Chicken Shawarma

I often associate memories with food (or food with memories?) and eating kebab always reminds me of Paris.  Strange, eh? Well, not so much.  As I have already mentioned in my post on Fried Rice, foreign food restaurants and eateries were not so common while I was growing up in Italy.  And that too in such a big and cosmopolitan city like Milan.  So my main source for “unusual” food was France.  North African and Middle Eastern cuisines are probably the most common non-French cuisines in France (together with South East Asian) and you can find a big variety of dishes and delicacies from cous cous to tajines to fresh dates (I had never seen them before) to falafel and kebabs.  The way I have always enjoyed kebab (or shawarma, as they seem to be the same dish with a name that changes from country to country) was inside some pita bread, with tahini and/or yogurt sauce, salad, tomatoes, onion rings and fries.  And I LOVED it.  In more recent years, Milan started to open up to different cultures and it is now common to find places that sell kebabs, just the way I like them.  When I moved to Australia, I was very surprised to see that the kebab sold here is very different.  First of all it is made either with chicken or beef (I had always only seen chicken and lamb in Europe), then it is served rolled up in the thin Lebanese bread (khubz) and often served with cheese and/or barbecue sauce (though even the more “traditional” sauces are available).  I am not sure of the reasons for these differences, but I really missed the “European” version.  So, when I saw my friend Sawsan’s recipe for Chicken Shawarma at Chef in disguise, I knew the time had finally come to try making it at home!  Sawsan lives in Jordan and has a fantastic website with lots of yummy recipes and beautiful pictures: make sure to check it out.  I really admire her.  She is really talented and is an amazing person.  She served her shawarma in a slightly different way (which I am sure is just as great), but I had a “mission” and adapted her recipe to complete it.  I used her marinade and cooking method to the “T” and the chicken was delicious: moist and full of flavours!  I served it in my whole meal pita, with tomatoes, red onion rings, coriander leaves, baked potato chips and tarator sauce.  What is the verdict you may ask?  It was perfect!  I have finally found my “long lost kebab”… and now I can make it and eat it any time I want!  Thank you so much Sawsan!!
I am linking this recipe to the Cook Around the Globe monthly event hosted by German Mama of From Arepas to Zwetschgen.  After making Mojitos for last month’s region (the North Caribbean), this month’s region is the Arabian Peninsula where shawarma is quite popular.

Recipe adapted from Chef in disguise

300 gms – 10.5 oz. chicken tenderloins, cut in strips
1 red onion, thinly sliced
A few cherry tomatoes, sliced
Coriander leaves
Baked chips (made with extra virgin olive oil and salt)
Tarator Sauce
Whole meal Pita Bread

For the chicken marinade
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 cup yogurt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp tahini sauce
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of mastic


NOTE: mastic can be found in specialty shops that sell Middle Eastern ingredients.  I found it easily at my local Lebanese shop.  It is a bit pricey but you only need very little.

Put all the dry spices in a food processor and reduce them into a powder.

Put all the marinade ingredients in a big bowl and mix well.

Add the chicken tenderloins and coat them well with the marinade.

Cover and refrigerate overnight for best results.

The following day, cut the potatoes in strips and put them in some cold water for 30 minutes.

Then drain them and put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and salt and toss to combine.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 200°C for about 15 minutes or until golden and crunchy.

While the potatoes are baking, drain the chicken from the marinade and pan fry it with some extra virgin olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cooked through.

Chicken Shawarma

Now you are ready to assemble you shawarma sandwich.

Open the pita bread to create a pocket.  Put some tarator sauce, chicken, tomatoes, onion slices, coriander and baked chips in it.  Enjoy!

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma


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  1. says

    Wow what a wonderful Kabob. If I cant find the mastic can I not use it? The spices you are using reminds me of a middle eastern Baharat. I will definately make this soon. I bookmarked it for later. Thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    This looks delicious! Chicken and turkey shawarma are always my favorites. In Israel lamb is most common, but a few places also offer chicken or turkey. It’s always shaved off the spit and pit in a pita just like this with tahina and different salads. Great recipe!

  3. says

    I LOVE shwarma! That’s how they make them here, with fries and I LOVE it! I’ve tried to make it at home, but it’s never as good as what I get around town. Great post, I’ve got to try your recipe!

  4. says

    YUMMY! Love how you tied all the posts I missed together with the shawarma! :) I’ve never had one before, but it sounds wonderful! Love tarator sauce because tahini is a huge favorite of mine. More beautiful food from Manu!

  5. says

    My favourite…though I never make them at home. Houston has great shwarama places and I found a place in Denver now so I just go and pick one up when I want. However, yours look delicious and if I lived closer I would just come over to your place :)

  6. says

    My first introduction to shawarma was when I was in Dubai…
    I think its one of those dishes where you just can’t stop eating…
    This looks absolutely perfect Manu..
    Look at those fries……….
    God you always make me so hungryyyy….

  7. says

    Yummy. I can also totally hear you how you got exposed to international food first in Paris. I had some of my favorite middle eastern foods in Amsterdam and London. Love your story and recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  8. says

    I’ve had beef shawarma before never chicken and it tasted so heavenly… I can imagine how the chicken shawarma would taste… Got me craving :) Love the photos

  9. says

    I can only say: wonderful! Here kebab is very similar to the European version, so am not missing it so much, but your pics look so good, I might actually put in the effort of making it!

  10. says

    Perfect! I live in France and just last night we got kabobs and shwarma! I would love to know how to make them at home and this is one great recipe! Thanks!

  11. says

    Looks delicious! The photos are great. I would love to try making this but have no idea where I would find a middle eastern food shop here in Washington DC : (

  12. says

    When you come to Milan we must eat a kebab together…or maybe not since you make them so well at home now. We’ll have the lasagna you mentioned you are craving. Or perhaps a panzerotto at Luini?

  13. says

    This looks so wonderful! I am a huge shawarma fan (I guess I have to be living in Israel) The most common shawarma here is lamb and its sooo good. I have never made it since there are so many amazing places that have it, but I really should try my own version!

  14. says

    I love schwarma! This looks delicious!

    I’ve never actually added fries to mine, though probably the best meal I ever ate was at a little schwama stand in Israel where there were fries- and a million other delicious things- in the pita.

  15. Cameron says

    Hi Manu,
    Chicken is marinading in the fridge, I’m sure it’s going to be delicious.
    May I ask what sort of vinegar you use?

    • says

      Hi Cameron! I am so happy you are trying this!!! :-)))) And thank you for letting me know! I have actually used red wine vinegar, but any vinegar will work as there is only 1 tbsp in the marinade, so it shouldn’t make much difference! :-) I really hope you like it! :-)

  16. says

    Hi Manu,
    I loved this recipe and your blog is gorgeous. Growing up in Saudi and Dubai , I have eaten plenty of shawarma and I love it.
    I’ll definitely try this recipe.
    I’ve also started a food blog which I’d like to share with you and I’d love you to come and visit.

    Also I’m a huge fan of Italian food, so this blog will be bookmarked whenever I need any Italian recipe ideas. :)

    Cheers, Manju

  17. Bhaws says

    Oh man Its soo tempting..feeling like eating this right away..
    I am definately gona try this at home. Me n my hubby love love this ..

  18. Lois patrick says

    Hi manu, iam happy to go through this.honestly i love shawarma, but dont know how to make them because i have not came across the good and reliable recipes like yours thank iam sure iam going to do well this time.the problem now is to get all those ingredence in nigeria (africa) is going to be hard eg vinegar,paprika tahim sauces cadamon cinnnamom, baby leaves mastic, please can i have another names for these so i could be able to try, we could have all these here but names could be the problem.thanks

  19. joseph says

    Please i need the sauce which i can use to spice chicken shawarma in Nigeria,according to the available source in Nigeria.


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