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Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wraps Recipe {An Edible Mosaic}

by Jeanette on October 22, 2012 · 30 Comments
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Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wrap

Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wrap

Can you say Shawarma fast ten times? The last few weeks, I’ve been obsessing about Shawarma Chicken Wraps and just imagining what it would taste like. You see, I’ve never had Shawarma, but this week, a group of bloggers made Chicken Shawarma from Faith Gorsky’s soon-to-be released Middle Eastern cookbook, An Edible Mosaic. I’ve been fascinated by everything I’ve learned so far from Faith’s new cookbook (remember the Zucchini Fritters I made last week). There are so many little tips and tricks that are incredibly helpful, including how to duplicate the crispy pieces of Chicken Shawarma that you might get at one of the little shops in the Middle East that specialize in this sandwich.
I watched a few videos and read several blog posts about Shawarma and it seems there is almost a cult-like following. In fact, people seek out the very best Shawarma shops and do their own taste testing. Faith says that in populated areas you might see half a dozen Shawarma vendors within a few blocks.

Shawarma Spices

The spices in Shawarma are almost curry-like, comprised of a laundry list of aromatic spices – cumin, coriander, cardamon, ginger, allspice, fenugreek, cloves, paprika, turmeric, cayenne and black pepper. I actually had all these spices (you should see my spice drawer!) in either whole or ground form, so I was able to recreate the recipe from An Edible Mosaic exactly as written.

Shawarma is eaten in Arab countries, Israel, Mexico (introduced by Middle-Eastern immigrants), Pakistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom, and the meats, toppings and sauce vary depending on the country. Traditionally, Shawarma is made with chicken, lamb, beef, or goat that has been marinated, and is wrapped and cooked on a vertical rotisserie (similar to Greek gyro meat). When an order is placed, meat is shaved off and served as a wrapped sandwich (using pita bread or Lavash flatbread) with fresh vegetables (cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, onions), pickles and a sauce or two (a garlic sauce called Toumieh and sometimes Sesame Sauce).

Shawarma Chicken with Toppings

I wanted to make a Chicken Shawarma as authentic as possible, so I made the Cucumber Pickles a week ago, marinated the chicken overnight, and made a batch of Garlic Mayonnaise (highly recommended by Faith) as well as Sesame Sauce.

Garlic Mayonnaise

Garlic Mayonnaise

Finding the proper bread proved to be easier than I thought – our local Greek store had whole wheat pocketless pita and I found oat bran/whole wheat lavash flatbread in the deli section of a supermarket.

Shawarma Bread - pita bread and lavash flat bread can be used

Although this sandwich is considered fast food in the Middle East, it does require some preparation of all the different components, but it is well worth the effort. Faith uses a clever trick to replicate the crispy chicken pieces of an authentic Shawarma.

After marinating the chicken overnight in lots of spices and yogurt, the chicken is cooked twice – first baked, then sauteed. This extra step makes the chicken chewier and crispy, and results in authentic-tasting shawarma according to Faith.

Cooked Sharwarma Chicken

I actually used four different wrappers for my Shawarma – Lavash Flatbread made with Whole Wheat and Oatbran (which was the easiest to roll up), Whole Wheat Pocketless Pita Bread (I found this at our local Greek market), Corn Tortillas (for a gluten-free version), and Collard Wraps (I got collards in my CSA Box and have been wanting to try them as a wrapper). For toppings, I chose fresh tomato, lettuce, onions and Cucumber Pickles.

Shawarma Chicken Collard Wraps

Shawarma Chicken Collard Wraps

The boys really loved these Shawarma Wraps – and Faith was right, the Garlic Mayonnaise definitely made the sandwich. Personally, I liked the garlicky Sesame Sauce and have been slathering it on just about anything I can think of. I’m starting to wonder if I smell like garlic everywhere I go.

Shawarma Chicken Wraps

These Shawarma Wraps were so good, I wish our fast food joints sold something this tasty.

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5 from 1 reviews
Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wraps (SHAWARMA DAJAJ)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This dish is not hard to make, it just requires a little bit of planning ahead. Well worth the effort!
Serves: 8
Chicken Shawarma
  • 1 batch Shawarma Spice Mix
  • ½ cup (125 ml) plain yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 lb (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for sautéing
  • 16 flatbreads
Shawarma Spice Mix
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¹/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne) (optional)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) hot water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar 7-10 Persian or Japanese cucumbers washed and ends slightly trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Purified water, to cover the cucumber
  • ½ teaspoon oil
Garlic Mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle with ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites or 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (250 ml) oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
Chicken Shawarma
  1. Prepare the Shawarma Spice Mix.
  2. Combine the spice mix with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F and spread 1 tablespoon of oil on the inside of a large baking dish.
  4. Scrape off any excess marinade from the chicken with your hands. Starting in the center of the oiled dish, arrange the chicken so that it overlaps, and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on top. Bake (uncovered) 1 hour, or until the chicken is fully cooked; cool. (It’s done when you cut into the center and there is no pink.)
  5. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer it to a large cutting board; slice it very thinly across the grain, then transfer it back into the pan it was cooked in to soak up the juices (the chicken can be refrigerated this way for up to 3 days before continuing with the rest of the recipe, or you can continue after 10 minutes).
  6. Coat the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat with oil. Once hot, add the sliced chicken and sauté until crispy and golden brown (you may need to sauté the chicken in two or three batches so the pan isn’t overcrowded).
  7. Spread some Garlic Mayonnaise in the center of each piece of bread; add some chicken and pickles (and any other vegetables you like) and roll it up.
  8. Toast the sandwiches on a dry griddle or a flat sandwich press so that the bread gets golden brown and slightly crispy.
  9. Serve as is, or cut into small rounds; serve with additional Garlic Mayonnaise for dipping.
  1. Combine the 1 cup (250 ml) hot water, salt, and sugar in a large measuring cup with a pour spout; stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved and then cool to room temperature.
  2. Sterilize a 1-liter (1.06 qt) canning jar.
  3. Cut the cucumbers into spears by cutting them in half lengthwise, and then cutting each half lengthwise into 3 equal pieces.
  4. Put 1 clove of garlic in the bottom of the jar, add the cucumber spears, and then add the other clove of garlic on top.
  5. Pour in the water/salt/sugar mixture, then add enough purified water so that the cucumbers are completely covered, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of free space at the top.
  6. Let the jar sit at room temperature to form pickles. The pickles are ready to eat when the cucumber turns khaki green in color, and they smell faintly of vinegar. This will take about 5 to 7 days in hot weather and 15 to 20 days in colder weather.
  7. Once the pickles are ready to eat, drizzle in the oil and store refrigerated.
Garlic Mayonnaise
  1. Crush the garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle until it forms a smooth paste.
  2. Whisk together the garlic paste and egg until well blended.
  3. Add the oil, drop-by-drop, while whisking (after you’ve added 1 tablespoon of oil drop-by-drop, you can add the oil a little faster). Make sure the oil you add is fully incorporated before adding any more.
  4. Once you’ve added ½ cup (125 ml) oil, alternate between gradually adding the oil and lemon juice and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the cold water and mix until smooth and creamy.
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.

Here are eight other fabulous bloggers participating in the Mid-East Feast where we are trying out some of Faith’s recipes from her new cookbook.  Please pop by and see how their Shawarma turned out this week.

Brandy – Nutmeg Nanny
Amanda – Fake Ginger
Gina – Running to the Kitchen
Joanne – Eats Well With Others
Heather – Girlichef
Natasha – Five Star Foodie
Megan – What’s Megan Making
Rachel – Baked by Rachel
This post has been linked up to Beyond the Peel’s Keep It Real Thursdays.

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  1. These Chicken Shawarma Wraps look great

  2. Ten times? I don’t think I can :-) This looks really freakin’ good! I’m sure Eric would love this!

  3. Those look delicious, Jeanette! Seems like you are having a great time with that cookbook.

  4. I was really looking forward to these, as well…and they did not disappoint! Love all your wrapper variations…I’d be happy eating any one of them. Yours turned out beautifully!

  5. It’s funny that you mention that about fast food joints — I always say the same thing, lol! I’m so glad these were a hit with your family, Jeanette…I love the idea of using collard greens as the wrapper…I am trying that this week! (Shawarma is on the menu, lol!) Sometimes I’ll also eat the meat on top of a salad and use a thinned out sesame sauce or thinned out garlic mayo as dressing…sounds strange, but it’s soooo good! :)

    • Faith – another great recipe from your upcoming cookbook! These were so good, truly. I am having so much fun learning more about Middle Eastern Cuisine.

  6. You had me at Garlic Mayonnaise. Or maybe it was at Chicken Shawarma. Oh, no, wait! It was at the picture of all those beautiful spices. Whatever it was, I can’t wait to try this!

  7. Hi Jeanette,
    If there is a shawarma cult then I’m part of it:) It is one of mine and hubby’s favorite Middle-Eastern food. Your photos and Faith’s recipe are making my tummy grumble and my mouth water. I love your Shawarma Chicken Collard Wraps, what a great idea too. Okay I seriously need a shawarma fix now;)

  8. Heavenly! I just love all those spices!!

  9. So glad you all are liking these Sharwarma Chicken Wraps as much as I do! Can’t wait to make these again for my family – would make a fun entertaining idea too.

  10. They look awesome Jeanette! Those are on my list of “must-make” recipes from Faith’s book (along with countless others!)

  11. I can’t wait to try these. Would make a great party food. These look so delicious.

  12. What a gorgeous collection of ingredients and aromatic spices. I’m a big fan of Shawarma (and especially the pickled turnip that typically accompanies them – in these parts anyway – but that’s another obsession story ;-)). Wonderful job Jeanette!

  13. This looks delicious!

    I get so frustrated by international snack food/fast food that turns out to be so involved. This at least makes a good meal, but some dishes that you really want to try making do not make any kind of nutritional contribution to your meals and you are left trying to decide if they are worth the effort….

  14. These wraps look great Jeanette. LOVE Faith’s book and can’t wait to run a post on it as well :)

  15. I made a tofu version of these this weekend and LOVED them! The spice mix was just perfect in so many ways. So glad your wraps turned out just as deliciously!

  16. I love Middle Eastern food, but I’ve never had shawarma. I might have to try making these with tofu like the commenter above!

  17. Yum! These wraps look incredible!

  18. This looks absolutely wonderful! I’m not a pickle person, so I probably wouldn’t make those. But I’d definitely try everything else!

  19. How cool that you experimented with four different wrappers! I enjoyed the version with pickles and garlic mayo tonight and still have lots of chicken left so might experiment with other additions tomorrow :)

  20. I can’t wait to get my spice on. That plate of delicious spices is ridiculously enticing.

  21. Something to try one this weekend. Super yummy and I bet that my friends will love this if I make a batch of these mouth watering shawarma for them.

    • Larisa – I am making a double batch next week, one for my family and another to share with friends – it is so good!

  22. I love how much you stuffed into yours. I seriously cannot wait to make these again. They were SO good!!

  23. I was planning to buy a small rotesserie for the home, to get the perfect shawarma.
    Any idea how the meat is fixed onto the rotesseire ?

  24. I just had shawarma for first time recently and now I’m obsessed. I was just asking a friend for the recipe today! What’s also funny is the place I had shawarma they recommended a special house pickle and garlic mayo with it. This looks so perfect Jeanette!

    • Jeanette Jeanette says:

      Aggie – the first time I made shawarma was for Faith’s cookbook review – it was so good and I have been obsessed ever since!

  25. Saadiyah says:

    Hi Jeanette,
    I made this yesterday and the chicken came out prrfect but my garlic mayonnaise turned out to be very liquidy. Do you know what that why that would happen? Thank you

    • Jeanette Jeanette says:

      Perhaps the oil was added too quickly – you have to add it very very slowly so it emulsifies.

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