Posted in: Recipes

How to make Chicken Shawarma at Home

What is Shawarma?

Shawarma is a popular street food that originated in the Middle East and has gained popularity worldwide. It is a dish made with slices of meat, typically skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast, that are marinated in a flavorful mixture of eastern spices such as black pepper, garlic powder, allspice, turmeric, and paprika. The marinated chicken is then cooked on a vertical spit or rotisserie, which allows the meat to cook evenly and become juicy and tender. The cooked chicken is thinly sliced and served in warm pita bread or wrapped in a flatbread, along with a variety of toppings and sauces. One of the most common sauces used in shawarma is tahini sauce, made with sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The combination of tender and flavorful chicken, along with the creamy tahini sauce and other toppings, creates a mouthwatering dish that is loved by many. Whether enjoyed as a quick street food or a homemade meal, shawarma is a delicious and satisfying choice.

Popular Street Food

Shawarma, a popular street food with roots in the Middle East, has gained widespread popularity in many parts of the world. This flavorful dish holds significant cultural significance and has become a favorite among food enthusiasts.

Originating from Eastern street foods, shawarma is typically made by marinating slices of meat, such as skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast, in a blend of eastern spices like black pepper, garlic powder, turmeric, and allspice. The meat is then stacked on a vertical spit and slow-roasted until it reaches the perfect internal temperature.

Once cooked, the juicy chicken is thinly sliced and served in warm pita bread or over rice pilaf. It is often accompanied by delicious toppings and sauces, such as tahini sauce, tzatziki sauce, or garlic sauce. These condiments further enhance the flavors and add an extra kick to the dish.

Shawarma variations can include different ingredients and cooking methods, but the core essence remains the same – flavorful chicken that is tender and delicious. Whether you prefer boneless chicken thighs or chicken breast, the choice is yours.

So, the next time you crave this popular street food, try making your own chicken shawarma using the marinade ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and a mix of warm spices. Transform your kitchen into a shawarma joint and enjoy the rich flavors and aromas of this mouthwatering dish.

Eastern Flavors

Eastern flavors are an essential part of the mouthwatering shawarma recipe, adding a tantalizing aroma and taste to the dish. The combination of various spices creates a harmonious blend that elevates the flavor profile to new heights.

One of the key players in this savory symphony is paprika, infusing rich, smoky notes that add depth and complexity. Cumin, with its warm and earthy undertones, brings a distinctive touch to the marinade, enhancing the overall taste.

Other Eastern spices, such as coriander, sumac, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and red pepper flakes, contribute their unique characteristics. Coriander lends a citrusy and slightly floral flavor, sumac brings a tangy and lemony punch, while turmeric imparts a vibrant yellow hue and a mild, earthy taste.

Cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness and warmth, creating a delightful balance. Black pepper adds a touch of heat, while cardamom lends a subtle, aromatic flavor. Lastly, red pepper flakes bring a fiery kick that can be adjusted to personal preference.

Together, these Eastern flavors create a tantalizing symphony of taste, transforming simple chicken into a truly sensational experience. So, if you’re looking to add some exotic flair to your culinary repertoire, try out this shawarma recipe and indulge in the aromatic delight of Eastern spices.

Ingredients Needed for Shawarma Recipe

To make a delicious chicken shawarma, you will need a variety of flavorful ingredients. The star of the show is the chicken itself, which can be made using either skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts. Other essential elements of the marinade include olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a blend of eastern spices such as cumin, coriander, sumac, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and red pepper flakes. These spices add layers of complexity and a tantalizing aroma to the dish. To complement the juicy chicken, you will also need tahini sauce or yogurt sauce for drizzling, and warm pita bread or rice pilaf to serve as a base. To enhance the overall flavor, you can garnish with your choice of fresh vegetables such as cucumber, tomato, and lettuce. With these ingredients, you’ll be well on your way to creating a mouthwatering chicken shawarma that captures the authentic flavors of the Middle East.

Boneless Chicken Thighs or Breasts

When it comes to making a delicious chicken shawarma recipe, the choice of chicken is crucial. While both boneless chicken thighs and breasts can be used, many shawarma enthusiasts recommend using chicken thighs for a juicier and more flavorful result.

Boneless chicken thighs are known for their darker meat and slightly higher fat content compared to chicken breasts. This higher fat content helps to keep the meat moist and tender during cooking, resulting in a succulent and melt-in-your-mouth chicken shawarma experience.

Not only do chicken thighs provide a more luxurious texture, but their deeper flavor also adds richness to the overall dish. The natural oils in the dark meat lend themselves well to absorbing the aromatic marinade, ensuring that every bite of the shawarma is packed with delicious flavors.

However, if you prefer leaner meat, chicken breasts can still be used for your shawarma. Just make sure to marinate them for a longer period to prevent dryness and enhance their flavor. Whether you choose thighs or breasts, the key lies in the marinade and cooking method to ensure a perfectly seasoned and tender chicken shawarma.

So, whether you opt for boneless chicken thighs or breasts, your chicken shawarma will turn out to be a crowd-pleasing and flavorful dish that captures the essence of the popular street food.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is an essential ingredient in any chicken shawarma recipe, playing a crucial role in enhancing the flavor and imparting its health benefits. Known for its fruity and robust taste, virgin olive oil adds a distinctive Mediterranean touch to this popular street food.

Apart from its delectable flavor, virgin olive oil has numerous health benefits. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, which help to lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, this oil contains powerful antioxidants that protect the body against inflammation and oxidative stress.

When preparing chicken shawarma, virgin olive oil serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it acts as a marinade ingredient, combining with various spices and herbs to infuse the meat with a burst of flavor. The oil’s richness helps to lock in moisture, ensuring juicy and tender chicken.

Secondly, virgin olive oil can be used as a cooking oil for grilling or sautéing the marinated chicken. Its high smoke point makes it suitable for high-heat cooking methods, resulting in a beautifully charred exterior and a succulent interior.

Whether used as a marinade or cooking oil, virgin olive oil elevates the flavors of chicken shawarma and adds its Mediterranean charm. So, grab a bottle of this golden elixir and savor the taste and health benefits it brings to your next chicken shawarma creation.

Garlic Cloves

Garlic cloves are an essential ingredient in chicken shawarma, adding a bold flavor and irresistible aroma to this popular street food. The pungent and savory taste of garlic enhances the overall profile of the dish, making it a standout favorite.

For a well-balanced flavor, this chicken shawarma recipe calls for a generous amount of garlic cloves. The recipe typically uses around 4 to 6 cloves, depending on personal preference and desired intensity of garlic flavor. You can adjust the quantity to suit your taste.

To incorporate the garlic flavor into the marinade, simply peel and finely mince the cloves. Mix them with other marinade ingredients like lemon juice, olive oil, and a combination of warm spices such as allspice, turmeric, and paprika. Allow the chicken pieces to marinate in this mixture, allowing the garlic to infuse its wonderful taste.

When it comes to cooking, the garlic cloves continue to work their magic. As the chicken sizzles on the grill or in a pan, the garlic releases its aromatic and mouthwatering scent, further tantalizing your taste buds. The garlic-infused chicken, along with the other flavorful ingredients, creates a truly memorable chicken shawarma experience.

Incorporating garlic cloves into your chicken shawarma recipe is a key step in unlocking its full potential. So go ahead and savor the delicious flavor and aroma that garlic brings to this beloved dish.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice plays a vital role in this chicken shawarma recipe, adding a tangy and refreshing flavor to the dish. It not only enhances the overall taste but also helps to tenderize the chicken.

In the marinade, lemon juice is a key ingredient that helps to infuse the chicken with its zesty flavor. Combined with other ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and warm spices, the lemon juice works its magic by breaking down the meat’s fibers, resulting in a more tender and flavorful chicken.

But the use of lemon juice doesn’t stop there. It also features in the yogurt sauce, adding a bright and tangy element to complement the savory and aromatic flavors of the shawarma. This tangy yogurt sauce is traditionally served alongside the chicken shawarma, providing a cool and refreshing contrast to the warm spices.

Aside from its flavor-enhancing properties, lemon juice also offers health benefits. It is packed with vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system and helps in the absorption of iron. Additionally, the acidity in lemon juice aids digestion and can promote detoxification.

So, grab some fresh lemons and squeeze out that tangy juice to take your chicken shawarma to the next level. The bright and refreshing flavor will leave your taste buds craving for more.

Black Pepper

Black pepper plays a crucial role in the chicken shawarma recipe, adding a touch of warmth and depth to the dish. As one of the warm spices commonly used in Eastern flavors, black pepper contributes to the overall taste and aroma of the shawarma.

The pungent and slightly spicy flavor of black pepper enhances the flavor profile of the chicken, complementing the other spices and marinade ingredients. It provides a subtle kick and adds complexity to each bite. The amount of black pepper can be adjusted according to personal preference, allowing you to tailor the dish to your desired level of spiciness.

In Eastern street foods, such as shawarma, the use of warm spices, including black pepper, is a defining characteristic. These spices not only add flavor but also create an enticing aroma that fills the air, enticing hungry passersby.

Overall, black pepper is an essential ingredient in the chicken shawarma recipe. Its presence contributes to the authentic taste of this popular street food, making it a flavorsome and aromatic dish that satisfies the taste buds with its harmonious blend of Eastern flavors.

Hot Sauce (optional)

While not a traditional ingredient in chicken shawarma, hot sauce can add a fiery and flavorful kick to the dish. If you enjoy spicy foods, incorporating hot sauce into your chicken shawarma recipe can take it to the next level.

There are several popular options for hot sauce that you can use to spice up your shawarma. Sriracha, with its tangy and slightly sweet flavor, is a versatile choice. Tabasco, known for its vinegar-based heat, can add a zesty kick to the marinade or as a condiment. For those who prefer a North African flair, harissa with its smoky and complex flavors is a great option.

To incorporate hot sauce into your chicken shawarma, you can either add it to the marinade or use it as a condiment when serving. If adding it to the marinade, mix it with the other spices and ingredients to allow the flavors to meld together. If using it as a condiment, offer it alongside other traditional sauces like garlic sauce or tzatziki sauce, allowing each person to customize the heat level to their preference.

Remember, the addition of hot sauce is completely optional, and you can adjust the amount according to your desired level of spiciness. So go ahead and experiment with different hot sauce options to add a fiery kick to your chicken shawarma experience.

Tahini Sauce (optional)

Tahini sauce is a creamy and flavorful addition to chicken shawarma that can take your dish to the next level. While you can find store-bought tahini sauce, making it from scratch allows you to control the quality of the ingredients. For the best results, opt for organic sesame tahini in glass jars, as it tends to have a richer flavor.

To make tahini sauce, you will need to combine tahini, warm water, minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt if desired. Using a food processor, process the ingredients until they are well combined and the sauce reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. If you prefer a thinner sauce, you can add more warm water as needed.

While not necessary, adding some freshly chopped parsley to the tahini sauce can add a pop of freshness and color. Simply sprinkle it on top of the sauce and mix it in gently.

Once prepared, the tahini sauce can be drizzled over your chicken shawarma or served as a dipping sauce on the side. Its nutty and tangy flavors complement the warm spices of the shawarma perfectly, adding a delicious and creamy element to each bite. Enjoy!

Greek Yogurt (optional)

Greek yogurt is a versatile ingredient that adds a creamy and tangy flavor to the classic chicken shawarma recipe. While it is optional, it is highly recommended for those looking to incorporate a traditional element into their dish.

To incorporate Greek yogurt into the recipe, you can use it to make a delicious and refreshing yogurt sauce. This sauce can be served as a condiment alongside the chicken shawarma, adding another layer of flavor to the dish.

To make the yogurt sauce, simply combine Greek yogurt with minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Mix the ingredients together until well combined. The creamy texture and tangy taste of the Greek yogurt will complement the warm spices of the chicken shawarma.

When serving the chicken shawarma, you can place a dollop of the yogurt sauce on top or serve it on the side for dipping. The creamy and tangy flavors of the yogurt sauce will enhance the overall taste of the dish, adding a refreshing element to the flavorful chicken.

Incorporating Greek yogurt into the chicken shawarma recipe is an excellent way to elevate the dish and enhance its traditional eastern flavors. Whether you choose to include it or not, the choice is yours, but we highly recommend giving it a try for a creamy and tangy twist on this popular street food.

Cooking Method for Shawarma Recipe

When it comes to cooking chicken shawarma, there are a few different methods you can use to achieve that juicy and flavorful chicken. One popular cooking method is using a vertical rotisserie, also known as a spit. This method involves marinating the chicken pieces and layering them on a vertical spit, allowing them to cook slowly and evenly. As the spit rotates, the chicken gets cooked from all sides, ensuring a delicious and succulent result. If you don’t have a vertical rotisserie, you can still achieve great results by using a grill or stovetop. Simply heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and cook the chicken pieces in batches until they are browned and cooked through. Another option is to bake the chicken in the oven at 425°F (220°C) for about 20-25 minutes. Whichever method you choose, make sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it’s fully cooked. Once the chicken is done, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it into thin strips. This cooking method will give you tender and flavorful chicken for your homemade shawarma.

Preparation of the Chicken Pieces

To prepare the chicken pieces for this delicious chicken shawarma recipe, start by gathering your ingredients. You will need boneless chicken thighs, thin strips of meat that work perfectly in this dish.

Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken thighs into thin strips, ensuring they are of similar size for even cooking.

Next, prepare the marinade. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and a mixture of warm spices such as 1 teaspoon of allspice and 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Place the chicken strips into a resealable bag or container and pour the marinade over them, ensuring they are fully coated. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, though for best results, marinate overnight.

By marinating the chicken, you allow the flavors to penetrate and tenderize the meat, resulting in juicy, flavorful chicken once cooked.

Once the chicken has marinated, it is ready to be cooked according to your preferred cooking method, whether that be grilling, pan-frying, or broiling.

The preparation of the chicken pieces is a crucial step in creating a delicious chicken shawarma. By cutting the chicken thighs into thin strips and marinating them with lemon juice, olive oil, and a blend of warm spices, you ensure that every bite is bursting with incredible flavor.


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