Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Opinions from the Kitchen: Shawarma Made at Home

One of the things I miss most about Ottawa are the shawarmas. I've been addicted to these awesome garlicky Lebanese sandwiches since high school, but it seems Edmonton hasn't really discovered them yet. To ease the withdrawal pains, I've been forced to take matters into my own hands and make shawarmas at home.

I've been using this falafel recipe from Epicurious as the base for my home made wraps. They are better than any restaurant bought falafel I've ever had. I omit the cilantro and replace half of the flour with bulgur wheat, then everything goes into the food processor. (Warning: don't even think of omitting the flour completely, it's the gluten from the flour that allows you to shape the mixture into balls. Without it they'll fall apart before you can even get them into the pan.) I'm told that you can bake these, but I haven't had much luck with that. I just fry them in some vegetable oil until they turn brown all over. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe but it's worth it. See how crispy and delicious they look?

To make your shawarma sandwiches, you will also need fresh pita bread, lettuce, sliced onions, dill pickles and pickled turnip. I haven't been able to find pickled turnip, so I am doing without for now. You can also add hot peppers for some spice. And the most important part of the shawarma experience: garlic sauce. I've experimented with many garlic sauce recipes over the years, and have come up with my own that is deliciously authentic without being ridiculously unhealthy.

Garlic shawarma sauce
     - 1 1/2 cups of thick Greek yoghurt
     - juice from 1/2 lemon
     - 5 cloves of garlic, grated as small as possible
     - 1 tbsp of tahini (optional, if you feel like it)
Mix and refrigerate overnight to allow the garlic flavour to really develop.

Shawarmas are typically served with fried potatoes or rice. We usually go with rice since we're already frying the falafel. For an extra kick, I recommend adding 1tbsp of olive oil and the juice from the remaining half lemon to the water for cooking your rice. Also throw in some fresh mint or oregano if you've got it.

I put all of this out on the table, and we have fun making our own delicious pita wraps. If I could just get my hands on some purple pickled turnips, shawarma night would be perfect!


  1. Hmm, never had them, never heard of them, but they sure look yummy!

  2. Thanks for a new idea for dinner. Looks great.