Mouthwatering tofu skewers using my Lebanese family’s shish tawook marinade. Made with dairy-free yogurt, lemon, garlic, herbs and spices. The tofu kebabs can be grilled, oven baked or air fried. Perfect for making a vegan shish tawook sandwich or enjoying them with sides.
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What are tofu skewers?
Tofu skewers are also known as tofu kebabs.
Generally, tofu is cut into bite-sized cubes and marinated in some type of sauce. They are then skewered onto a skewer, which is either a metal or timber stick to hold food together.
Tofu skewers are generally either grilled, bbq’d, oven baked or fried in a grilling pan.
What is Shish Tawook Marinade?
The words shish tawook translate to English as “skewered chicken” which is covered in a marinade of full-fat yogurt, lemon, garlic, and herb marinade.
Shish tawook originally hails from the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) which spread throughout the Middle East. It is also known as shish taouk or chicken kebab.
It is a highly popular way of preparing chicken in Lebanon (my heritage) and other neighboring countries and there are many variations of the marinade.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Sour flavors coupled with the bright orange coloring will sure win over your family and friends.
- These tofu kebabs are tender
- Very easy to make and versatile - you can make these tofu skewers on a grill, in the oven, or leave the cubes loose and air fry them.
- Easily made into the yummiest vegan shish tawook sandwich
- Dietary friendly - vegan, gluten free, dairy free, nut free and corn free.
✔️Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Extra firm tofu - which will need to be pressed for at least an hour prior to cutting up into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes.
The easiest way to press tofu is to use a tofu press (affiliate link - this is the one I use), however, if you don’t have one, place the tofu in-between clean tea towels on a plate and place a couple of heavy books on top.
Garlic cloves will be used generously in this recipe. The stronger the flavoring of the shish tawook marinade the better. See pro tips. The garlic cloves will need to be peeled and crushed.
Fresh ginger will need to be peeled and crushed. It is another important ingredient that adds to the pepperiness in the marinade.
Dairy-free plain yogurt must be neutral in flavor and not sweet.
Lemons will be and freshly squeezed. It is the main sour flavoring.
Tomato paste will add the most wonderful vibrant orange coloring to the tofu skewers. However, sometimes shish tawook doesn’t include this ingredient, it is a personal preference.
Olive oil will help to crisp up the tofu. I have made an oil-free version in the air fryer, whilst the flavors were still fabulous, the tofu was too dry for my liking.
Sumac is my preferred herb to add to the marinade as it elevates the sourness. If you’ve never had sumac before, it is a staple in all Middle Eastern kitchens, it is deliciously sour in flavor and is naturally a deep red color.
Sumac is from a plant called the sumac berry, it can be purchased online here (affiliate link). Trust me, you need this herb in your life.
If you prefer, sumac can be swapped out with dried thyme or oregano.
Paprika, salt and white pepper are the spices used in the marinade. Feel free to adjust the amounts used, however, the marinade should be very strong in flavor (salty and garlicky) as the tofu will soak up the marinade, and flavors will be milder when cooked.
Onions and capsicum (bell peppers) are optional to add to the tofu skewers. If adding these, peel and cut the onions into quarters to add to each skewer. The vegetables will be added to the marinade and will take on the flavors really well - pretty delicious.
🍢How To Make Tofu Skewers
Step 1 - Soak the timber skewers in warm water (skip if using metal skewers) and set aside. Press the block of extra firm tofu either using a tofu press or by placing it under some heavy books for at least 60 minutes (do this whilst preparing the shish tawook marinade) Then cut up into no larger than 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes. Set the tofu cubes aside.
Step 2 - In a large mixing bowl, place all the marinade ingredients and mix well. Do a taste test, the marinade should be exceptionally pungent with garlic, sourness, and salt. Add the tofu cubes and onion and stir through the marinade, ensuring every piece is covered well. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
Step 3 - Drain the skewers of water, and add 4 cubes of tofu, 1 piece of onion and 1 piece of capsicum (bell pepper) per skewer.
Grilling - Place them onto a tray until all skewers are completed. Heat a pan, grill pan or grill on high and brush oil onto it, turn the heat down to medium-high and grill the tofu skewers. Turn every minute or so until the skewers are slightly charred/cooked and the marinade has turned bright orange. approximately 15 minutes.
Air fryer - skip placing the marinated tofu cubes onto the skewers, and place the cubes into the oiled air fryer tray. Air fry on high for 15 minutes, turning the tofu mid-way or until golden brown.
Note - air fryers differ in make and models, cooking times may vary. I currently use an air fryer like this (affiliate link).
Oven baked - Place the skewers onto a lined and oiled oven tray/pan sheet. Bake in a preheated fan forced oven 200C (400F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden, turning mid-way.
🥙How To Make A Vegan Shish Tawook Sandwich
Step 1 - Once the above steps have been completed. Place pita bread (Lebanese pita bread) flat and smear a generous spoonful of Lebanese garlic sauce called toum, add some Lebanese pickled cucumber, shredded lettuce, and fries, try these healthy air fried potato fries.
Step 2 - Add the cubes of the vegan shish tawook tofu skewers (without the skewer) top with optional chili sauce and roll up the pita bread, tucking in one end. Enjoy like this, or go a step further and brush on some olive oil (or not) onto the roll and grill until the bread is crispy.
Alternatively, you can swap out the shredded lettuce for malfouf salad, which is a juicy Lebanese cabbage salad.
⭐ Pro Tips
When using skewers, always ensure they are soaked prior to use. The reason for this is to avoid the skewers from burning and splintering.
To save time, you can make the marinade ahead, a day or two beforehand. You can also premix the shish tawook spices too and have them ready in the pantry.
Cut the tofu cubes as evenly as possible to help them grill evenly. If they are a little uneven, press down on them with a spatula to help them grill.
Oil is needed to help these skewers to cook otherwise they will stick to the surface they are being cooked on. You may need additional oil to help with grilling.
The longer the tofu cubes sit in the shish tawook marinade, the better. If they can be left in the fridge overnight even better.
Yes, preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and place the skewers on an oiled tray in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through. Additionally, you may wish to grill/broil them for the last few minutes by turning on the griller/broiler function of your oven and turning them over every minute or so until the desired amount of crisping is achieved.
These vegan tofu skewers are based on my family’s shish tawook recipe, which is generally served with salads such as quinoa taboula or fattoush or traditional taboule and a side khiyar bi laban (Lebanese cucumber yoghurt).
You can also enjoy these skewers on top of a base of buttery Lebanese vermicelli rice, grilled vegetables, the best way to enjoy potatoes - batata harra and add some spiciness with shatta, a delicious Middle Eastern hot sauce.
Follow all this delicious food with a refreshingly cold lemon mint juice known as Lebanese Lemonana.
Did you enjoy making this vegan recipe? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below and give me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating. This will help me sustain Plant Based Folk.
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Tofu Skewers (Vegan Shish Tawook Sandwich)
- 650 grams Extra firm tofu (1 block)
- ½ large Onion peeled and quartered
- ½ large Bell pepper (capsicum) cut into 2.5cm (1" pieces)
Shish Tawook Marinade
- 6 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 2.5 cm Ginger peeled and crushed
- 1 cup Dairy free plain yogurt
- 2 medium Lemons juiced
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil + extra for brushing grill/bbq/pan
- 1 teaspoon Sumac heaping
- 1 teaspoon Ground Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Ground White pepper
- 2 tablespoons Tomato paste heaping
- ½ tablespoon Salt to taste
- Soak the skewers in boiling water and set aside. Press the block of extra firm tofu either using a tofu press or by placing it under some heavy books for at least 30-60 minutes. Then cut up into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes. Set the tofu cubes aside.650 grams Extra firm tofu
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients. Do a taste test, the marinade should be exceptionally strong with garlic, sourness and salt. Add the tofu cubes, capsicum (bell pepper) and onion and stir through the marinade, ensuring every piece is covered well. Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour.650 grams Extra firm tofu, ½ large Onion, ½ large Bell pepper, 6 cloves Garlic, 2.5 cm Ginger, 1 cup Dairy free plain yogurt, 2 medium Lemons, 2 tablespoons Olive oil, 1 teaspoon Sumac, 1 teaspoon Ground Paprika, ½ teaspoon Ground White pepper, 2 tablespoons Tomato paste, ½ tablespoon Salt
- Drain the skewers of water, and add 4 cubes of tofu, 1 piece of onion and 1 piece of capsicum (bell pepper) per skewer. In any order you like.If Grilling - Place them onto a tray until all skewers are completed. Heat a pan, grill pan or grill on high and brush oil onto it, turn the heat down to medium - high and grill the tofu skewers. Turn every minute or so until the skewers are slightly charred/cooked and the marinade has turn bright orange. approximately 15 minutes.If air frying - skip placing the marinated tofu cubes onto the skewers, and place the cubes into the oiled air fryer tray. Air fry on high for 15 minutes, turning the tofu mid way.If oven baking - Place the skewers onto a lined and oiled oven tray/pan sheet. Bake in a preheated fan forced oven 200C (400F) for 20-25 minutes or until golden, turning mid way.Serve immediately.
Vegan Shish Tawook Sandwich
- Place pita bread (Lebanese pita bread) flat and smear a generous spoonful of Lebanese garlic sauce called toum, add some Lebanese pickle cucumber, shredded lettuce and fries (see links below in notes for toum and air fryer fries)
- Add the cubes off tofu (without the skewer), you may wish to halve them, top with optional chilli sauce and roll up the pita bread, tucking in one end. And enjoy like this, or go a step further and brush on some olive oil onto the roll and grill until the bread is crispy.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.