Shawarma is a typical Middle Eastern street food that’s sold on street corner kiosks, fast food joints, and restaurants in Middle Eastern countries and beyond.
It’s sort of similar to the Greek Gyro but is seasoned with different spices and allowed to marinate for at least a few hours. It’s usually cooked very much like the Turkish Doner Kebab which is a cone of mixed meats (beef, lamb, and chicken) cooked on a vertical spit. Typically it’s served as a Shawarma Sandwich which is pita bread stuffed with shaved meat, tahini sauce, and fresh and pickled veggies. It can also be served as a plate with rice, salad, hummus, and pita bread.
Today most Middle Eastern restaurants and fast food places serve specific shawarma meats such as beef or chicken shawarma in a sandwich or as a plate. Needless to say both are very popular in our family!
But the real secret to Shawarma isn’t the meat or the way it’s cooked. The secret lies in the spices used. You can make shawarma in your oven, grill, and even in your Instant Pot. In fact I always make it in my Instant Pot! I’m working on an article to share how to make Beef Shawarma in an Instant Pot; but before I can make any type of shawarma using any method I have to season the meat!
I’m actually a big believer in spice rubs. I make all sorts of rubs for different things such as my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub. I mean sauces are great for adding flavor to meat after it’s cooked, but what really gives meat great flavor are rubs and marinades. So if you want to make homemade shawarma that tastes like you ordered it from a Middle Eastern restaurant you’ll need this Shawarma Spice Mix.
I usually mix up a large batch; large meaning enough mix to fill a quart sized Mason Jar. I store my Shawarma Spice Mix in a sealed jar in my pantry, it stays fresh for about 3 months, assuming you don’t use it all before then! The spice mix can be used for beef or chicken shawarma and can even be added to other recipes when you’re wanting to add a touch of exotic flavorings.
To use the mix as a marinade for shawarma I use a teaspoon of mix per pound of meat. Combine the mix with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar, and a pinch of salt then massage it on to the meat. Place the meat in a ziplock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
Lamb is a type of red meat from young sheep (under a year old). Depending on the cut lamb can have more calories than beef or pork, but this can be offset if you trim off the fat. Lamb has less marbling so once the fat is trimmed it is much leaner form of protein. Not only is it a rich source of high-quality protein, it is also a freat source of many vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.This. This makes lamb a very healthy choice.
Lamb is a popular choice in many Middle Eastern and European countries. One of the most popular way to prepare is are these grilled Lamb Kabobs.
I’ve heard many people say that lamb has a strong gamey taste. I agree! But first of all you need to make sure you’re actually cooking lamb, not mutton. Lamb is the meat of sheep that are less than a year old. Adult sheep meat is called mutton. Mutton has a much stronger taste and smell.
But even lamb can have a mild gamey taste and smell. Whenever I prepare it at home I always marinate it first in lemon juice, it cuts the gamey taste and smell. Then I marinate the lamb in seasonings before grilling. This makes the Lamb Kabobs tasty and tender. My family loves them! Served with rice pilaf or roasted potatoes they make a delicious meal for our Sunday barbecues.
Here’s my recipe!
Makes 8 Kabobs
2 – 3 Lbs. Boneless Leg of Lamb
1 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Minced Garlic
1 Tsp. Rosemary
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Pkg. Mushrooms
Wash lamb, trim fat, cut into 1″ cubes
Place cubes in large ziplock bag and squeeze lemon juice over all.
Shake bag to cover the meat.
Refrigerate about 1 hour.
After 1 hour remove lamb cubes from lemon juice and rinse.
Place in a clean ziplock bag and add olive oil and spices.
Shake to cover meat.
Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Cut green pepper and onion into 1″ pieces.
Skewer meat, peppers, mushrooms, and onion on metal or bamboo skewers. Alternate meat and veggies.
Grill to desired doneness or about 5 -7 minutes. Do not over cook. Meat should be pinkish in the middle.