Shop in the Medan, I asked this man if I could take his picture and he eagerly agreed!

This tasty sandwich can be found all over Saudi Arabia as well as Syria and probably most middle eastern countries. In Riyadh when you walk down to the neighborhood shops there will be at least a few restaurants and  most of them will sell Shawarma and Falafal sandwiches.  Shawarma is a sandwich made on pita or Arabic bread. It has seasoned chicken wrapped up in Arabic bread, with sauce, french fries and slices of pickle. I guess you could say it is like a burger for us here in America. It is basically the quick sandwich you pick up at a neighborhood shop in a hurry! Shawarma meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie as you can see in the picture!  At home you can make a simple version with a few ingredients.You can put whatever you like in your sandwich but on the streets of Riyadh, it is chicken, french fries, pickles and sauce!!

In Syria the same is true regarding this sandwich, it is found every where. The local area near my in-laws apartment is called the Medan. The street is lined with every imaginable shop for people in the local neighborhood. Trays of sweets sit out on the sidewalk, shop workers stand out front watching the latest soap opera on their television sets. We spent hours walking around this local shopping area. I asked the man in the featured image if I could take a picture and he happily agreed.


Because I still have 7 people in my household, my cooking is a bit on the large side. I am scaling this down here but know that these are estimates.

4 chicken breasts cut into thin pieces.

1 onion chopped

3 Tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp.turmeric

1/2 tsp.cumin

Salt- to taste

1 cup of water mixed with 1 chicken bouillon cube

3 cloves garlic

pinch of cayenne pepper

french fries cooked and these can be frozen or fresh

dill pickles sliced into thin strips

Sauce for sandwich

You can use anything you like to spread on your sandwich. I use one of the following:

Plain yogurt


Garlic Mayonnaise


Put onion, garlic and 3 Tbs. of olive oil in a large pan and saute, add chicken and stir frequently, add spices, mix well. Place water and bouillon cube in a separate pan, warm water and dissolve bouillon cube, add to chicken mix.  Cover and simmer until chicken is totally cooked. I like to let this simmer a little longer to make sure the chicken has soaked up these delicious flavors.

Spread sauce of you choice on Arabic bread, put chicken, pickles and fries, wrap it up and serve.


103 thoughts on “Shawarmas

  1. Now THAT is going to be eaten often, I can tell. By the way – I’m so glad you said you asked the man if you could take his picture. I rather think that one of the worst things about the dawn of the new era is people just snapping away without a thought for whether a person minds being in a picture that actually might end up on the internet being viewed by countless people. It’s a bit of a soapbox of mine – I wonder what others feel. Particularly where children are concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aah, the wonderful shawarma 🙂 the only time I miss eating meat is when I smell the shawarma chicken being cooked at the takeaways in Abu Dhabi. I make a vegetable version with slightly different spices to your, whilst making chicken for my boys. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. True, you can find it in many middle eastern countries, and even here in Lebanon.
    My friends visited Turkey and said that they make there very delicious shawarma.
    Tourists always fall in love with Shawarma whenever visiting a middle eastern country

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love shawarmas! It’s the one food I miss the most ever since I moved away from Pakistan.. And it’s the one food I can never manage to get right on my own :p

    Liked by 1 person

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