Is Shawarma Healthy? How To Make Sharwama

Sometimes, what we know might not be the truth. Some people have notions that shawarma is unhealthy food. But is that the truth? Well, in this article, I will talk about shawarma, its nutritional facts, and health benefits, and of course, how to make shawarma.

What Is In Shawarma?

Shawarma is a trendy food in the world right from the ancient down to today. It is widely loved by a majority of people and has gained dominance in Russia and Europe to be precise. Here in Nigeria, Shawarma is eaten, loved and cherished especially in recent times.

It is a Middle Eastern meal, and this meal is made from a wrap which used thinly sliced cuts of meat like beef, lamb, turkey or chicken rolled up into a large piece of steamed flatbread or pita bread, and then thinly layered with tahini sauce or hummus. When the spread is split open, you can also add vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, etc. This is how to make shawarma.

How to Make Shawarma
How to Make Shawarma

Who Invented Shawarma?

Shawarma’s origin is a mix between Turkey, Arabic, and the Greek. Though its origin is not so clear, it is believed that shawarma originated from the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. It existed in many variations, in Greece it is called the gyro, and then it is called doner kebab in Turkey.

Moving into the origin of the word shawarma, we can trace it to the Turkish word “cevirme” which means the “turning process of cooking meat.”

We can say that it is from that word that the word shawarma originated from. Gyro is the Greek word for turning while shawarma is the Arabic word for turning.

This turning process is a Levantine Arab meat preparation, where chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, veal, or mixtures of meat are placed on a split and grilled for several hours.

The sharing of this meat is cut off the block of meat for serving as a sandwich wherein in this case as shawarma, or in a plate. It can be eaten with tabbouleh bread, tomato, and cucumber.

How to Make Shawarma
How to Make Shawarma

Shawarma Recipe

There are two main kinds of shawarma you can eat which is found almost everywhere in the world.

There is beef shawarma and chicken shawarma.

However, shawarma can also be prepared with seasoned mutton, turkey, veal, or lamb.

How to make sharwama involves spices like; cumin, cardanon, turmeric, paprika, bahart, and cinnamon. Shawarma can also be prepared using cucumbers, diced tomatoes, onions, mango sauce, tahini sauce, and pickled vegetables.

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Varieties of vegetables include cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, rhubarb, cabbage or French fries.

The toppings added to the shawarma include; tahini, hummus, or pickled turnips

Chicken shawarma is served with garlic mayonnaise, toumaia (garlic sauce), pomegranate concentrate or skhug (a hot chili sauce).

If you are in a high-end restaurant, it is possible to get your shawarma with French fries, eggplant or grilled peppers.

How to make shawarma in Israel is done differently. Since the Jewish law restricts milk (yogurt) and meat together, shawarma is cooked with dark meat turkey and tahini sauce.

Shawarma Nutritional Facts

  • Vitamin A                   4 %
  • Vitamin C                   15 %
  • Vitamin E
  • Iron                             10 %
  • Phosphorus
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Calories                     440g Total fat 10g
  • Cholesterol               85 mg
  • Sodium                                   680 mg
  • Calcium                      33%
  • Protein                                   30 – 40 g
  • Dietary fiber                         4g
  • Total carbohydrate             25 – 40 g

Health Benefits of Shawarma

1. Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body; this makes it essential for a lot of functions. Calcium is needed to promote healthy bones and teeth’s. Calcium also helps in the regulation of metabolic processes, control of the muscles contraction and the heart and finally helps in blood clotting.

Milk, cheese, and any other dairy products used in shawarma is an excellent source of calcium. Also, the bread in shawarma is another great source of calcium. Calcium is also provided by the green leafy veggies used in the shawarma meal.

The deficiency of this nutrient in the body results in weak bone densities, and can also lead in an inadequate supply of vitamin D which is essential for the absorption of calcium.

2. Phosphorus

The human body needs about 80 % of its phosphorus to help in the formation of calcium salt present in the skeleton; thus, calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth structuring.

The red meat used in shawarma is an excellent source of phosphorus. Also, the chicken or any other poultry used in shawarma is another great source of phosphorus.

Phosphorus deficiency may cause bone diseases such as rickets which is found majorly in children, and also osteomalacia found majorly in adults.

3. Magnesium

The human tissues, most notably the bone, need this essential mineral. This mineral has a relationship with calcium, potassium and then sodium.

Magnesium is needed for enzyme activation and also for muscle and nerve function.

The green leafy vegetable, meat, and the dairy products present in shawarma are great sources of magnesium.

A deficiency in magnesium will result to progressive muscle weakness and malabsorption disorders.

4. Sodium

This nutrient is responsible for regulating the water content of the body, and also for electrolyte balance. Too much of sodium, however, is terrible because it can lead to kidney issues.

Sodium being a standard component of sodium salt is available in many foods, including shawarma. But well regulated and is just the right fit for the body.

Although this is depending on the way, it is prepared.

5. Potassium

Increased dietary intake of potassium has been helpful in reducing blood pressure this is because potassium is essential for water and electrolyte balance needed by the body.

In shawarma, meat vegetables and the milk used in shawarma are a common source of potassium in the body.

And a deficiency in potassium in the body results to general weakness, clouded mind and then if extreme can lead to heart failure.

6. Iron

Iron is so much essential in the body for the formation of hemoglobin which helps in red blood cells. Specifically, it helps in the transportation of oxygen around the body.

Iron is found in the vegetables present in shawarma, and also in the red meat, poultry, and the whole grain present in shawarma.

A lack of this source in the human body can lead to iron deficiency anemia.   

7. Protein

Shawarma meat contains protein, and this is an excellent boost to the immune system. Not only that, but pita bread is also a good source of protein.  They help in building cells, speed up healing process of wounds and also help to boost low immunity.

8. Fats

About 10 g of fat is found in the shawarma meal, and this is good and moderate for proper body functioning.

9. Calories

The shawarma meal contains about 500 g of calories which is about 31% of the daily calories needed by the human body for proper functioning and regulation.

10. Dietary fiber

Now there is a regular amount of dietary fiber found in the shawarma meal. This dietary fiber helps to prevent constipation which is a significant challenge when it comes to digestion. This dietary fiber also helps in weight management.

And then finally the dietary fiber also helps to control blood sugar level.

11. Magnesium

The structural health of cell membranes is critical to the general health of the body. The shawarma diet contains magnesium and this helps to maintain the skeletal health of cell membranes, and also helps to build muscle mass.

12. Sodium

There is nothing as crucial as the sodium intake in the body. Shawarma helps to provide the body with sodium. Sodium helps in regulating the fluid level of the body. Calcium is also known to assist in the bone structure, and milk in shawarma gives that calcium to the body.

How to Make Shawarma
How to Make Shawarma

Chicken Shawarma Recipe

Marinated shawarma holds the number one spot when it comes to best-loved and most recommended shawarma types in the world today.

This is because of the fact that chicken is quite affordable and gives less health concern to others.

The chicken breast contains less fat than the other shawarma types and cooking it under the grill after marinating it in yogurt prevents you from adding extra fat to it to keep it moist.

how to make shawarma with chicken involves the use of the following ingredients;

For the chicken

Chicken breast or chicken thigh (it can either be boned or deboned)

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons malt vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon groundnut oil
  • Teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 clove of garlic well chopped
  • 180 g of low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 cm thick slice of 180g organic chicken

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon tahini (seasoned seed paste)
  • 180 g low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon clove well chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To serve

  • Whole wheat pita bread or tortilla wraps
  • Head lettuce, shredded
  • Small cabbage
  • Medium-sized carrots
  • 2 big tomatoes (cut them into thinly sliced bits)
  • One medium onion ( peeled and thinly sliced)
  • Assorted pickles
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 – 6 skewers

How To Make Shawarma

  1. Combine the lemon juice, vinegar, oil, spices, garlic, and yogurt in a bowl. Add the chicken and mix well.
  2. Cover with ching film and place in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours, overnight if possible.
  3. Preheat the grill to medium / high. Shake some of the marinades off from the meat, thread the thin chicken slice on to skewers and cook under the grill for 4 – 5 minutes on each side- allow the chicken to be cooked through, but not dry.
  4. To make the sauce, whisk the tahini, yogurt, and garlic and lemon juice together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Warm the pita bread in the oven.
  5. Carefully remove the meat from the skewers and arrange in the middle of the bread, add the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles and then drizzle the tahini sauce over everything.

Beef Shawarma Recipe

The process of making the beef shawarma is not so much different from how the other shawarmas are made.

How to make shawarma with beef involves the following ingredients;

  • 2 pounds beef
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain) n
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

For the sauce

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 8 loaves pita bread (or 4 large)
  • 1 cucumber (thinly sliced)
  • 1 onion (thinly sliced)
  • ½ teaspoon sumac
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt

How To Prepare Beef Shawarma

Step 1: The first thing to do is to combine all the ingredients together, but the beef, the fillings, and the sauce ingredient will not be added yet because they will be needed to make the marinades. If the ingredient looks a little dry, it’s time to add a little olive oil.

Step 2:  then it is time to add the beef, cover it, and then refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Step 3: cook the beef in a large saucepan over with medium heat for about 45 minutes or till when done. Do not overcook, and while cooking, if you notice that the beef is becoming too dry, add little water, but ensure that it is not overcooked.

Step 4:  do not forget to prepare the sauce while the beef is being cooked.  Ensure you combine the sauce ingredients very well in a uniform mix, and then set aside.

Step 5:  take your onions, tomatoes, your cucumbers, and then sprinkle with sumac. Add other filling ingredients in a large bowl and combine very well.

Step 6: by the time the beef is done, you have different options of shredding it, slicing it, or leaving it into large pieces.  But ensure that it is thinly cut.

Step 7:  now is the right time for assembling the pita, what you do here is to place enough beef on the pita to cover, ¼ of the loaf, and then add veggies and pour sauce. You can then roll like a soft taco or burrito, and there you have it, you successful shawarma.

How To Make Shawarma With Frying Pans

Here it is, so many persons think you can only use oven or with the microwave, but let me show you a simple way of how to make shawarma with the frying pan for easy homemade consumption.

Okay now, to make shawarma with the frying pan, you just need a stove or a gas cooker, a pan, and another pot or deep lid to cover and to allow it bake for a little.

  • Step 1 :

Wrap your shawarma with the pita bread.

  • Step 2:

Place an empty frying pan on a burner, keeping it at low heat.

  • Step 3:

Place a wire rack in the frying pan.

  • Step 4:

Turn on the heat and place a deep lid or another large pot on the frying pan. Leave it to heat up for about 3 – n4 minutes.

  • Step 5:

Take off the lid and place the shawarmas you’ve made on the rack. This is to prevent it from actually lying barely on the floor of the pot and to prevent it from burning.

  • Step 6:

After placing them on the rack in the pan, cover the pan, and then allow them to cook for about 2 minutes or more, this varies depending on how you want yours to be cooked.

  • Step 7:

Take off the lid or the pot used in covering it, and then use a tong or a spoon to pick them out.

Here you have it, all you need to know about shawarma, its benefits and how to make shawarma, on a single article.

So is shawarma healthy? Do you know how to make shawarma ? You should be able to answer better now and with certainty. Do you have more questions about sharwama, feel free to let us know in the comment section. Don’t forget to share!


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