Traditional Israeli Shawarma Recipe

What is Shawarma?

Shawarma is a popular street food in Israel that has gained international recognition for its unique blend of flavors and textures. It is basically a Middle Eastern version of the doner kebab, which is made by roasting meat on a vertical spit and shaving off thin slices as it cooks. The meat is typically seasoned with a blend of spices, such as cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and garlic powder, and served in a pita bread with a variety of sauces and toppings. In this article, we will be exploring the traditional Israeli shawarma recipe, which features succulent slices of chicken or lamb that are marinated in aromatic spices and served with a creamy yogurt or tahini sauce.

History of Shawarma

Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern dish that has become a staple around the world. The history of shawarma is an interesting one, with its origins tracing back to the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century.

Originally, shawarma was made with lamb that was marinated in a mixture of spices and slowly cooked on vertical spits. As it cooked, the meat would be sliced off in thin layers and served with flatbread and a range of sauces.

Over time, shawarma evolved into a popular street food that was enjoyed by people of all walks of life. The horizontal spit was introduced, creating a way to cook the meat more evenly and efficiently. This led to the increased availability of shawarma, which became a staple dish in many Middle Eastern countries.

Chicken shawarma is now widely available and has become a common meat option for those who prefer it over lamb. To make chicken shawarma, boneless chicken thighs or breast pieces are marinated in a mixture of spices such as turmeric, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, and salt, and then roasted in the oven or on a horizontal spit.

Shawarma is typically served in pita bread with a range of sauces, including tahini, garlic, and yogurt sauce. An Israeli salad, pickled onions, hot peppers, and mango sauce are also popular additions.

In summary, shawarma has a rich history that spans over 200 years. It has evolved into a popular street food that is enjoyed by people around the world. The dish initially consisted of lamb, but chicken has become a common option. Regardless of the meat choice, shawarma is a delicious way to enjoy a piece of Middle Eastern cuisine.


To make a delicious traditional Israeli shawarma, you will need a range of spices and sauces to create the perfect blend of flavors. Some of the key ingredients include chicken thighs or breast pieces, spices such as turmeric, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, ginger, and salt, pita bread, and a variety of sauces such as tahini, garlic, and yogurt sauce. Additionally, an Israeli salad, pickled onions, hot peppers, and mango sauce can be added to enhance the flavor and make the shawarma a complete meal.

Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts are a staple in many households and can make for a delicious and healthy meal. They are versatile, easy to cook, and can be seasoned in a variety of ways to suit different tastes. Whether you prefer grilling, baking, or frying, chicken breasts are a great choice for any day of the week.

One popular way to prepare chicken breasts is to make chicken shawarma, a Middle Eastern dish that has become a popular street food in many countries. The recipe typically involves marinating thin slices of chicken in a mixture of yogurt, lemon juice, and spices like cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon. Once marinated, the chicken is skewered and cooked on a vertical spit, where it is slowly roasted until it is tender and juicy.

Another way to cook chicken breasts is to bake them in the oven. For a simple yet delicious meal, you can season the chicken with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and then bake it in the oven at 375°F for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear. This method is particularly effective if you are meal prepping for the week, as you can cook a large batch of chicken and then portion it out for different meals.

If you prefer a spicier flavor, you can also try making hot wings with chicken breasts. To do this, you will need to cut the chicken into small pieces and season them with salt, garlic powder, and paprika. Then you can fry the chicken in hot oil until it is golden brown and crispy, before tossing it in your favorite hot sauce.

Whether you are in the mood for something spicy or mild, chicken breasts offer plenty of possibilities for a delicious and satisfying meal. So the next time you are in the kitchen, consider experimenting with different flavors and cooking methods to create a dish that your taste buds will love.

Lamb Fat

Lamb fat is a prized ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. It is loved for its rich flavor and is commonly used in dishes like shawarma, kebabs, and stews. The fat can be rendered and used for cooking, or it can be used in its solid form to add flavor to dishes.

One popular use of lamb fat is in making shawarma. The meat is thinly sliced and stacked in layers on a vertical spit, along with slices of lamb fat, spices, and sometimes vegetables. As the spit rotates, the lamb fat melts and infuses the meat with its delicious flavor. When the shawarma is ready, the outside is crispy and the inside is juicy and packed with flavor.

Lamb fat is also prized for its use in stews and casseroles. The rich, savory flavor of lamb fat adds depth and complexity to dishes like lamb tagine or moussaka. It can be used to brown meat, sauté vegetables, or as a base for a flavorful sauce or gravy.

Rendering lamb fat is a simple process that involves heating the fat in a pan over low heat until it melts and becomes liquid. The rendered fat can be stored in a jar and used for cooking later on. It can be used to enhance the flavor of roasted vegetables, baked goods, or even as a delicious spread on toast.

When purchasing lamb fat, it is important to choose high-quality, grass-fed lamb meat. This not only ensures that the fat is flavorful and healthy, but it also supports sustainable and humane farming practices.

In conclusion, lamb fat is a versatile and flavorful ingredient that is loved by many cultures around the world. Whether you are making shawarma, stew, or sautéed vegetables, lamb fat is sure to add depth and richness to your dishes. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with this delicious ingredient in your own cooking!

Dark Meat (chicken thighs)

Dark meat, specifically chicken thighs, often gets a bad reputation compared to the leaner breast meat. However, this underrated cut of chicken is packed with flavor, juiciness, and a variety of nutritional benefits.

One of the reasons chicken thighs are so flavorful is because of their higher fat content. Unlike chicken breasts, which can be bland and dry, chicken thighs have marbling throughout the meat that keeps it moist and tender, even when cooked at high temperatures. This makes them perfect for grilling, roasting, or frying without the risk of being overcooked and tough.

In addition to being flavorful, chicken thighs also offer a variety of nutritional benefits. They are a good source of protein, which is important for building and repairing muscles. Chicken thighs also contain important vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and selenium, which support a healthy immune system and help regulate hormones.

When it comes to cooking with chicken thighs, the possibilities are endless. They’re perfect for making chicken shawarma, a popular street food in Israel, or for seasoning with spices like black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric. They’re also great for making stews, curries, or soups as the bony parts add to the depth of flavors.

In terms of preparation, chicken thighs are versatile and can be cooked with or without the skin. Leaving the skin on can help lock in the flavor and moisture during cooking, but removing it can make for a healthier option. If you’re looking for a healthier preparation method, try cooking them with a dry rub for added flavor, or grill them and serve with a side of Israeli salad.

Overall, chicken thighs are a delicious and nutritious cut of meat that should not be overlooked. They’re easy to prepare and can be used in a variety of dishes, making them a great addition to any home cook’s arsenal. So next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up a pack of chicken thighs and give them a chance to shine in your next meal.

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs have become a popular option for those looking for a healthy and tasty meat option. Not only are they a lean source of protein, but they are also packed with nutrients that support overall health and wellbeing.

One of the great things about boneless, skinless chicken thighs is their versatility in the kitchen. They can be cooked in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, sautéing, and even in the slow cooker. This makes them a perfect option for meal planning and prepping, as they can be used in a range of different dishes and cuisines.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs also have a distinct and rich flavor that sets them apart from other types of chicken. They’re juicy, tender, and have a satisfying meatiness that is both savory and delicious.

In addition to being delicious, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are also a healthier option when compared to other cuts of chicken. They contain less fat than traditional chicken cuts like wings or drumsticks, yet still offer the same protein and nutrients that the body needs. They’re also a great source of essential vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, all of which support a healthy immune system and promote overall health.

Overall, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a fantastic option for those looking for a lean and tasty protein source that’s easy to prepare and versatile in the kitchen. Whether grilled, roasted, or sautéed, they’re a crowd-pleaser that will satisfy your taste buds and keep you feeling healthy and energized.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries. Known for its fruity flavor and distinct aroma, this oil is produced by pressing fresh olives without the use of chemicals or solvents.

One of the main benefits of virgin olive oil is its high concentration of monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to a range of health benefits, including improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and better insulin sensitivity. Additionally, this oil is a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin E and polyphenols, which can protect the body against oxidative damage and chronic disease.

Virgin olive oil is also a versatile ingredient in the kitchen, with a variety of culinary applications. Its fruity flavor makes it a perfect choice for dressings and marinades, while its high smoke point makes it ideal for sautéing, roasting, and frying. And, unlike other cooking oils, virgin olive oil is also delicious on its own, drizzled over fresh vegetables or a piece of crusty bread.

When purchasing virgin olive oil, it’s important to look for high-quality varieties that are labeled as “extra virgin” or “cold-pressed.” These oils have undergone minimal processing, which preserves their flavor and nutritional benefits. Additionally, opting for organic or locally-sourced oils can ensure that you’re getting a product that is free from harmful pesticides and additives.

Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting out in the kitchen, virgin olive oil is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can elevate any dish. So why not add a bottle to your pantry today and see what delicious recipes you can create?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, is a type of vinegar made from apples. It has been used for centuries for its numerous health benefits and medicinal purposes. ACV is made by fermenting apples in a two-step process. First, the apples are crushed and the juice is extracted. Then, bacteria and yeast are added to the juice to begin the fermentation process, which converts the sugar into alcohol. In the second step, the alcohol is further fermented into vinegar by acetic acid bacteria.

ACV is rich in acetic acid, which has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including aiding in digestion, lowering blood sugar levels, and reducing inflammation. In fact, studies have shown that consuming ACV before meals can lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and improve insulin sensitivity.

ACV is also a great source of antioxidants, which can help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants have been shown to have anti-cancer properties and may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Another popular use for ACV is as a natural remedy for acid reflux and heartburn. Its acidic properties help neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from symptoms. However, it is important to note that ACV should be used with caution, as excessive consumption can lead to negative effects on tooth enamel and digestive function.

When purchasing ACV, it is important to look for raw, unfiltered options that contain the “mother” – a cloudy, stringy substance that contains beneficial enzymes and bacteria. Many people enjoy mixing ACV with water or other beverages, such as tea or juice, to dilute the strong taste and make it easier to consume.

Overall, ACV is a powerful natural remedy that can provide numerous health benefits when consumed in moderation. Its versatility and popularity have led to a wide variety of ACV-based products, such as gummies and capsules, that can easily be incorporated into everyday life.

Cloves Garlic

Cloves Garlic – A Powerful Ingredient for Health and Flavor

Cloves garlic is a well-known and much-used ingredient in many dishes all over the world. It is a small, bulbous plant in the Allium family that originated in Central Asia and is now widely cultivated globally. Garlic is not only used for its unique flavor but also for its numerous health benefits.

For centuries, cloves garlic has been used in herbal medicine to treat a variety of illnesses, including respiratory illnesses, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Scientific research has shown that garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help boost the immune system and fight off infections.

Furthermore, in recent years, garlic has been highlighted for its potential in reducing the risk of developing certain cancers, including stomach and colon cancer. This is due to its high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds that have been shown to have cancer-fighting properties.

Garlic also has powerful antioxidant properties that help protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, which is a contributing factor to several chronic diseases. This potent ingredient is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese, making it an excellent addition to our diets.

In cooking, cloves garlic is incredibly versatile and can add a unique, pungent flavor to any dish. Whether roasted, sautéed, or minced, garlic can elevate the taste of soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. It is not surprising that garlic has been used in traditional dishes such as Israeli shawarma recipes for generations.

When selecting garlic, it is best to choose bulbs that are firm and free of any blemishes. To increase its health benefits, allow the garlic to sit after crushing or chopping it, as this will activate the allicin compound, which can create a more potent anti-inflammatory effect.

In conclusion, cloves garlic is a potent ingredient that adds a unique flavor to dishes while also improving our health and wellbeing. Whether used in traditional cooking or modern cuisine, this versatile ingredient is a must-have in every kitchen.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most popular spices worldwide, and it has been used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal purposes. This spice is made from the dried, unripe fruit of the Piper nigrum plant, which is native to India and cultivated in other tropical regions.

Apart from its distinctive flavor and aroma, black pepper contains numerous active compounds that make it beneficial for our health. One of the most notable compounds in black pepper is called piperine, which is responsible for its pungent taste and also has potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Piperine has been shown to boost the absorption and bioavailability of other nutrients, such as curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, and several vitamins and minerals. This means that adding black pepper to your meals can increase the nutrient uptake in your body and maximize their health benefits.

Black pepper is also rich in antioxidants, which protect our cells from oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Studies have suggested that consuming black pepper regularly may reduce our risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

In traditional medicine, black pepper has been used to treat a variety of ailments, such as digestive issues, respiratory infections, and joint pain. It is believed that the piperine in black pepper can increase digestive enzymes and help improve gut health.

When it comes to cooking, black pepper is a versatile spice that can enhance the flavor of various dishes, from soups and stews to meat and seafood. It can be used ground or whole, and its intensity can vary depending on the amount used and the cooking method.

To enjoy the health benefits of black pepper, choose high-quality whole peppercorns, and grind them just before using to maximize their flavor and aroma. Adding black pepper to your meals is a simple and delicious way to boost your health and add a unique zing to your favorite dishes.

Teaspoon Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that has been used for centuries in Indian and Chinese medicine, and it is well-known for its bright yellow colour and distinctive flavour. One teaspoon of turmeric can add a lot of flavour to your dishes and also has a number of potential health benefits.

The active ingredient in turmeric is a compound called curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies have suggested that curcumin can help reduce inflammation in the body and may be beneficial for those with conditions such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Turmeric has also been linked to potential benefits for brain function. Some studies have suggested that curcumin may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Adding a teaspoon of turmeric to your meals can be a great way to introduce this powerful spice into your diet. It can be used in a variety of dishes, including curries, soups, and stews. Turmeric can also be added to smoothies or baked goods for an added punch of flavour and potential health benefits.

It is important to note that turmeric should not be consumed in excessive amounts, as it can have blood-thinning properties. As with any new food or supplement, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet.

Overall, incorporating a teaspoon of turmeric into your meals can be a delicious and healthy way to add some spice and potential health benefits to your diet.

Teaspoon Cumin

Cumin is a popular spice that is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Indian, and Mexican cuisine. It is made from the seeds of the cumin plant and has a warm, earthy flavor with a slightly bitter undertone. One teaspoon of cumin can add a depth of flavor to any dish.

Cumin is not only a delicious spice but also contains several health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Cumin also contains iron, which is essential for the production of red blood cells and helps to transport oxygen throughout the body.

In addition to these benefits, cumin has been linked to potential digestive benefits as well. Studies have suggested that cumin can help improve digestion, reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and even improve cholesterol levels.

One easy way to incorporate cumin into your diet is by adding it to your favorite dishes. It pairs well with roasted vegetables, meats, and soups. You can also add it to homemade salad dressings for an extra zing. One popular dish that features cumin is chicken shawarma, a traditional Israeli street food that is spiced with cumin, cinnamon, and other spices.

It’s important to note that cumin should be used in moderation, as high doses can cause digestive discomfort. One teaspoon of cumin is a good starting point for most recipes. As with any new food or supplement, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet.

Teaspoon Salt

Salt is an essential ingredient in many recipes, including the traditional Israeli shawarma recipe. It not only enhances the flavor but also helps to bring out the natural flavors of the other ingredients. While it’s important to use the right amount of salt in your dish, it’s equally important to understand how much salt is needed to properly season your recipe.

One teaspoon of salt is equivalent to approximately 6 grams of table salt. This may not sound like a lot of salt, but it can significantly impact the flavor of your dish. It’s important to remember that a little salt goes a long way and it’s always better to start with less salt and add more later, as needed.

When seasoning your chicken pieces for the shawarma recipe, it’s recommended to use 1 teaspoon of salt, along with other spices like cumin, cinnamon, and garlic powder. However, if you’re concerned about your sodium intake or prefer a less salty taste, you could reduce the amount of salt to ½ teaspoon or even skip it altogether.

It’s also important to consider the type of salt you’re using in your recipe. While table salt is the most common type of salt used in cooking, there are other options like sea salt, kosher salt, and Himalayan salt that can provide different flavors and textures. Sea salt, for example, has a slightly briny taste and larger crystals, which can add a nice crunch to your dish. Kosher salt, on the other hand, has a more coarse texture and is often used in koshering meat.

In summary, when it comes to salt in your cooking, the key is to use it in moderation and with intention. Understanding how much salt is needed for each recipe and experimenting with different types of salt can help you create delicious and perfectly seasoned dishes, like the traditional Israeli shawarma.

Hot Sauce (optional)

Hot sauce is a popular condiment that adds flavor and heat to a variety of dishes. Made from peppers, vinegar, and other spices, hot sauce can range in heat level from mild to extremely hot, satisfying everyone’s spicy preferences.

There are many different types of hot sauces, including traditional styles like Louisiana-style hot sauce and Tabasco sauce, as well as newer varieties like ghost pepper hot sauce and sriracha sauce. Many people enjoy experimenting with different types of hot sauces to find their favorite flavor and heat level.

Hot sauce can be used in a variety of ways, from adding a kick to scrambled eggs for breakfast, to using it as a condiment on sandwiches and tacos, to spicing up homemade marinades and sauces. It can even be added to cocktails for a unique twist on classic drinks.

When choosing a hot sauce, it’s important to consider the heat level and ingredients. Some hot sauces may contain additives like sugar or preservatives, while others may be made from all-natural ingredients. Reading the label and doing research can help you choose a hot sauce that meets your dietary needs and preferences.

Overall, hot sauce is a versatile and delicious condiment that can add excitement to any meal. Whether you prefer a mild kick or a fiery blast of heat, there is a hot sauce out there for everyone to enjoy.

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