One of the true culinary pleasures of Israel is the shawarma. The chicken, lamb or, increasingly, turkey, is placed on a vertical spit and roasted. It’s then carved into little chunks of meat and served alongside an assortment of vegetables, or in a pita or flatbread called a laffa.
Unfortunately when I’m back in the United States, it’s hard to come by shawarma of any kind. While falafel has become a popular street food, shawarma has not totally caught on. Thus my craving for the stuff goes unrequited.
And so recently back from Israel and desperate as I was, I decided it was time to create my own shawarma recipe, one whose flavors were culled from my memories – and from a few recipes I’ve come across.
Easy chicken shawarma
PrintPrep15 minutes Cook Time50 minutes
- 2 lbs chicken thighs
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 cup olive oil
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Dash of cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 red onion
- Mix the spices, olive oil, lemon and garlic together in a bowl and then add the chicken thighs and toss by hand. Let marinate in the fridge for a few hours.
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Add the red onion (bell peppers also work) to the container of chicken thighs, toss, and then place in a pan. Cook the chicken thighs for 50 minutes.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the oven and slice the meat into small chunks. If you want the shawarma a little crispy, like it would be when it comes off the spit, throw it in a pan with a thin layer of oil and cook until it coils.
- Serve the shawarma as is or in a pita. You can add hummus, tomato, cucumber – whatever you’d like, really.