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The Ultimate Guide for Making Chicken Shawarma at Home


Have you ever dreamt of replicating those mouthwatering chicken wraps bursting with juicy, spiced chicken, creamy sauce, and fresh veggies from your favourite street vendor? Well, that's the magic of chicken shawarma, a beloved Middle Eastern dish that you can create with surprising ease in your kitchen!

This recipe breaks down the process of making chicken shawarma at home into simple steps, making it achievable even for beginner cooks. So, grab your apron and get ready to embark on a flavorful journey!


The Soul of Shawarma: Unveiling the Spice Mix

Shawarma's distinct character comes from a unique blend of spices called shawarma masala. The good news is that most grocery stores these days carry pre-made shawarma masala for your convenience. But if you're feeling adventurous and have a well-stocked spice cabinet, here's a basic shawarma masala recipe to craft your own:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of paprika

Simply dry roast all the ingredients in a pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Then, grind them into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.


Marinating for Maximum Flavour: The Secret Weapon

The key to perfectly tender and flavourful shawarma lies in marinating the chicken. Here's what you'll need to unlock this secret:

  • 1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt (full-fat, preferably)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons shawarma masala (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Marinating Steps:

  1. Slice it thin: Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the chicken into thin strips for even cooking.
  2. Craft the marinade: In a large bowl, combine yoghurt, lemon juice, olive oil, shawarma masala, ginger-garlic paste, salt, and pepper. Mix well to create a thick marinade.
  3. Marinate for deep flavours: Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and toss them well to coat them evenly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the deeper the flavours will be absorbed.


Cooking Up Your Shawarma Dreams: Choosing Your Battleground

There are three main ways to cook your chicken at home, allowing you to choose the method that best suits your equipment and preferences:

  • The Art of the Grill: If you have a grill, this is the most traditional method and adds a lovely smoky flavour. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto skewers and grill them over medium heat until cooked through.
  • Pan-Seared Perfection: Heat a pan with some oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces in batches and cook them until golden brown and cooked through on all sides.
  • Oven-Baked Goodness: Preheat your oven to 220°C (425°F). Spread the marinated chicken pieces on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through, turning them halfway through for even browning.


Building Your Shawarma Masterpiece: Wraps and Toppings

Now comes the exciting part - assembling your shawarma! Here's what you'll need to create your masterpiece:

  • Pita bread (or roti, if preferred)
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Thinly sliced lemons
  • Chopped parsley
  • Tahini sauce (or any yoghurt-based sauce you like)


Assembly Steps:

  1. Warm the bread: Warm your pita bread or roti slightly. You can do this in a pan over low heat or in the microwave for a few seconds for added flexibility.
  2. Sauce it up: Spread a generous amount of tahini sauce or your chosen sauce on the warmed bread.
  3. Layer the flavour: Add a layer of cooked chicken shawarma.
  4. Veggie time: Pile on the chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley for a refreshing crunch.
  5. A touch of citrus: Squeeze some fresh lemon juice for a tangy touch that brightens up all the flavours.
  6. Wrap it tight: Wrap the pita bread or roti tightly, folding


Also Read:

Easy Indian Chicken Marinade Recipe (Step-by-Step)

Top Sauce Picks for Your Grilled Chicken


Tips and Tricks for Shawarma Success:

  • Don't skip the marination: It's crucial for tender and flavourful chicken.
  • Use a variety of vegetables: Experiment with other toppings like pickled onions, peppers, or lettuce.
  • Make it a family affair: Let everyone customise their shawarma with their favourite toppings.
  • Leftover love: Leftover chicken shawarma can be used in salads, sandwiches, or fried rice the next day.