Chicken Shawarma

imageShawarma is  a lot like  Turkish döner kebab and Greek gyros and is almost similar to a taco but so different in many ways.  It is a popular gourmet sandwich that you can get at Middle Eastern restaurants.  Marinated chicken chunks are mounted on a large rotating skewer and then roasted slowly to perfection against a gas burning grill.

Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما‎) is a Middle Eastern meat preparation from Turkey, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat. It is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba.   It  is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat (beef, lamb or marinated chicken) on a stick. An onion, a tomato, or a halved lemon is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for additional flavoring. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours. Traditionally, a wood fire was used; currently, a gas flame is common. While specialty restaurants might offer two or more meat selections, some establishments have just one skewer.

While cooking, the meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife, an electric knife or a small circular saw, dropping to a circular tray below to be retrieved.  It  is eaten as a fast food, made up into a sandwich wrap with pita bread or rolled up in an Armenian lavash flatbread together with vegetables and dressing. A variety of vegetables come with the shawarma which include: cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, pickles, and cabbage. One has the option to get French fries in some countries, including: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, also countries in Europe such as Romania, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and the U.K.   Other options include thick cut French fries served inside the lavash to help soak up the sauce and juices keeping them inside the wrap.

Dressings include: tahini (or tahina), amba sauce (pickled mango with chili), hummus, or flavored with vinegar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Chicken shawarma is served with garlic mayonnaise, toum (garlic sauce), pomegranate concentrate, or skhug (a hot chili sauce). Once the shawarma is made, it might be dipped in the fat dripping from the skewer and then briefly seared against the flame.  In Saudi Arabia, goat is as common as beef or lamb. Less common alternatives include fish and sausage. Some shawarma stores use hot dog buns or baguettes, but most have pita and lavash.

Today, I am going to show you how to prepare shawarma in your homes.  It is very easy to make and you can chose  whatever toppings you want.  So simple, convenient and delicious! I will use the traditional chicken, French fries, salty pickles, and arabic bread.  So let’s get moving!  These are the things that we need:


  • 1.5 lbs  thinly cut skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 1 lb thinly cut skinless chicken thigh
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 4 tbsp.  plain yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 head of garlic, crushed
  • 1 to 1.5 tsp.  salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. grounded black pepper
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil (or as needed) to fry the chicken
  • French fries
  • thinly sliced salty cucumber pickles
  • garlic sauce
  • arabic bread
  • thinly sliced grilled tomatoes, thinly sliced lettuce (optional)


  1. Rinse the boneless chicken breasts and thighs  then cut horizontally into thinner cuts of about ½ inch thickness.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a blender, add to a bowl and mix well with the chicken, cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least one hour.
  3. Add the olive oil in the wok, then fry the chicken until slightly charred.   You can also cook the chicken on a BBQ grill if you wish.  Cut the chicken thinly and set aside.

For the French fries:

  • Oil
  • Potatoes
  • Salt (optional)
  1. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick fries. Put the fries in a large bowl of cold water and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium stockpot over medium heat, or in a tabletop deep fryer, to 325° F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
  3. Drain the fries well and pat dry in batches with paper towels. Fry each batch, turning frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the fries are a pale blond color and limp. Remove with a mesh skimmer to the baking sheet lined with paper towels
  4. Increase the heat of the oil to 375° F.
  5. Fry the potatoes again, in batches, turning frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with the skimmer and drain on clean paper towels. Set aside.

For the garlic sauce:

  • 1.5 heads of garlic, pealed
  • 2 – 2.5 cups  vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  1. Add the garlic and salt in the food processor and run for 10-20 seconds.
  2. Stop processor, scrape garlic down the sides, then run processor for another 10-20 seconds. Repeat process 3-4 times until garlic starts to turn pasty and looks crushed. This is very important to reach before proceeding. At this point, turn the processor back on and keep it on until the end.
  3. Start adding the oil to the processor at a very slow rate, in a very thin stream, each ½ cup at a time. After adding the first half cup you will start seeing the garlic emulsify and turn into a paste already.
  4. Add ½ teaspoon of lemon juice very slowly, in a thin stream.
  5. Wait on it a few seconds until the lemon juice is well absorbed.
  6. Then go back to repeating the same process of adding slowly ½ cup of oil, waiting a few seconds, then adding ½ teaspoon of lemon juice until you have used all ingredients. This process should take 8-10 minutes.


  • Spread the thinly cut chicken over the diameter of the arabic bread, spread some garlic sauce, add some French fries, thinly sliced salty cucumber pickles, grilled tomato slices and thinly sliced lettuce (optonal),  roll and enjoy!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. backpackerlee
    Feb 07, 2014 @ 11:33:59


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