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