After eyeing a beautiful, drool-worthy photo of lamb shawarma on a blog one day, shown below, I so wanted to make it, except for the fact that my husband won’t eat lamb.
So I searched the same blog, Recipe Tin Eats, for chicken shawarma and found a recipe I knew we’d both love.
It is Nagi’s recipe, who lives in Sydney, Australia, although she was born in Japan. I’ve enjoyed her blog for a few years now; her recipes are always fresh and innovative. Nagi also has the cutest dog, Dozer, who makes his appearance in every blog post.
Shawarma is Middle Eastern in origin, and refers to beef, lamb, chicken, or veal, grilled on a vertical spit that rotates.
If you’ve ever been to a döner kebob spot, you’re familiar with a close shawarma cousin. Similarly, the meat is sliced and placed on flatbread, sometimes offered with cucumber and tomato, or even hummus.
Except that shawarma is more about this luscious, spicy marinade that coats the raw meat and crusts up when the meat is grilled.
Why I never made any kind of shawarma at home before now is beyond me.
Slightly adapted from Recipe Tin Eats
2 pounds chicken thighs (I used breasts)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons smoky paprika
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
Slice the chicken into uniformly-thick pieces and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir well. Yes, I’ve never used a tablespoon of ground cardamom in a dish before either, but don’t hesitate. Use it!
Add the chicken and make sure all of the pieces are coated. Place the chicken and marinade in a large zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days.
Ideally the chicken should be grilled outside on a barbecue, but on this day I used my indoor stove-top grill.
Bring the chicken to close to room temperature. Grill the chicken until just done; you don’t want the meat dry, especially if you’re also using chicken breasts.
To serve, set out the platter of grilled chicken, flatbreads, hummus, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers.
You don’t have to add all of the “goodies,” but I do!
I made a parsley-laden tabbouleh, and also served a “salad” of tomatoes and cucumbers.
Nagi included a yogurt sauce on her same blog post for chicken shawarma, and I preferred it over the hummus.
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Squeeze of lemon
Whisk together the yogurt with the garlic, cumin, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.
I even made a quick pickled radish condiment for the shawarma, but it wasn’t really necessary.
For this feast, I had to share with friends, so I served all of the dishes buffet-style, and friends created their own shawarma. It’s so similar to serving fajitas!
Everyone had a good time. I served a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir which went perfectly with the chicken and other Middle Eastern flavors.
Guess what we’re having for supper tomorrow!! Great recipe.
Thank you Orna! Wish I could visit you both in your beautiful home.
This looks and sounds wonderful, Mimi. Just the kind of food I love! :)
Don’t hesitate about all of that cardamom- it works!!!
Mimi, this post is both fascinating and delicious! TGIF hugs!
Thanks Teagan. I love your blog, I just don’t read much any more. Shameful, really.
Looks absolutely amazing! Definitely one of our favorites here. Bring on the cardamom. :)
I thought it was a typo at first – I never seen that much. But I followed her recipe, and it’s outstanding.
This looks lovely – it reminds me a bit of Greek gyro, only the marinade is a bit more med-style ;) – loving the yogurt dip too!
You’re exactly right. Gyro, fajitas, falafels – all the fun stuff you get to put in breads and add sauces and other goodies to! The yogurt sauce is really good.
What a perfect summer dish! plus anything paired with Pinot gets my vote ;)
Does anything not go with a Pinot?!!! Thanks.
Looks wonderful…. My husband is a huge fan of hers as well… we’ve made a few of her recipes, always a hit here!
Yes, she’s very talented and a versatile cook as well. And, she has a cute dog, so I’ll always follow her blog!
I have always loved chicken shawarma, and I know we would both love the lamb! Will have to check out Nagi’s post! This recipe is perfect for us, as we are grilling almost every evening!
Don’t be put off by the amount of cardamom, because it works. It’s a surprising intense combination of seasonings, in fact, which I love. Lots of folks like pinches of this and that, but this dry rub of sorts is serious!
This is a fabulous idea for a summer grill. Love the spice mix.
It’s a lovely combination of spices!
Thanks Angela. Really fun to eat, with all of the goodies.
Absolutely adore shawarma. When I lived in Dubai it was on every street corner, but since I moved back to Australia I’ve missed it and have had to resort to cooking it myself.yottam ottalengi has a lovely recipe (also originally a lamb one) that I use, with whole chicken thighs (which I slice after cooking) so you get the rendered fat like the fast food version 😉. It’s quite an ordeal though, with lots of fresh ground spices, so the above looks easier. Thanks!
There was certainly nothing hard about this recipe. I’ll have to check Ottolenghi’s recipe out – it’s probably in one of my cookbooks. I really want to make the lamb shawarma, but I have to wait until one of my lamb-eating friends visits!
yum! and I feel like you are doing something new and wonderful with your food photos! They are stunning!!!
Oh wow – thank you! I really appreciate that!
Lovely spice mix Chef Mimi….
I’d love to take credit for it!
I might try the spice mix on the chicken pieces I’ve taken out for dinner tonight.
Perfect! It’s a wonderful seasoning mixture.
look really good !
Thank you Gloria!
I wonder why I never made this dish either! Love the spices and all your “goodies”.
It’s a Middle Eastern (sort of) version of fajitas, with goodies!
This looks fantastic! My husband won’t eat lamb either but he’d love this chicken!
What a pain!!! At least I know a few people who will eat lamb with me!
Beautiful, just my kind of food! And I’d have all the “goodies” too :)
And the chicken is so tasty with all of those wonderful spices!
What a fun party idea! This chicken shawarma looks amazing—and such a fun summer entree!
Exactly. We had two friends over one night when I served the chicken shawarma – just a small party – but it was fun to make your own, like a fajita party, which I’m known for!
They both look droolworthy but you really must work on your husband. Doesn’t eat lamb, one of the most delicious things ever…?!?!
Oh, he’s just full of it. He used to eat it. I remember an early Easter in our marriage when I made a leg of lamb with a dried fruit stuffing, and he loved it.. I don’t know what happened to him.
I love shawarma and I was just thinking about adding shawarma dish to my next dinner party! It’s going to take some testing…. Rough job but someone has to do it right?! I’m thinking quail…
Interesting! The seasoning mixture is fabulous.
I love Middle Eastern flavors. I love lamb, but haven’t been able to eat it since the day I hung a photo of a baby lamb on my son’s wall. I’m happy to see this recipe made with chicken and will try it soon! I’d love to make the pickled radishes as well!
I know what you mean. On Instagram, I follow food folks, of course, but then I follow animal sanctuaries. It’s tough when lamb and a baby lamb are juxtaposed…..
I think I’d prefer your chicken version to lamb and a great way to first try a shawarma recipe :)
If you like spicy seasoning, not hot spicy, but just super spiced seasoning, you’ll love these flavors!
I have never tried this dish and it looks really good! I am bookmarking this. Your recipes are all great Mimi. Have a great week ahead.
Thank you so much Alina!
I’ve probably had something similar at Greek restaurants that serve lamb on a rotisserie- luv ’em! But I’ve never tried it with chicken- betcha tastes great and your yogurt sauce looks delish! I also had a look at Nagi’s recipe with the pomegranate seeds- wow!
Yeah. It does look really good!
Chicken shawarma is so delicious! I’ve never tried to make my own; I’ve always picked it up from my fav restaurant spot. After seeing this recipe, I’m tempted to try to make it.
Well it would be tempting to just pick it up… but you might want to see how this recipe is different. Or the same!
Terrific recipe! I’ve never made chicken sharma either — always been a restaurant thing for me. I really should make this — such good stuff. Thanks!
It is. It’s funny how certain things get ignored, forgotten, surpassed…. I’ve made it three times now, at my husband’s request, which doesn’t happen often in my kitchen. He might light it more than fajitas, which I shouldn’t compare, but they’re familiar with a flatbread, meat, and goodies! And they both go well with margaritas!
I have to say that I’ve never been a shawarma meat fan, here we actually call it mystery meat because it is pressed together to form this tall tube and it is rotated directly under a heat lamp. It is from this reheated tube that they slice for sandwiches. But to make my own shawarma a bit perfumie, so I might cut it back. Sounds like a dish my husband would love too!
Oh my. That’s probably why I’ve never stopped at one of those gyro stands. They seem to be on every street corner in Europe.
This looks great, Mimi. Shawarma is very popular around here, and usually made using lamb, pork, or turkey. I would go for thighs rather than breasts. The yogurt sauce is great with a lot of garlic, especially if it is allowed to rest for at least a day. This is great party food. You are taking good care of your guests.
Thank you Stefan! My guests always feel loved!
Well spiced. Well presented. well done! GREG
Thank you Greg! Sorry, I just found your comment. Love the spices in this dish!
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Mimi, this is stunning. I was head over heels in love with the Shawarma. I already own a Shawarma Machine, so trying something new will be fun. That is why I am looking forward to making this on my Shawarma machine. It is an excellent dish, and I hope I’ll enjoy it.
How exciting! I’ll have to check that out!