Friday, March 5, 2010

Shawarma: Lebanese Treat

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

Tahini sauce
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.


Juliana said...

Wow, indeed a treat :-) The meat sound and look absolutely delicious, first the marinate and then the tahini sauce...nice meal.

Sharlene T. said...

That is good eating! Wow! Must try. Thanks for sharing.

A Year on the Grill said...

What a great post... love this a lot!

Anna said...

Wow, I'm glad I fond your blog, you have delicious recipes here. This dish looks delicious. :-)

Sook said...

Oooh looks so delicious!

Carolyn Jung said...

One of my favorite meals ever. I crave shawarma every couple of months. I admit I mostly buy it, though, from a fave Middle Eastern restaurant.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Yum! shawarma is so delicious but I've never known how to make it until now! :D

lululu said...

wow, what a stunning looking treat! love the color combination.

Simply Life said...

i love almost anything in a pita! :)

theUngourmet said...

I used to work in a restaurant that served this. Oh how I miss eating it. Looks so delicious!