All About Shawarma

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Shawarma Made Mike’s Way (With Extra Garlic Mayo) 

On our trip to the Middle East last spring, Mike and I enjoyed a lot of good food.  We stuffed ourselves on home-cooked meals like molokhia (slimy green soup), kibbeh, kousa mahshi (stuffed marrow squash or zucchini), and waraq al ainab (stuffed grape leaves), but we also had our fair share of fast food favorites like falafel, hummus, and of course, shawarma.

Shawarma can be made from just about any kind of meat you can imagine, but chicken and lamb are particularly popular (chicken is my personal favorite).  Before being cooked, the meat is marinated and spiced (spices used vary from vendor to vendor), and then formed into a cone shape on a vertical rotisserie.  As the meat turns on the rotisserie, the outer layer cooks, crisping in places, and the juices are caught in a drip pan below.  The cooked meat is thinly sliced, tossed in the juices, and made into sandwiches, and then the next layer of meat cooks.

The Ultimate Meat on a Stick…Just Look at This Thing of Beauty 

When Mike and I were in Damascus, one day we were out shopping when hunger and a huge craving for shawarma hit us simultaneously.  It was kind-of early and since most shawarma shops don’t have shawarma ready until around noon, we didn’t think we’d be able to get shawarma.  We were in luck though.  We stopped at the first place we saw, which looked pretty good.  (TIP:  One way to find a good shawarma place is to see where the crowd flocks to.  Another way is to see how many shawarma spits they have; the more they have, the more they sell, which means they keep busy and you can probably expect them to have good food.  If all else fails, you can always ask a local where to get the best shawarma.)

The name of the restaurant was Food Palace, and yeah, I guess that is a little cheesy.  We were glad we went there though, since the shawarma was amazing.  And funnily enough, the owner is from Jacksonville, Florida!  He was a really nice guy and let us take all kinds of pictures…

The Shawarma Master (above)

Thinly Shaving the Meat (above) 

The Drip Pan, With Clarified Butter and the Meat Juices (above)

The Art of Shawarma Sandwich Making:  1) Spread on a Little Garlic Mayo and Clarified Butter, 2) Layer on the Meat (and don’t forget the pickles!), 3) Roll it Up, 4) Dip it in the Juices (above)  You Can Ask for Any Kind of Pickles You Like (I like mine with extra pickles!) (above)

The Sandwich is Pressed on the Griddle (above) 

Fast Food Perfection…

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  1. says

    I was always curious about this kind of meat and the sandwiches that are made. So, thanks for the info, now I have a good idea and I think it looks pretty tasty!

  2. says

    CRAVING!!!!!!!!….! I really would love to try authentic shawarma. I’ve been eating it at a Lebanese restaurant and loved it, and now I found a French restaurant that has shawarma that puts the other to shame, but I can tell just by looking at these photos that it could be even better. I’m so CRAVING this now. You are so mean to me, Faith! haha

  3. says

    Gotcha, count the number of shawarma spits – great tip! I’ve never had a shawarma before, but now I’m suddenly craving for one. Your blog is torture to my stomach, ya know that? ;)(And I mean that in every good way possible.)

  4. says

    the squeamish 5-year-old in me gets a little grossed out by the huge hunk of meat rotating around like that, but she’s quickly silenced by the hungry 28-year-old who’s enamored of the way it tastes. great post! :)

    • admin says

      Tania, I also enjoyed the shawarma (which they call doner kebab) in Europe (I found it to be particularly good in Geneva), but if you get the chance to eat it in the Middle East I definitely recommend it — it’s amazing!

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