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Shawarma (2223426004).jpg
Shawarma in a pita
Type Meat
Place of origin Levant
Main ingredients Meat: lamb, chicken, turkey, beef
Sandwich: Shawarma meat or shaorma falafel, pita or wrap bread, chopped or shredded vegetables, pickles and assorted condiments
Cookbook: Shawarma  Media: Shawarma

Shawarma or Shawurma (Arabic: شاورما‎ / ALA-LC: shāwarmā;) is a Levantine Arab[1][2] 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. 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.

Similar dishes in the region include Turkish döner kebabs and Greek gyros.[3]


Shawarma or shawurma is a bilingual compound word with an Arabic prefix شواء Shawa, which means cooking meat, and the Turkish word çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning', in reference to the rotisserie-cooked nature of the meat, which "turns" around an axis.[4] Similar naming conventions apply to the Turkish döner and the Greek gyro, both of which reference the turning action of the associated cooking mechanism.


Shawarma in Jerusalem
Shawarma on a spit

Shawarma is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat on a vertical spit. An onion, a tomato, or a halved lemon is sometimes placed at the top for decoration. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours (see rotisserie). Gas or electric heat is used; formerly, there was a cage holding burning charcoal or wood. Some restaurants offer two or more meat selections; many have just one.

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 or lavash 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, rhubarb, cabbage, or French fries.

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, toumaia (garlic sauce), pomegranate concentrate, or skhug (a hot chili sauce).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ Terrorism, the Origin and the Sources: An Anthology of Poetry Ambigrams and Political Oratories, p. 307.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Shawarma at Wikimedia Commons