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The Shawarma

Shawarma is thinly sliced cuts of meat, like chicken, beef, goat, lamb, and sometimes turkey, rolled into a large piece of flat bread or pita that has been steamed or heated. Inside the pita, foods like hummus, tahini, pickles, vegetables, and even French fries are added. The archetypal meat dish of the Middle East is as much about the spices applied to the meat and the condiments served with it as it is about the familiar cooking method on a spit. The spiced chicken and onion salsa will no doubt turn into a staple in your kitchen, they are so good. If you don’t like tahini, try well-seasoned Greek yogurt with crushed garlic.

The shawarma is also a country by country experience, changing taste and texture even by neighbourhood in the same city. If you travel in the Middle East, you will invariably come across these delicious street-side items and will be surprised by the variety of them that you will find.

Most shawarma are made outside restaurants, you can spot the shawarma shops by their massive towering logs of revolving meat and their vertical red cookers that are sizzling the rawness away. These meat towers are usually manned by shawarma cutters, sometimes dressed in entire cook’s outfits replete with French chef hats. The men wield lengthy knives with which they slice off bits of the meat into a receptacle.

Some countries like the UAE have banned outdoor shawarma cooking due to health concerns, unfortunately, so now the cutting men have to stand inside makeshift outdoor shed type houses which undoubtedly adds to the heat .The receptacle that the meat falls into is also usually home to some of the shawarma toppings, such as sliced tomatoes, onions or cucumbers. This allows the vegetables to soak up the meat juices from above, giving them a very distinct taste.