Chicken Shawarma

Shawarma is one of those universally loved foods. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t swoon at the thought of a good shawarma sandwich. Even Tony Stark craved for it after winning the Battle of New York. I usually get my shawarma fix at this neighborhood joint around the corner from my apartment. Sadly, after 8 years of weekly Tuesday shawarma dinners, I moved to an area where there are no Lebanese or Middle Eastern restaurants. Driving back to my old haunt was time consuming and inconvenient, so I had no choice but to learn to make my own shawarma. I had a pretty good idea of what the marinade is like, so I experimented with different spices until I found the combination I liked. At one point, I ran out of lemons and used oranges instead. I can honestly say that that was a really good recipe, not traditional, but great for when you’re in a bind. This recipe yields a lot of chicken, like feed-a-small-army-a-lot of chicken, so it’s a good dish to make on the weekend, and use as a base for meals throughout the week. Paired with hummus and Jerusalem salad, this makes for a very healthy, low carb, gluten free meal.

(Serves 4-6)


3 lbs of thinly cut skinless boneless chicken breast
½ cup of lemon juice
2 tbsp of tomato paste
½ c of plain or Greek yogurt
3 tbps of white vinegar
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 tbps of olive oil
1 tsp of ground oregano (or thyme)
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
A pinch of nutmeg powder
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut into strips about ½ inch thick.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a food processor, add to a bowl and mix well with the chicken. Cover with a plastic wrap, and make sure the wrap is not over the lid of the bowl, but actually pressed all the way down immediately on top of the chicken. This prevents condensation while marinating the chicken overnight in the top shelf of the refrigerator.
  3. When ready, use an electric grill or panini maker to cook the chicken. Set the heat on medium and grill for 5-7 minutes. If only one side is on the heat source, grill for 3-5 minutes on each side. Let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
  4. If you want to use the chicken in a sandwich, chop it roughly into bite-sized pieces, then stuff it in a pita bread with fresh onions, tomatoes, and hummus.
  5. For a dinner entree, serve with Jerusalem salad, rice, and hummus or baba ghanouj.

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