It’s been just over 3 years since I devoured my first chicken shawarma in Malaga, Spain. We’d walked past Gofre’s Pizza each day as it was near our bed & breakfast, El Riad. Every time we walked past this corner dive, it was packed with people either ordering shawarma or sitting on the steps of Teatro Cervantes de Malaga eating shawarma. The pictures looked like a gyro, which I’d had many times before. Matt compared the pictures to döner kebab which he’d eaten in London.
In fact, shawarma is a variation of those two. All three share the common factor of meat on a spit, cooked for a really long time, and shaved off upon ordering. After having experienced all three, I stand strong and tall with shawarma. And so should you. If you overhear a stranger talking about eating shawarma for dinner, you need to introduce yourself and become friends with this person. Figure out a way to invite yourself to dinner with them. It will be worth it a hundred times over.
And so my first shawarma was the last meal on the last night in Malaga. I think I was more sad upon leaving, not knowing when I would have shawarma again rather than missing Malaga. No, that’s not true. But my love of shawarma is true.
After our third trip to Malaga and about 10 shawarma later, it was necessary to figure out how to make this at home. And when we did, fireworks went off at the Geraets household. It was magical. The recipe below is adapted from this recipe, with a few tweaks.
– 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into large chunks (3-4 pieces per thigh)
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 2 tsp garam masala
– 2 tsp cumin
– 2 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp hot curry powder
– 1 tsp allspice
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1/4 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp cayenne
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– Salt & black pepper
1) Combine all of the ingredients above into a bowl. Stir to combine and marinate 4 hours or overnight.
2) To partially replicate the spit atmosphere, we use two skewers side by side and thread the chicken as tightly as possible. Then we grill them over medium heat, probably 30 minutes or so, until cooked through. Cool slightly.
3) Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and remove chicken from skewers. Chop the chicken into small pieces. Be sure to get some tiny pieces as they crisp up the best, in my opinion.
4) Saute the chicken in small batches until the edges get crispy.
Now, it’s time to assemble. This part is critical. We don’t have the perfect wraps for this, but the biggest tortillas you can find will work fine. Lay your tortilla flat and start adding toppings. Here’s how Matt and I layer: 1) sour cream 2) Sambal Oelek (ground chili paste) 3) chicken 4) cabbage 5) tomato 6) onion 7) spicy microgreens (optional, but a really nice addition) 8) fresh salsa. We encourage generous amounts of sour cream and Sambal Oelek. By the last couple bites, it should be a sloppy, yummy mess. You should want to lick your plate, and if you’re at home alone you just might.