What comes to my mind when I think of chicken shawarma is one of the finest shawarma sandwiches ever made!
The chicken, the spices, the tomato, cucumber, bread, the yogurt sauce, a huge combination of yumminess if I can put it that way.
A relative newcomer to the shawarma scene, chicken has been a huge hit, and is loved prepared this way the world over.
Billed as the healthier option, chicken shawarma is a great excuse for night out with fewer calories, that is still full of flavor.
What is Chicken Shawarma?
Chicken shawarma is a street food extraordinaire found in the Middle Eastern countries of the Levant.
Like so many grilled meat dishes, shawarma originated from the Ottoman Empire, which is present day Turkey.
In fact, the word shawarma is derived from a Turkish word meaning to turn which refers to how the meat is cooked on a spit.
Slices of marinated chicken breasts, and boneless skinless chicken thighs are placed on a vertical spit.
The spit is then rotated in front of a hot flame which cooks the chicken slowly.
Chicken pieces are thinly sliced into a small bowl, and these pieces are often put into a sandwich.
The accompaniments are many, from garlic sauce, to yogurt sauce, and sometimes even tahini sauce.
Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, hot sauce or red pepper flakes can all be part of this sandwich, added for extra flavor.
But don’t let tradition rule your sandwich experience; cross the boundaries and try new fillings!
How to Make Chicken Shawarma
Most of us won’t have the traditional shawarma spit for making this dish the traditional way.
So the best way forward is to follow the directions below.
Mix the spice marinade in a large bowl, dip whole chicken breasts in the bowl coating them completely.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to marinate a bit longer (optional).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Add the chicken to a baking dish along with any extra marinade; turn the temperature down to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, to make this easy recipe.
Remove the cooked chicken from the baking sheet or dish (reserving the juices), and slice into small pieces.
Put the sliced chicken back in the dish with the liquid from baking, stir, coating the chicken as much as possible.
This will help make your shawarma extra juicy, moist and tasty.
What Are the Spices Involved?
There are lots of warm spices that come together for this mouthwatering chicken shawarma recipe.
Cinnamon with its warm, sweet woody flavor.
Cumin with its additional earthy depth with a hint of citrus, providing loads of depth.
Coriander brings its floral composition along with being slightly sweet, and tart at the same time.
My favorite spice in this mix has to be the cardamom with its complex, and irresistible flavor of fruit, pine and hint of menthol.
Paprika is mild with a hint of sweetness to mellow out the overall flavor.
Black pepper is the opposite of the paprika in many ways, with a bit of a bite; woody, piney and a sharp taste palate.
Turmeric brings a huge bold flavor that is earthy, musky, and a bit bitter to round things out.
Cayenne Pepper provides a spicy element that gives the dish a wider scope of flavor which I enjoy.
For those not so interested in spicy flavors, just leave out the cayenne.
An Alternative Method
A different way to go about making this lovely dish is to use precooked chicken.
When using this method I will take a whole chicken, roast it in a Dutch oven in the oven.
This way the chicken will be cooked so that the meat is coming off the bones.
Once done remove all the meat from the bones, and don’t forget to save the bones for soup!
Mix all the spices with the oil and lemon juice, then saturate the meat with the marinade and let them steep for a good hour.
Once ready to eat, reheat with as much marinade as possible, serve hot, either on a plate or in a sandwich.
Why Chicken Instead of Beef or Lamb?
Personally I love the taste of the chicken along with the more subtle spicing, as opposed to the red meat options.
However, like so many things the pocketbook will dictate the outcome on occasion.
Chicken is a cheaper alternative than lamb, or beef, providing a nutritious lunch for less money.
Flavor is definitely a good reason of course, and many people prefer the nutritional information chicken has on offer.
Chicken is lower in calories than beef or lamb, and a good choice for people watching their weight.
For those people watching their cholesterol, chicken is also a better option with a healthier profile.
Lower in fat, higher in nutrients, and protein, chicken will give you a good return on calories.
How to Best Serve Chicken Shawarma
Traditionally any kind of shawarma, like doner kebab, and gyros are meant to be served in sandwich form.
Sliced right off the vertical spit, the pieces of chicken are often caught in the pocket of a pita.
However, that being said, it is perfectly alright to serve shawarma on a plate alongside various other things.
Rice and vegetables come to mind as a hearty, wholesome, and healthy meal.
Mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and even mac and cheese are great accompaniments.
I love my chicken shawarma in a homemade taboon bread sandwich, with french fries, and toum (garlic sauce) on the side.
Chicken Shawarma Recipe
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Cardamom
- 1 tsp Coriander
- ¼ tsp Paprika
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- ¾ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 lb Chicken Breast
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Mix all the spices in a large bowl.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil.
- Add the chicken and cover completely with the spice mixture.
- Place the spiced chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish.
- Pour any remaining spice mix over the chicken breasts.
- Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove and slice the breasts into thin slices.
- Mix the chicken slices with the liquid from the baking dish and serve.