Shawarma rotisserie, Istanbul, Turkey
Doner kebab, Istanbul, Turkey

Shawarma is a Middle Eastern[1][2] sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats. The meat is placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day. Shawarma is a fast-food staple across the Middle East, Europe and the Caucasus.

Shawarma is eaten with pita bread, lavash, tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba.

Shawarma has many variants in preparation, serving style, and name. The word shawarma (play /ʃəˈwɑːrmə/) comes from the Turkish word çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning', though the dish is usually called döner kebab 'turning kebab' in Turkish. In Greek, it was formerly called ντονέρ /doˈner/, and now called gyros 'turned'; in Armenian, it is "tarna", literally meaning "to turn".



Shawarma is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat (beef, lamb or marinated chicken) on a stick—an onion or tomato is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for additional flavoring. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours (see rotisserie). Traditionally a wood fire was used; currently, a gas flame is common. While specialty restaurants might offer two or more meat selections, some establishments have just one skewer.

While cooking, the meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife, an electric knife or a small circular saw, dropping to a circular tray below to be retrieved. Shawarma is eaten as a fast food, made up into a sandwich wrap with pita bread or rolled up in an Armenian Lavash flatbread together with vegetables and dressing. A variety of vegetables come with the shawarma which include: cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, and cabbage. You have the option to get French fries in some countries including: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, also countries in Europe such as Romania, Germany, Bulgaria and even the U.K.[3] Other options include thick cut French fries served inside the lavash to help soak up the sauce and juices keeping them inside the wrap.[4]

Dressings include: tahini (or tahina), Amba sauce (pickled mango with Chilbeh), hummus, or flavored with vinegar and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Chicken shawarma is served with garlic mayonnaise, toum (garlic sauce), pomegranate concentrate, or skhug (a hot chili sauce). Once the shawarma is made, it might be dipped in the fat dripping from the skewer and then briefly seared against the flame.

Beef can be used for shawarma instead of lamb, and turkey is used instead of chicken. In Saudi Arabia, goat is as common as beef or lamb. Less common alternatives include fish and sausage. Some shawarma stores use hot dog buns or baguettes, but most have pita and lavash. Sometimes, beef shawarma—despite its name—contains some lamb in addition to the beef, to ensure juiciness.


Shawarma in the UAE
  • In Australia, Greek, Armenian, Turkish and Lebanese migrant populations have introduced shawarma. Commonly it is known simply as in Armenian kebab or in Turkish Doner kebab or, where Greek immigrants have settled, as a souvlaki, or less commonly, gyros or yiros. Shawarma costs A$6.00 upwards and is wrapped in a large pita bread or more commonly khubz, known locally as "Lebanese bread", coming with beef, chicken or lamb, salad of lettuce, tomato and onion and cheese. Sauces include "garlic sauce" (Tzatziki), chilli sauce, hummus, tomato, and barbecue. Sometimes it is toasted after being wrapped in the bread.
  • In Armenia Ġarsi khorovats, šaurma or in the Armenian diaspora, "Tarna" (literally, "it turns"); it is usually lamb, pork or chicken on a vertical rotisserie, sliced and wrapped in Armenian flatbread called Lavash, served with tahini, yogurt or garlic sauce and enjoyed with a savory side of Armenian pickled vegetables called "Tourshi."
  • In Azerbaijan shawarma is called Shaurma (Aze:Şaurma) or Doner (Aze:Dönər). Shaurma is made with chicken and always include garlic sauce. While doner can be made with either chicken or beef, and doesn't include garlic sauce. Both can be served in bread, lavash or in plate. Doner also can be served in tandoor bread.
  • In Bangladesh shawarma along with Doner Kebab is getting popular mainly as fast food item in Dhaka and to a lesser extent in Chittagong. Initially, fast food shops like Shawarma House and Arabian Fast Food added shawarma in their menu. These days, however, they are becoming common in many fast food shops and restaurants.
  • In Belgium a very large, filling shawarma is available. It is made with a combination of lamb and beef, although pork is not uncommon, and placed in a freshly baked pita, garnished with salad and zesty white garlic sauce or a spicy red sauce.
  • In Brazil, mainly in São Paulo, shawarma is a street food, served with bread and a cup of juice. There it is called Churrasquinho Grego (Greek Steak) or much less frequently Churrasco Turco (Turkish Steak). It is not associated with the kebab/gyro in fashion districts. It is served in Porto Alegre, Foz do Iguaçu where it is sold as Arabic fast-food.
  • In Bulgaria, shawarma is known as "Duner".
  • In Canada, the cuisine is typically available in any population centre that has recent immigrants. Due to meat handling regulations, shawarma is never available at street food stands (unlike hotdogs) and is mostly associated with food courts or pizzeria-style small restaurants. Typically, shawarma is available both as a wrap with traditional vegetables, hummus and hot and garlic sauce, or as a "plate" or "dinner" on a bed of rice with a side of vegetables and salad; the salad can be Middle Eastern, like tabbouleh, or of a more traditional variety, like Greek or Caesar. The dish is not associated with any country in particular and can be branded and served by a variety of nationals, from Algeria to Afghanistan. Shawarma is being successfully introduced as a fast food franchise by a number of companies and may not be necessarily associated with Arabian population - or mom-and-pop businesses - anymore.
In some regions of Canada, the term "shawarma" is interchangeable with donairs. In the Montreal region, chicken "shawarma" is often confused with chicken kebabs, known as "Shish taouk".
  • In Costa Rica, shawarmas have become popular thanks to a small restaurant in the entrance to Heredia owned by lebanese immigrants, with a price around $4.
  • In the numerous Middle Eastern restaurants in Barranquilla with a large Arab population, shawarma is a light meal: other main courses have heartier portions.
  • Shawarma was introduced in 1981 in Denmark by Turkish migrant workers, and has become a staple. Shawarma is served with julienned salad, (onion, tomatoes, cucumber), lettuce, sour cream dressing and chilli oil in either a pita bread, rolled in a flat bread (dürüm) or served on pizza.
  • In Ecuador, shawarma is a popular snack or light meal with vendors found all over the main metropolitan areas specially Urdesa, Guayaquil and La Mariscal, Quito. They were introduced by the Middle Eastern immigrant population.
  • In Egypt, Shawarma -pronounced "Shawerma"- is one of the most popular street foods. There are many famous Egyptian restaurants and street stands alike offering different combinations of Shawarma. Shawarma is often served in small buns as an affordable small meal, with much less vegetable portions (mostly heavily grilled tomatoes and onions) and much more beef. Egyptian hummus -known as Tahina- is a lot thinner, and used almost exclusively for the beef variety, whereas "chicken shawarma" is often served with Garlic sauce. Shawarma could also be served as a topping for seasoned rice and grilled veggies, to be known as "Shawarma Fettah". Shawarma Fettah is often served with a much thicker, creamy garlic sauce topping. Shawarma has also been offered as stuffing for Egyptian Pies, also known as "Feteer".
  • In France, shawarma (or chawarma) is served in Arab and Israeli restaurants, although they are not considered to be the real shawarma by the North African and Middle Eastern population. The same item can be bought from ubiquitous fast food vendors under the name sandwich grec, sandwich Turc, or kebab. In some suburban quarters of Paris, the "Remi" special shawarma has a religious like following because of its original pomegranate (grenade) sauce. Although the name may imply a Greek origin, the shawarma is not a Greek gyros. As a fast food item, it is frequently served with french fries (in the wrap, not on the side) and garnished with a yogurt sauce (sauce blanche) and/or harissa, or a number of other sauces. Doner kebab or sandwich kebab is also ubiquitous at Algerian (or North African) and Turkish owned fast food places. The specifically Tunisian touch is the optional harissa.
  • in Georgia, shawarma, known as shaurma has become a very popular street food.
  • In Germany, doner kebab, a dish similar to what is sold as "Shawarma" elsewhere, is a very popular take-away food. It is served either in a pita bread, rolled in a flat bread (dürüm) or on a plate with side dishes. "Shawarma" is rather seen sparsely. In Germany, it is often referred to as "Schawarma".
  • In Greece, owing to its similarities with Middle Eastern cuisine, shawarma (under the name gyros) is one of the country's most popular sandwiches.
  • Shawarma found its way to India in the 1980s with non-resident Indians working in Persian Gulf countries. Sometimes Paratha, an Indian flatbread originating in northern India but now eaten everywhere, is used instead of pita.
  • In Israel, shawarma Hebrew: שווארמה‎) is a street food and offered in meat restaurants. Introduced by Mizrachi Jews and Arab citizens of Israel, the dish has become ubiquitous.[5] It was most commonly made of lamb in the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, a switch was made in favor of turkey or chicken. After 2000, lamb/veal mix began to appear, though turkey shawarma remains the most common by far. Often the rotating skewer is placed at the front of the fast-food stand, exposed to the street. Shawarma is served in a pita or a lafa and is usually eaten with salad, hummus or french fries. In Jerusalem, the lafa is called 'esh tanur'. One of the condiments in demand is Amba.[6][7]
  • In Lebanon, along with falafel, shawarma is the most popular street food.
  • In Libya, shawarma (meat and chicken) is the most popular street food, & the price range from 1.25 US$ to 2 US$
  • In Puebla, Mexico, shawarma was introduced by the numerous Middle-Eastern immigrants, mostly from Lebanon and Syria, but also Turkey and Iraq, in the early 1920s.[8] Since then, it has become a traditional dish of the city, locally known as taco árabe, "Arabian taco", sold in taquerías orientales, "[Middle-]Eastern taco stands".[9] Nonetheless, it is now usually made with pork and served either in pitas –locally called pan árabe, "Arabian bread"–, leavened bread –locally called torta árabe, "Arabian baguette", also called cemita–, or simply in flour tortillas. It is usually accompanied tahini and labneh –locally called jocoque[10] even though the skhug (or kharif) has been replaced with a thick chipotle-garlic sauce.[11] In other parts of the country, most notably in Mexico City, the dish has adapted to the Mexican cuisine by replacing the pita with corn tortillas, in what is now called a taco al pastor, "Shepherd taco".[11] Unlike a taco árabe, the taco al pastor is served with pineapple, cilantro, chopped onions and green or red salsa, and marinated with annatto sauce. Regardless of local adaptations, authentic middle eastern shawarma is available in the many middle eastern restaurants and kosher taquerias that cater to the large Mexican Lebanese and Mexican Sephardim communities.
  • In the Netherlands, shawarma (shoarma) is a popular meal. Here it is served as pork, spiced lamb, chicken or rarely beef combined with salad and garlic sauce. It is generally served inside a small circular pitã bread, which is cut open upon which the meat and salad is placed inside. It can be bought from many places. Shoarma in the Netherlands is generally first spit roasted and after carving off s then grilled or fried, or a combination of both.
  • In Pakistan, Shawarma has become a favourite snack of the locals, available as a road-side snack for many years, due to it being brought back by non-resident Pakistanis who worked in the Persian Gulf states. Locals usually prefer to eat Shawarma with fizzy drinks. It is available in all small and major cities like Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Faisalabad , Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan and Quetta.
  • Shawarma is known in Paraguay as a popular fast-food and it's called lomito árabe (Arabian steak), there are more than two chains fast-food restaurants that sells them as the main product with other typical middle-east food.
One of the many shawarma stalls in University of the Philippines Diliman during the University's Christmas Lantern Parade
A shawarma ad in Russian and Arabic, Moscow
Shawarma sandwich
  • In the Philippines, shawarma is a popular food found at both street side and indoor shopping mall stalls, mostly in Metro Manila and other major cities, such as Cebu City and Bacolod City. Shawarma is often cooked using beef in a large pita bread, and served with vegetables such as onion and tomatoes. The shawarma wrap can usually be topped with locally made Cheddar cheese for a few Philippine pesos. Its popularity began during the 1980s, but has long passed being a fad. At present, "Shawarma Rice" is gaining popularity with younger diners. It consists of the same ingredients as regular shawarma, with the exception of the bread, which is replaced with fried or seasoned rice.
  • In Poland, kebab is a very popular street food, and is easily found on most blocks in Polish cities. Both chicken and lamb are commonly available. The fixings are typically Polish: white and red cabbage, pickled vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes. A sauce like tzatziki sauce is available, as well as spicy sauces. Kebab shops often offer versions with cheese, vegetarian versions, and extra-large versions. Although some kebab shops are operated by people of Turkish or Middle Eastern descent (judging by bi-lingual signage and other Middle Eastern dishes available), most are operated by Poles.
  • In Romania, shawarma (şaorma or shaorma) is made with lamb, beef or chicken and served in a lavash or pita bread stuffed with french fries, pickles, fried or fresh onion, tomatoes, cabbage and sometimes gherkins. The most common dressings are a combination of spicy garlic sauces, spicy red sauces (containing hot peppers, tomatoes and aromatic herbs), mayonnaise and ketchup (or, possibly, other sweet red sauces containing tomatoes and/or vinegar and sugar). Shawarma shops also sell Döner Kebabs, falafels, lemonade, ayran and kefir.
  • In Western Russia, shawarma (Russian: шаурма or шаверма) is called "shaurma", while in St. Petersburg it is "shaverma". It is eaten with a variety of julienned vegetables (usually tomatoes, cucumbers and onions), tomato sauce, and garlic sauce, and wrapped in lavash. Russian-style shawarma is similar to doner kebab made of chicken, beef or pork.
  • In Saudi Arabia, shawarma is very popular snack among Saudi and Arab population and also among foreigners. There are three different styles of doing shawarma in Saudi Arabia: Lebanese, Turkish, and Yemeni style. Lebanese is the most popular style and it is usually comes in shami/lebanese bread aka "pita". The toppings for the chicken shawarma are limited to garlic sauce, fries, and pickles. On the other hand, the toppings for the beef shawarma are tahina (tahini) sauce, parsley, and pickles. The bread size is usually small so it's common that people order two to three shawarmas. The Yemeni style which only can be found in Jeddah comes in a samoli bread aka "submarine bread". The chicken shawarma is prepared in the same way as other styles but the beef shawarma is prepared in a special way. Just before the shawarma is given to the customer, the shawarma is marinated in a special secret sauce. The last style is The Turkish style is found in the Turkish restaurants and it is quite similar to the Lebanese style. The shawarma price is usually between 3 SR to 6 SR (between 1 USD to 2 USD) t. It's interesting to note that in Saudi Arabia you can rarely find a shawarma joint that is open during day time; shawarma is more of a night food. Most famous spots of shawarma are: Al-Rimal hotel, Shawarmatak, Yaldezlar, and Al-zawaqa and they are all in Jeddah. In Riyadh there is a famous sandwich joint called Mama Noura.
  • In Senegal, shawarma is typical first date food among Senegalese youth.
  • In South Africa, Anat[12] and Mivami[13] chains of shawarma restaurants are found all over the region. Here shawarma is made with beef, chicken, turkey, or often a combination in a soft pita. Most shawarmas come with hummus, tahina sauce, tzatziki (garlic sauce), chili flavoring, vegetables, barbecue and other sauces.
  • In Spain is a fast food offering particularly popular with lunchtime and late-night crowds.
  • In Suriname,a local fast food chain called 'Wolly's' has a signature dish called 'patat shoarma' which consists of french fries, shoarma chicken covered with Indonesian peanut sauce, ketchup and garlic sauce.
  • In Switzerland, similar to Germany, shawarma is surpassed in popularity by doner kebab. Döner stands are very common around areas with large Turkish immigrant populations in most major cities, such as Basel and Zurich.
  • In Syria it is a very popular, filling snack that is widespread in all of the country. Along with Falafel, Shawarma is the most popular street food. Damascus, which contains some of the oldest Shawarma eateries in the region is particularly renowned for its Shawarma and is widely considered the point from which this specialty spread to other parts of the Middle East and the world. The shawarma sandwich is often toasted and in some few cases then cut into small pieces which can then be served on a plate and dipped in garlic sauce. The addition of Pomegranate sauce to the sandwich is one of the distinguishing qualities of Syrian shawarma.
  • In Taiwan, shawarma (Mandarin Chinese: 沙威馬 shāwēimǎ) is usually made from chicken and is served on a leavened, white flour bun with julienned cabbage, a slice of tomato, sliced onions, ketchup, and mayonnaise. It is often sold in night markets in Taiwan. Additionally, a chain called JS Donair Kebab has begun operating as a fast food chain in several department store food courts. This is a more traditional kebab served with lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables. In addition, served on a dish with rice."
  • In Tunisia, shawarma is a very popular imported dish. There are different fast foods which propose to serve the Tunisian maqloub which is a local version of the shawarma. In that one, the Tunisians add the different species and sauces. The only difference is in the spices and techniques used, which are jealously held secret by every chef. The meat (chicken, lamb, turkey or beef) is served inside the typical Tunisian bread (called "tabuna") or inside the more middle-eastern pita-like bread, together with a wide variety of flavors and some vegetables: garlic sauce, chick-pea sauce, local meshuya (a salad made out of grilled capsicum, tomatoes and garlic), cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and fried chips. Each customer chooses his own flavors when ordering his shawarma. The shawarma or maqloub must be garnished with the Tunisian pepper puree called harissa or mayonnaise.
  • In Ukraine shawarma became a popular street food in most large cities in just a few years since beginning of 21st century, while was almost completely unknown until then. In Ukraine this food is called "shaurma."
Nigerian chicken Shawarma. Different from the Arab recipes, it's served mainly in Nigerian restaurants, cafeterias and cinemas.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, shawarma is quite popular. This is due to the relatively low price, the ease in which a shawarma is prepared, as well as its taste being appealing to many of the UAE's residents. Most local cafeteria offer shawarma (mostly chicken) for a price range between AED 4 and can go up to AED8. Some restaurants offer a larger size shawarma which usually serves as a lunch meal along with some drink. Arabic bread is mostly used.
  • In the United Kingdom, shawarma consists of slices of skewered meat which are served in a pita with salad, pickles[14] and tahina. The original shawarma take-aways first appeared in Piccadilly Circus in the early 1970s, catering mainly to tourists and Arab expatriates, but quickly spread to other parts of the U.K. However, the doner kebab is more widespread in the UK.
  • In the United States, shawarma is usually found in regions and localities that host a concentration of Arab or Jewish population.[citation needed]
  • In Venezuela, shawarma is commonly seen on the streets of major cities at food business stands. Shawarma carts have become as popular in Venezuela at food business stands as the common empanada. The same stands that sell chawarmas sell the vegetarian falafel as well.
  • In West Africa, shawarma was introduced by Middle Eastern migrants (spelled chawarma in Francophone countries) and is a popular street food. In Nigeria, shawarma is usually served in Lebanese restaurants, and they are a popular delicacy among Arabs, Nigerians and Indians. If prepared by Nigerians, they consist mainly of beef, or chicken, cabbage, tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and chili, differentiating them from those of the Arab-based recipes.

See also


  1. ^ Philip Mattar (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa (Hardcover ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. p. 840. ISBN 0028657713. 
  2. ^ John A La Boone III (2006). Around the World of Food: Adventures in Culinary History (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc.. p. 115. ISBN 0595389686. 
  3. ^, Beirut street food in London
  4. ^, item descriptions
  5. ^ Dr Shakshuka, famous for his eponymous dish, has turned his talents to a staple Israeli takeaway, retrieved March 23, 2010.
  6. ^ Tel Aviv-Yafo Travel Guide Virtual Tourist, Retrieved January 16, 2007.
  7. ^ Israeli Street Foods Israel Travel Tips, Retrieved January 16, 2007.
  8. ^ Tacos!, Retrieved January 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Antigua Taquería la Oriental Retrieved July 12, 2007
  10. ^ El Jocoque: Un lácteo fermentado Revalorizable. Retrieved July 12, 2007
  11. ^ a b Wrap it Up: A Guide to Mexican Cuisine
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Ranoush, The Hot Spot Online. Retrieved January 16, 2007

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  • Shawarma — Cocinero cortando láminas de carne para un shawarma. El shāwarmā (del árabe شاورما) o döner kebab (en turco) o gyros (en griego), es un plato originario del Medio Oriente que consiste en finas láminas de carne de cordero, pollo o ternera asada en …   Wikipedia Español

  • Shawarma — Kebab Un kebab avec du pain pita …   Wikipédia en Français

  • shawarma — /ʃəˈwɔmə/ (say shuh wawmuh) noun 1. a form of meat preparation where pieces of meat such as lamb, chicken, beef, etc., are placed on a vertical rotating spit and slowly grilled, pieces of meat being shaved off and served, usually in pita bread… …  

  • shawarma — sha|war|ma sb., en, er, erne (en mellemøstlig madret), i sms. shawarma , fx shawarmabar …   Dansk ordbog

  • shawarma — noun A Middle Eastern sandwich like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or a mixture thereof …   Wiktionary

  • shawarma — (voz procedente del árabe) ► masculino Carne sazonada, generalmente de cordero, que se asa en un eje vertical que gira sobre sí mismo y se sirve cortada a tiras, a menudo dentro de un pan de pita. ► por extensión Bocadillo hecho con esta carne …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • shawarma — n. shwarma, pita sandwich of spiced roasted lamb (popular in the Middle East) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • shawarma — [[t]ʃəˈwɑr mə[/t]] n. a Middle Eastern dish made of sliced grilled lamb, goat, chicken, or a mixture of meats, typically served with pita and topped with salad vegetables, tabbouleh, and hummus. • Etymology: [1950 55] …   From formal English to slang

  • shawarma —  n.m. Pain fourré oriental …   Le dictionnaire des mots absents des autres dictionnaires

  • shawarma — …   Useful english dictionary

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