Shawarma (/ʃəˈwɑːrmə/; Arabic: شاورما) is a dish in Middle Eastern cuisine consisting of meat cut into thin slices, stacked in a cone-like shape, and roasted on a slowly-turning vertical rotisserie or spit. Originally made of lamb or mutton, today’s shawarma may also be chicken, turkey, beef, or veal. Thin slices are shaved off the cooked surface as it continuously rotates. Shawarma is one of the world’s most popular street foods, especially in Egypt, the countries of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula, and beyond.
Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme[tʃeviɾˈme] ‘turning’, referring to the turning rotisserie.
Although the roasting of meat on horizontal spits has an ancient history, the technique of 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. Both the Greek gyros and shawarma are derived from this. 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. Continue Reading (2 minute read)