spanish moorish skewers: pinchos morunos

pinchos morunos (Spanish Moorish skewers)

No country or its people particularly like being invaded by another, unless I suppose it is by friendly, high-spending tourists. But one of the things I love about looking at the history of food and the different world cuisines, is how conquest and migration can change or benefit a conquered country. Of course it is easy with the benefit and distance of a thousand or even a hundred years to look at the food highlights of conquest.

Spain and the Iberian Peninsula were invaded by the Arab Moors in the eighth century, a rule which lasted over 500 years. Their legacy was the introduction of incredible foodstuffs such as citrus fruits and fabulous spices such as cumin, to sugar, aubergines, almonds and rice. It is hard to imagine Spanish food without these gorgeous ingredients..

I particularly like making these Spanish meat skewers, known as Pinchos Morunos, for their Moorish influence of fragrant and warming spices.

You could use chicken, beef or lamb. Actually big prawns would be nice too. They are probably best cooked over a BBQ, but a home grill works perfectly well. In this case I used pork fillet and we mopped up all the juices with some crusty bread.

It is probably truer to say that I don’t just like these simple marinated kebabs, I adore them. They are, I’m afraid to say, completely moreish. Ba boom tish – I’m here all week . . .

Serves 3-4
Skill level: Easy

500g pork fillet, cubed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
half tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges (to serve)


  1. Trim the meat of any fat. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Tip in the meat and squelch together with the marinade to ensure all the chunks of meat are coated. The meat should marinate for at least 2 hours, but it is best if covered and left in the fridge overnight.
  4. If using bamboo skewers, these need to be soaked in cold water for at least an hour before using. (This helps to prevent them from burning.)
  5. While the skewers are soaking, bring the meat back to room temperature.
  6. Thread each skewer with 5 or 6 pieces of meat.
  7. Pre-heat the grill on high.
  8. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until the meat has browned, turning a few times. The meat should be browned but still moist. (You could BBQ them or fry them in a hot frying pan.)
  9. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
  10. Chunks of crusty bread mops up all the juices really well.

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