Shawarma at Home
Updated: Jun 19
Week two of #Aprilisforarabfood and all the talk about Arab street food. Got me reminiscing about all the shawarma I ate in Palestine. The delicious meat morsels with crispy edges, drizzled with all sorts of sauces, crunchy salad and pickles, wrapped in a fresh warm taboon bread aaaah, hungry yet!! I ate my weight in shawarma while I was home in Palestine (def not sad about it). Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما#) is where thin cuts of meat like lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a vertical spit surrounded by hot coals or open flames. The marinated meats are shaved off and piled high on a warm bread drizzled with sauces, topped with pickles and a tomato cucumber salad to order. This is a Levantine street food at its best. The smell of theses charred meats fill the markets, every shop has its own marinate recipe and all compete to be the best. It's hardly a sit down joint it's usually fast but really good food.
My homemade version is made with shredded whole chicken. You didn't think I have a giant spit did you! But that would be awesome if I did, then I would invite you all. I stuffed the thin bread with lots of chicken shawarma, cucumber pickles, simple salad and sumac onions. I love my sandwich with shattah (chili paste), amba sauce (fermented mango sauce), garlic paste (toum) and tahini sauce. Bring on the napkins it ain't a good shawarma sandwich until you get juices dripping everywhere.
Whole roasted chicken (rotisserie is fine) 4-5 pounds
Salt and pepper
2 tbls olive Oil
Shawarma spice 1.5 tbls if you have it or you can add:
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp curry powder
Shred the meat off the bones discarding the skins
On a sheet pan toss the shredded chicken gently (don’t break the chicken too much) with 2 tbls of oil and the spices
Roast under the broiler for 5-10 minutes tossing every few minutes until the chicken caramelizes and char a bit. Those crispy bits are delicious in the sandwich.
Shawarma is often served with an assortment of vegetables, pickles and sauces. My favorites are:
From bottom left (Shattah, tahini, amba, and toum)
Amba (a fermented savory mango sauce)
Shattah (a chili paste)
Garlic paste called “Toum” a
To make the Tahini sauce:
(All ingredients can be adjusted to your liking) but we are looking for a drizzlable consistency
1-2 garlic cloves mashed
1/2 cup Tahini (sesame paste)
Juice of one or two lemons
Water (1 tbsp at a time)
I like to add all the ingredients to a tight glass jar and shake until well blended. The sauce will appear so thick at first, so dilute the sauce with water adding one tbsp at a time until you get the desired (drizzlable) consistency.
1 onion cut into slivers
1 tbls of sumac
Toss both Ingredients together and set aside
Arab chopped salad
Or just sliced tomatoes
Pita pickets warmed through so it’s more pliable
Or my favorite is called shrak or markouk bread (a paper thin soft bread that’s perfect for rolling the shawarma)
Markouk bread is often found at middle eastern markets. Made out of whole wheat flour and and cooked on a vehicle called “Saj”
You can also mount the shawarma on top of a creamy hummus plate add pine nuts and it’s a delicious treat.