Shawarma is one of Israel’s most popular street foods. It’s usually made from Turkey meat (surprising, right?!) that’s layered on a spit with lamb fat and seasoning for days as it slowly cooks its way to perfection. It’s traditionally served with pickles, cabbage, umba (mango chutney) fries, salad and spicy peppers. Of course, a ton of time and technique goes into this traditional sandwich but I just love it so much that I found a way to make my own version at home.
Shawarma is served in a pita or laffa (Iraqi pita baked in a tandoor oven). But I go easy on myself and pick up a fresh ciabatta loaf from one of my local stops. It works really well with the spice and creaminess of the chicken. Don’t act like you’re not excited.
1 lb chicken thigh — boneless, skinned
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon squeezed
salt and pepper
Raw tahini, pickled eggplant and fresh parsley to serve
pickled eggplant —
1 eggplant — sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
Olive oil for frying
salt to taste
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup water
ciabatta or fresh pita bread to serve
parsley salad —
1 cup parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
Place chicken, curry powder, cumin, coriander, lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, garlic, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag. Mix and place in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours. (I do this the night before, so the chicken really absorbs all the flavors.)
Get a grill pan hot and grill the chicken for 10 minutes on one side, or until golden and there are solid grill marks on it. Flip the chicken over and repeat. Turn the heat to medium low and let grill for another 10-15 minutes until cooked. Let rest for a few minutes, before slicing it against the grain.
To assemble, place a couple slices of eggplant on your bread. Layer a few slices of chicken and drizzle with raw tahini. To top it off, garnish with parsley, some lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Press down on the sandwich, cut in half (to see that beautiful center!) and enjoy.