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Type Meat
Place of origin Ottoman Empire[1]
Region or state Middle East, Levant
Main ingredients Meat: lamb, chicken, turkey, beef
Sandwich: Shawarma meat or shawarma falafel, pita or wrap bread, chopped or shredded vegetables, pickles and assorted condiments
Cookbook: Shawarma  Media: Shawarma

Shawarma (Arabic: شاورما‎) also spelled shawurma or shawerma, 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.[2][3] 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. Shawarma can be served on a plate (generally with accompaniments), or as a sandwich or wrap. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba.

Related dishes in the region include Turkish döner kebab and Greek gyros.[4]


Grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks was developed in the 19th century in Ottoman Turkey.[5][6] This is döner kebab, which is the origin of shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros.


Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning', in reference to the rotisserie-cooked nature of the meat, which turns around an axis.[7] Similar naming conventions apply to the Turkish döner and the Greek gyros, both of which reference the turning action of the associated cooking mechanism.

In popular media[edit]

  • Towards the end of the 2012 superhero film The Avengers, after the group's battle with the Chitauri army, Iron Man expresses his desire to eat shawarma to celebrate. In the post-credit scene, the titular group is seen tiredly eating shawarma at a local eatery in New York City.[8] According to TMZ this led to a temporary boost in shawarma sales in Los Angeles when the movie opened.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Prichep, Deena; Estrin, Daniel. "Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor". Retrieved 19 March 2017. 
  2. ^ Philip Mattar (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle Eastern (Hardcover ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. p. 840. ISBN 0028657713. Shawarma is a popular Levantine Arab specialty. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Eberhard Seidel-Pielen (May 10, 1996). "Döner-Fieber sogar in Hoyerswerda" [Doner fever even in Hoyerswerda]. ZEIT ONLINE (in German). Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  6. ^ Kenneth F. Kiple, Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas, eds., Cambridge World History of Food, Cambridge, 2000. ISBN 0-521-40216-6. Vol. 2, p. 1147
  7. ^ Reporter, Mohammed N. Al Khan, Staff (31 July 2009). "Shawarma: the Arabic fast food". 
  8. ^ "'The Avengers': The story of the after-credits shawarma scene". 
  9. ^ "'Avengers' Joke Skyrockets Shawarma Sales In Los Angeles". 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Shawarma at Wikimedia Commons