and cocktails

There’s also a salad section, perfect for today’s London with a tropical feel. We went for crisp apple, mint and pomegranate with pea shoots, roasted pine nuts and green chili. Nice sounding ingredients, yes, but who’d have thought the combination would produce such a spectacular dish of food because this is one of the best salads I’ve ever enjoyed. Seriously.

Ceru also has a lovely cocktail list and I enjoyed their Passionista. It’s made from Russian Standard vodka, Passao (a passion fruit liquor), lime, sugar, passion fruit and egg white. Beautifully refreshing and fruity.

Ceru: Salad

The crunchy, zest salad perfect for a hot summer day

Ceru: Salad

A closer look at the wonderful apple salad

Moving on to the seafood section, we ordered the Karides. Whole grilled garlic prawns skewered and served with a dried lime and coriander labneh. Labneh is a wonderful thing, kind of in the middle of yogurt and cheese and it’s also great for some prawn dipping.

Ceru: prawns

Garlic prawns perfectly grilled with a wonderfully creamy dip

Tasty meaty choices

The Shish Taouk was served on a bed of herb yogurt. Tender cubes of chicken breast were marinated in paprika and lemon and grilled to perfection. They were beautifully succulent with great depth of flavour, a perfect match for the tangy, herby yogurt. I loved that every dish came with a different, delectable dip – certainly enhancing the whole experience.

Ceru: chicken

Tender chicken kebabs with a nice hit of spices

And finally – a Persian Kafta. This grilled skewer of aromatic spiced beef sat on a tartar sauce – kind of a garlicky, lemony tahini. Another incredible explosion of flavors.

Ceru: beef

The minced beef kebab packed with exotic flavours

We enjoyed our mains with the Orez Ceru – Arabic scented fried rice with crispy onions, sultanas and parsley. Certainly the nicest rice I’ve enjoyed for a while.

Ceru: rice

The tastiest of rice concoctions

What a wonderful selection of dishes – packed with flavour and perfect for London in a heatwave. As was the cool (in all senses of the word) interior. Certainly a big fan of those Levantine specialities.

Ceru: interior

The welcoming, bright and colourful interior

And here’s the Levant!

Today’s price point

Our six dishes came to £43.50, incredibly good value for such wonderful food in the heart of Soho.

It’s a different sort of list with wines from Lebanon, Macedonia, Turkey and Greece. We had a lovely rose from Macedonia – the Alexandra Rose Tikves which cost £20 for a 500ml carafe. Both red and white start from £17 for a 500ml carafe.

Ceru is at 11 D’Arbalay Street, Soho, W1