Chicken Shawarma (Middle Eastern)

The Art of Making Shawarma: Techniques and Traditions of Middle Eastern Street Food

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Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern street food that has captured the taste buds of people around the world. This delicious dish consists of meat that is marinated, seasoned, and roasted on a vertical spit, and then shaved off and served in a pita bread or wrap with various toppings and sauces. The art of making shawarma is a time-honored tradition in Middle Eastern cuisine, with various techniques and regional variations that reflect the country’s culinary diversity. In this article, we will explore the techniques and traditions of making shawarma from scratch.

Origins and Significance of Shawarma

Shawarma has its roots in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria. The dish has a long history and is believed to have originated in the Ottoman Empire. Today, shawarma is a popular street food in the Middle East and has gained popularity in many other parts of the world.

Making Shawarma from Scratch

Making shawarma from scratch requires a few essential tools, such as a vertical spit or rotisserie, a sharp knife, and a marinade. The meat is usually marinated for several hours in a mixture of spices and seasonings, such as cumin, coriander, paprika, and garlic. Once the meat is marinated, it is skewered onto the spit and roasted for several hours until it is cooked through and tender.

Techniques and Traditions of Shawarma Making

The technique for making shawarma varies depending on the region of the Middle East. In Lebanon, for example, shawarma is traditionally made with chicken or lamb, while in Turkey, it is often made with beef or a combination of beef and lamb. In Syria, shawarma is typically served with a garlic sauce and pickled vegetables.

Shawarma Fillings and Sauces

The filling for shawarma is typically made with meat that has been roasted on a spit and shaved off in thin slices. The meat is usually served in a pita bread or wrap with various toppings, such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles. Sauces also play an important role in enhancing the flavors of shawarma. Traditional sauces include tahini sauce, garlic sauce, and yogurt sauce.

Serving and Pairing Shawarma

Shawarma can be served in a variety of ways, from a simple wrap to a plated dish with sides. When serving shawarma, it is important to pair it with complementary dishes and drinks. In the Middle East, shawarma is often served with hummus, tabbouleh, and falafel. Tea and lemonade are popular drinks to pair with shawarma.


The art of making shawarma is a time-honored tradition in Middle Eastern cuisine that reflects the country’s culinary diversity and cultural significance. From the techniques and traditions of making shawarma to the different variations of the dish found throughout the Middle East, shawarma is a beloved and flavorful street food that continues to delight people around the world. Whether served in a wrap or on a plate, shawarma is a delicious and satisfying dish that embodies the spirit of Middle Eastern cuisine.

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