Lilly Higgins: A Greek street food classic but without the meat

Crispy chickpeas add a satisfying crunch to this 15-minute wonder

Gyros is a Greek dish typically made with gyro meat: a rotating cone of lamb, chicken or beef on a vertical rotisserie. The name comes from the Greek word for circle or turn. The skewered meat dish is often called souvlaki in Athens and other parts of southern Greece. It’s a really delicious, traditional street food and has many different variations. Here, I’ve replaced the traditional meat filling with spiced chickpeas. It’s a really quick vegetarian dinner that takes less than 15 minutes to make.

Ensure your chickpeas are well dried as any excess moisture will prevent them from crisping up in the pan. At the same time, don’t let them burn, they need to be crispy and crunchy, so stir them frequently once they’re on the heat.

A creamy cooling whipped feta is such a good temper for spices. If you adore tzatziki, like I do, then you can make that, or use this simple feta sauce and serve the cucumber on the side. I love the flavour of tangy, salty feta with the chickpeas, but it’s so crumbly. The solution is to whip the feta with a little yogurt and dill to create the most delicious spreadable dip that’s equally at home in a sandwich or salad bowl.

Layered at the base of the warm pitta, it holds those crunchy chickpeas in place and prevents them from scattering like marbles once you attempt to take a bite. You can also mash the chickpeas a little before piling them into a flatbread. Pittas are more widely available here and I usually toast them then split them and fill with this delicious combination of crunchy chickpea and salty feta dip.


Alternatively, serve all of this as a big salad bowl with toasted pitta on the side. Add some plump kalamata olives and a bed of lettuce leaves. Tinned, ready-cooked chickpeas are ideal here, but whenever I have some time, I cook dried chickpeas and beans in my slow cooker. I soak them first in plenty of water overnight, then rinse and leave to simmer all day in the slow cooker, topped up with fresh water, a few bay leaves and black peppercorns. They can then be frozen in glass jars, along with the cooking water, leaving room at the top for expansion. They taste amazing and it’s very cost effective.

Recipe: Chickpea gyros with whipped dill feta