A shawarma
Alternative nameschawarma, çevirme, shaurma, showarma,[1] other variations
Place of originOttoman Empire[1][2][3]
Region or stateLevant
Associated cuisineMiddle East
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsMeat: lamb, chicken, turkey, beef
Sandwich: Shawarma meat, pita or wrap bread, chopped or shredded vegetables, pickles and assorted condiments
Similar dishesDoner kebab, kebab, İskender kebap, al pastor, gyros

Shawarma (/ʃəˈwɑːrmə/; Arabic: شاورما) is a popular Middle Eastern dish that originated in the Ottoman Empire,[1][2][3][4] consisting of meat cut into thin slices, stacked in an inverted cone, and roasted on a slowly turning vertical rotisserie or spit. Traditionally made with lamb or mutton, it may also be made with chicken, turkey, beef, or veal.[5][6][1] Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates.[7][8] Shawarma is a popular street food in the greater Middle East, including Syria, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, and other Levant countries, also served widely in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.[9][10][11]


Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of the Ottoman Turkish çevirme (چيويرمى) ([tʃeviɾˈme], "turning"), referring to the turning rotisserie.[10]


Shawarma in Lebanon, 1950

Although the roasting of meat on horizontal spits has an ancient history, the shawarma technique—grilling a vertical stack of meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks—first appeared in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, in what is now Turkey, in the form of doner kebab, [1][12][13] which both the Greek gyros and shawarma are derived from.[1][2][14] Shawarma, in turn, led to the development during the early 20th century of the contemporary Mexican dish tacos al pastor when it was brought there by Lebanese immigrants.[2][15]


Shawarma is prepared from thin cuts of seasoned and marinated lamb, mutton, veal, beef, chicken, or turkey. The slices are stacked on a skewer about 60 cm (20 in) high. Pieces of fat may be added to the stack to provide extra juiciness and flavor. A motorized spit slowly turns the stack of meat in front of an electric or gas-fired heating element, continuously roasting the outer layer. Shavings are cut off the rotating stack for serving, customarily with a long, flat knife.[1]

Spices may include cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric or paprika, and in some areas baharat.[15][3] Shawarma is commonly served as a sandwich or wrap, in a flatbread such as pita or laffa.[1][16] In the Middle East, chicken shawarma is typically served with garlic sauce, fries, and pickles. The garlic sauce served with the sandwich depends on the meat. Toum or toumie sauce is made from garlic, vegetable oil, lemon, and egg white or starch, and is usually served with chicken shawarma. Tarator sauce is made from garlic, tahini sauce, lemon, and water, and is served with beef shawarma.

In Israel, most shawarma is made with dark-meat turkey and is commonly served with tahina sauce because yogurt sauce with meat would violate the Jewish dietary prohibition on eating milk and meat together.[15] It is often garnished with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pickled vegetables, hummus, tahina sauce, sumac, or amba mango sauce.[1] Some restaurants offer additional toppings, including grilled peppers, eggplant, or french fries.[17]

In Bahrain, there is a popular shawarma variant known as 'malgoum.' This traditional shawarma is served inside chapati or paratha bread. The name 'malgoum' means 'loaded' or 'heavily filled,' and it lives up to its name with a generous serving of sauces, and fillings such as french fries and cheese, and sometimes, a dash of hot sauce.[18]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. ISBN 9780544186316. OCLC 849738985. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2018-08-10 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ a b c d Prichep, Deena; Estrin, Daniel (2015-05-07). "Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor". PRI. Archived from the original on 2015-05-08. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Salloum, Habeeb; Lim, Suan L. (2010). The Arabian Nights Cookbook: From Lamb Kebabs to Baba Ghanouj, Delicious Homestyle Arabian Cooking. Tokyo: Tuttle Pub. p. 66. ISBN 9781462905249. OCLC 782879761. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  4. ^ Philip Mattar (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa: D-K. Macmillan Reference USA. p. 840. ISBN 978-0-02-865771-4. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2015-11-14.
  5. ^ Albala, Ken, ed. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 197, 225, 250, 260–261, 269. ISBN 9780313376269. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2020-10-20 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Davidson, Alan (2014). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford Companions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780191040726. OCLC 1119636257 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Mattar, Philip (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa: D-K. Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East & North Africa. Vol. 2 (Hardcover ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. p. 840. ISBN 9780028657714. OCLC 469317304. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2015-11-14. Shawarma is a popular Levantine Arab specialty.
  8. ^ La Boone, III, John A. (2006). Around the World of Food: Adventures in Culinary History (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc. p. 115. ISBN 0595389686. OCLC 70144831. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2020-10-20. Shawarma - An Arab sandwich similar to the gyro.
  9. ^ Kraig, Bruce; Sen, Colleen Taylor (2013). Street Food Around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. xxv, 18–19, 127–129, 339. ISBN 978-1598849554. OCLC 864676073.
  10. ^ a b Al Khan, Mohammed N. (31 July 2009). "Shawarma: the Arabic fast food". Gulf News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  11. ^ Jenny Walker; Terry Carter; Lara Dunston (2007). Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula. Lonely Planet. pp. 381–. ISBN 978-1-74104-546-8.
  12. ^ Eberhard Seidel-Pielen (May 10, 1996). "Döner-Fieber sogar in Hoyerswerda" [Doner fever even in Hoyerswerda]. ZEIT ONLINE (in German). Archived from the original on December 25, 2021. Retrieved May 6, 2016. Neither in the written recipes of the medieval Arab cuisine nor in the Turkish cookbooks from the first half of the 19th century are there any indications. According to research carried out by Turkish master chef Rennan Yaman, who lives in Berlin, the doner kebab is an amazingly young creation of Ottoman cuisine. (Quote translated from the German)
  13. ^ Kiple, Kenneth F.; Ornelas, Kriemhild Coneè, eds. (2000). The Cambridge World History of Food, Volume 2. Cambridge University Press. p. 1147. ISBN 9780521402156. Archived from the original on 2023-04-21. Retrieved 2019-07-23 – via Google Books. Bursa is the town that gave birth to the world-famous doner kebab, meat roasted on a vertical revolving spit.
  14. ^ Kremezi, Aglaia (2010). "What's in the Name of a Dish?". In Hosking, Richard (ed.). Food and Language: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking 2009. Vol. 28. Totnes: Prospect Books. pp. 203–204. ISBN 9781903018798. OCLC 624419365. Archived from the original on 2023-01-15. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  15. ^ a b c Guttman, Vered (2017-05-01). "How to Make Shawarma Like an Israeli". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  16. ^ Al-Masri, Mohammad. Colloquial Arabic (Levantine): The Complete Course for Beginners. Routledge.
  17. ^ Laor, Eran (2019-01-10). "Shawarma, the Iconic Israeli Street Food, Is Slowly Making a Comeback in Tel Aviv". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 2022-03-05. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
  18. ^ عواجه, ياسمين; المدهون, جعفر (2019-07-14). "شاورما "الملغوم"..نسخة "غريبة" لطبق شعبي في البحرين". CNN Arabic. Retrieved 2023-09-02.