Chicken shawarma recipe – Shawarma or shawurma is a Arab dish that is prepared by grilling meat on a spit. It is most popular in many parts of the world and is served almost everywhere from restaurants to the fast food chains.
Shawarma is prepared by stacking strips of marinated meat and fats alternately on a vertical spit, resulting in a large block of meat & fats.
The block of meat is grilled slowly while the spit rotates. Grilled meat is shredded off from the spit when needed and served as an appetizer or used to make shawarma wraps or rolls.
I have come across few places serving these shawarma in Bangalore and in Singapore. I thought making these at home was just impossible since it needs a spit.
When I was looking for alternate ways to make at home, I found this recipe on New York Times and loved it for its simplicity.
I also felt this is much healthier than the shawarma made on spits as they are grilled for long hours (as long as for a day) and the usage of heavy fats.
Chicken shawarma done on the spits taste very delicious due to the slow grilling on low heat which actually keeps it tender & juicy.
This simple recipe will give you the best flavorful shawarma at home with only a handful of ingredients.
You may also like these 70 chicken recipes.
How to make shawarma at home
1. Cut chicken breasts and thigh to 1 ½ inch pieces. Set this aside
2. Preparing the marinade: Add the following ingredients to a mixing bowl.
1 ½ garlic clove minced about 1 large
1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp cumin powder / jeera
¼ tsp all spice powder
½ tsp chilli powder / paprika
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
Salt as needed
1/8 tsp pepper
3. Mix all the ingredients. I also added 2 tbsp greek yogurt / hung curd (fresh, not sour).
4. Add lemon juice only if needed to give a slight tang. I use about 1.5 tsps. Mix everything well and check the salt.
5. Marinate chicken well. The marinade must be thick and not runny.
6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. I prefer 24 hours. The longer we rest, it turns more tender and flavorful.
Grilling chicken shawarma
7. As I mentioned earlier, my experience with grilling this in a oven did not yield me very good results. So I do it in a pan. If you have a grill pan, go ahead and use it.
8. Turn on the flame to the highest. Heat a non stick pan with half tbsp oil. When the pan turns really hot, place the chicken pieces separately with out crowding. Flip them to all the sides for even cooking. Note that I grilled the 300 grams chicken in 2 batches. Do not crowd the pan, chicken begins to release moisture if crowded.
9. When the marinade almost begins to caramelize then put the flame to medium high . Continue to cook until the marinade completely dries up and the chicken is completely cooked. Since the chicken is marinated well in yogurt, it cooks fast.
10. You will have to control the flame else it might char the meat and turn it hard. So i switch off the stove for a while. Quickly with a wooden spoon cut the chicken further.
I cook further for one to 2 mins to make sure chicken is cooked well. Set the chicken aside. Add quartered layers separated onions and quartered deseeded tomatoes to the pan and toss for few mins on a high flame.
Chicken shawarma is great to serve as a party appetiser or even as a meal if you wrap it up in pita bread, tortillas, naan or roti.
I have also shared how to make shawarma rolls. I made pita bread the same day to make the rolls.
You can also learn how to make 2 kinds of dips which you can either use as a dip or as a spread. Both have been loved by my kids at home.
For the rolls I spread the garlic yogurt sauce then placed lettuce and then the chicken shawarma. Wrapped it up to a shawarma roll. It tastes yum and no less than any shawarma you get in a good Middle Eastern restaurant.
Serve it as a appetizer or make a wrap. It can be served with a variety of sauces like Toum, Yogurt garlic sauce or Tahini sauce. I have shared the recipes of Yogurt garlic sauce & Tahini sauce below.
Making the garlic yogurt sauce. (Roughly adapted from food). This can be used as a dip or to spread on the wrap.
Add ¼ cup greek yogurt / hung curd, 1 tbsp minced garlic,salt, 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil and lemon juice (optional). Skip lemon if using sour yogurt. Mix everything well.
Making Tahini sauce
You will have to make tahini from here or use store bought. If buying from store, prefer the one that is packed in glass jars and is made from organic sesame.
Add ¾ cup tahini, 1/4 to 1/2 cup luke warm water, 2 large garlic cloves minced, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, salt only if needed to a processor and process until it turns light and creamy.
Next add 2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley to it. Tahini sauce is ready to use.
Spread the sauce generously on a pita bread. Will share the recipe of pita bread soon.
Then place lettuce, chicken shawarma, then grilled onions and tomatoes. You can also use any of your hot sauces.
Wrap and enjoy chicken shawarma rolls.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 250 grams chicken breast or thigh (half lb)
- 1 ½ garlic clove minced – about 1 large
- 1 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp cumin powder or jeera
- ½ tsp chilli powder or paprika
- ¼ tsp all spice
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
- Salt as needed
- 1/8 tsp crushed pepper
- 1 onion quartered layers separated
- 1 tomato quartered deseeded
- Cut chicken to small 1½ inch size pieces. Keep it aside.
- Mix all the ingredients for marinade. Add lemon juice only if needed. Taste the marinade and add more salt if needed.
- Marinate chicken with the mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 to 24 hours.
Grill in oven
- Preheat the oven to 200 C or 400 F for at least 15 mins.
- Prepare a grilling tray by spreading a foil and greasing it.
- Place the chicken over the tray along with onions and tomatoes. Space them apart.
- Grill for 15 to 20 mins depending on the size of the pieces. After 10 mins flip them to the other side.
- Move to the top rack and broil for 2 to 3 mins.
- Shred the chicken in the tray and serve.
How to make chicken shawarma on stove top
- Heat a pan with half tbsp olive oil on a high heat.
- When the pan is hot. Place the chicken and flip to cook on all the sides evenly.
- When the chicken is tender cooked, shred it on the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Cook further for 1 to 2 mins. Set this aside and use the same pan to grill quartered layered onions and deseeded tomatoes.
- Serve chicken shawarma as a appetizer with yogurt garlic sauce (recipe in step by step pics section).
making shawarma wrap/ roll
- Spread sauce on the pita bread, place lettuce and then chicken, grilled onions, tomatoes and roll it up.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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