Shawarma is a Lebanese-style sandwich, an Arabic version of the Turkish döner kebap. It's very similar to the Greek gyros in the way a stack of marinated slices of beef, lamb or chicken is cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The tower of meat is topped with fat, a whole tomato and onion that drip oil and juices over the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
Gyros and shawarma differ in sauce, ingredients and garnishes. Gyros sandwich has tzatziki sauce, tomato, onion and fried potatoes added to the meat. Tahini sauce (sometimes hummus or a garlic aoli) is used in shawarma then tomato, onion, lettuce, parsley, pickled turnips and in some countries, french fries and cheese are added.
I've been looking for a perfect Shawarma recipe but none of the recipes I've tried in the past from cookbooks and blogs have been very successful. That is until I found one from Monique Zaarour's The Lebanese Kitchen (available at the momgateway store). It is the best so far, not yet perfect but pretty good. Monique tailors it for the Western kitchen by pre-cutting the meat and using a regular oven as it's almost impossible to have a counter top shawarma oven in North America.
2 lbs beef sirloin, cut into strips (or beef+lamb or chicken)
3 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp allspice (I added a more of this)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp mastic, crushed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5 Tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
2 garlic cloves crushed
5 Tbsp lemon juice
thinly sliced onions
thinly sliced tomatoes
finely chopped parsley
- Mix the seasonings and rub into the steak strips. Marinade the beef for six hours, stirring every hour.
- Place the seasoned meat in a rimmed baking dish then cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (475 F) for about 40 minutes.
- Combine tahini sauce ingredients in a food processor and set aside. Pour tahini sauce over the meat and serve on a plate or as a sandwich with shredded letttuce, onions, tomato and parsley. Enjoy! This was part of my guest post last week for OuR KrAzY kitChEn.
- NOTE: My son prefers cheese with his shawarma so I add it even if it is not authentic Lebanese.