Once upon a time shawarma used to be a dish from Middle East. Well, today every country now has its own shawarma or kebab. Since 1990s it became extremely popular in Russia. I’m a fan of Middle-Eastern fast food, and I have tasted different types of kebabs in many countries all over the world and I can state: Russian shawarma tastes different.
It can’t be compared to Finnish, Thai and even Turkish kebabs. Though all of them have the same origin. No matter what whoever says, the main ingredient of shawarma is sauce. If you’ve been to Russia, you’ve definitely smelled mouth-watering flavor coming from bistros. This is it – flavor of sauce and fried meat. Did you taste it?
It’s your own choice, which ingredients you want to use with shawarma sauce, and how you want to eat it – on a plate (like in the first pic) or wrap a roll with pita bread or lavash. I will only give you my basic recipe of sauce and my ideas of what suits the best.
- 150 g of sour yogurt (Turkish, Greek etc)
- 150 g of mayonnaise (note: Russian mayonnaise is not sweet, so Thai mayonnaise won’t do)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp of salt
You may use 1-2 tsp of you favorite kebab spice mix. Just check if there’s salt, in this case you will need to reduce amount of salt. I add following spices:
- 0,33 tsp of thyme
- 0,25 tsp of bell pepper powder (sweet, paprika)
- 0,25 tsp of oregano
- 0,25 tsp of grounded cumin
- 0,25 tsp og grounded white pepper
- A pinch of grounded coriander seeds
- A pinch of turmeric
- A pinch of mustard (powder)
Mix ingredients well and leave sauce for an hour. If you want shaurma sauce to be more liquid, you can add 50 ml of milk. Sauce can be stored for 3 days in a fridge.
This sauce is very salty, because the rest of ingredients contain no salt (only naturally contained).
This way vegetables (f.e. fresh that we’ll use for salad) don’t loose their juices.
Perfect set of fresh vegetables (that you will 100% find in any Russian shawarma-house) is:
- Cucumbers (~200 g)
- Ripe tomatoes (~200 g)
- Onion (~25 g)
Cut onion in quarters, then slice. Dice cucumbers and tomatoes. Mix. Add no salt and no spices. Prior to serving pour some shawarma sauce over vegetables – do not stir.
The most popular meat for shawarma in Russia is chicken. But it doesn’t matter, what kind of meat you will take. The easiest (quickest) way is to dice meat and fry it in some oil at high heat, constantly stirring. There should be enough space between meat cubes, otherwise they will loose juices and get dry, while you try to make them slightly brown.
Don’t add salt to the meat. While spices are at your own choice – you can omit them (sauce has enough spices) or put as many as you wish (so anyone in your district will definitely notice that you’re cooking). You may use any spice mix from khmeli-suneli to ras el hanout or curry.
Healthiness of fast food is in your hands – everything depends on what you will add. One of healthy ways is to add to shawarma following vegetables:
- Bell peppers of any colors
Generally I take courgettes and bell peppers in 1:1 proportion. If you like baked onion, you can replace 1/3 of bell peppers with onion.
1. Cut courgettes in thick rings (~1 cm thick). Bell peppers – in squares, the size should be not more than the size of courgette slices. Onion rings should be ~0,5-1 cm thick.
2. Preheat oven, 200°C, convection mode – if possible.
3. Put vegetables to a mold or a baking tray covered with parchment paper the way I do it on a picture. Bake for 30 min. Vegetables should look as if they have been a little bit dried (juices will stay inside of them).
- Pommes frites or baked potatoes
- Boiled rice
- Any fried minced meat – patties, kebabs etc
If you make a roll, you may also add:
- Korean-style carrot (it really perfectly fits shawarma),
- Fried mushrooms (champignons),
- Cheese (usually its flavor is suppressed by the flavor of other ingredients, esp. sauce),
- Sauerkraut (chopped pickled cabbage Russian- & German-style) – don’t put it too much, a pinch or so per 1 roll,
- Chopped dill & parsley.