|Main ingredients||Meat: lamb, chicken, turkey, beef
Sandwich: Shawarma meat, pita or wrap bread, chopped or shredded vegetables, pickles and assorted condiments
Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما / ALA-LC: shāwarmā; Urdu: شوارمہ) is a Levantine meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba. It is akin to the Turkish Döner Kebab and the Greek Gyros. A related Armenian dish is tarna 'to turn'.
Shawarma is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat on a stick. An onion, a tomato, or a halved lemon is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for additional flavoring. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours (see rotisserie). Traditionally, a wood fire was used; currently, a gas flame is common. While specialty restaurants might offer two or more meat selections, some establishments have just one skewer.
While cooking, the meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife, an electric knife or a small circular saw, dropping to a circular tray below to be retrieved. Shawarma is eaten as a fast food, made up into a sandwich wrap with pita bread or rolled up in an Armenian lavash flatbread together with vegetables and dressing. A variety of vegetables come with the shawarma which include: cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, pickles, and cabbage. This will optionally be accompanied by French fries in some countries, including: Jordan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, India, and Saudi Arabia, also countries in Europe such as Romania, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and the United Kingdom, and in Australia. Other options include thick cut French fries served inside the lavash to help soak up the sauce and juices, keeping them inside the wrap.
Dressings include: tahini (or tahina), amba sauce (pickled mango with chili), hummus, or flavored with vinegar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Chicken shawarma is served with garlic mayonnaise, toum (garlic sauce), pomegranate concentrate, or skhug (a hot chili sauce). Once the shawarma is made, it might be dipped in the fat dripping from the skewer and then briefly seared against the flame.
In Saudi Arabia, goat is as common as beef or lamb. Less common alternatives include fish and sausage. Some shawarma stores use hot dog buns or baguettes, but most have pita and lavash. In India, chicken and mutton are more common, and rumali roti is also used as a wrap, along with khubz and a long bun called "samoli".
In popular culture
Israeli famous comedic group HaGashash HaHiver has a famous musical sketch called "Cantata Le'Shawarma", which is a Romeo and Juliet story between the son of a Shawarma stand owner and the daughter of a Milk bar owner.
In the 2012 film The Avengers, Tony Stark jokingly asks the group of superheroes to a shawarma restaurant. They are shown eating together in a short post-credit scene.
- Philip Mattar (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa (Hardcover ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. p. 840. ISBN 0028657713. "Shawarma is a popular Levantine Arab specialty."
- John A La Boone III (2006). Around the World of Food: Adventures in Culinary History (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc. p. 115. ISBN 0595389686. "Shawarma - An Arab sandwich similar to the gyro."
- Aglaia Kremezi and Anissa Helou, "What's in a Dish's Name", "Food and Language", Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2009, ISBN 190301879X
- Terrorism, the Origin and the Sources: An Anthology of Poetry Ambigrams and Political Oratories, p. 307.
- yalla-yalla.co.uk, Beirut street food in London
- mrfalafel.net, item descriptions
- Media related to Shawarma at Wikimedia Commons