Alternative names chawarma, shaurma, showarma;[1] shawurma, shawerma
Type Meat
Place of origin Ottoman Empire[2]
Region or state Middle East, Levant
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Meat: lamb, chicken, turkey, beef
Sandwich: Shawarma meat, pita or wrap bread, chopped or shredded vegetables, pickles and assorted condiments
Similar dishes Doner kebab, Al pastor, Gyros
Cookbook: Shawarma  Media: Shawarma

Shawarma (/ʃəˈwɑːrmə/; Arabic: شاورما), also shaurma and other spellings, is a Middle Eastern meat preparation, a variation of the doner kebab of Ottoman Turkey, where thin cuts of lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are stacked in a cone-like shape on a vertical rotisserie.[3][4][1] As it rotates and the outside cooks continuously, thin slices are shaved off.[5][6] Shawarma is one of the world's most popular street foods, especially in the countries of the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula.[7] It is similar to the Greek gyros, which is also derived from the doner kebab.[8] It was brought in the early 20th century to Mexico by immigrants from the Middle East, where it became the basis of tacos al pastor.[2]


Grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks was developed in the 19th century in Ottoman Turkey.[9][10] This is döner kebab, which is the origin of shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros.


Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] 'turning', referring to the turning rotisserie.[11] The Turkish and Greek names, döner and gyros, similarly refer to turning.


Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Shawarma can be served on a plate (generally with accompaniments), or as a sandwich or wrap. Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba.

  • Towards the end of the 2012 superhero film The Avengers, after the group's battle with the Chitauri army, Iron Man expresses his desire to eat shawarma to celebrate. In the post-credits scene, the titular group is seen tiredly eating shawarma at a local eatery in New York City.[12] According to TMZ, this led to a temporary boost in shawarma sales in Los Angeles when the movie opened.[13]

See also


  1. 1 2 Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780544186316 via Google Books.
  2. 1 2 Prichep, Deena; Estrin, Daniel. "Thank the Ottoman Empire for the taco al pastor". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  3. Albala, Ken, ed. (2011). Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 197,225, 250, 260–261, 269. ISBN 9780313376269 via Google Books.
  4. Davidson, Alan (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 259. ISBN 9780191040726 via Google Books.
  5. Philip Mattar (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle Eastern (Hardcover ed.). Macmillan Library Reference. p. 840. ISBN 0028657713. Shawarma is a popular Levantine Arab specialty.
  6. John A La Boone III (2006). Around the World of Food: Adventures in Culinary History (Paperback ed.). iUniverse, Inc. p. 115. ISBN 0595389686. Shawarma - An Arab sandwich similar to the gyro.
  7. Street food around the world : an encyclopedia of food and culture. Santa Barbara, California. pp. 18, 339. ISBN 1598849557. OCLC 864676073.
  8. Aglaia Kremezi and Anissa Helou, "What's in a Dish's Name", "Food and Language", Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2009, ISBN 190301879X
  9. Eberhard Seidel-Pielen (May 10, 1996). "Döner-Fieber sogar in Hoyerswerda" [Doner fever even in Hoyerswerda]. ZEIT ONLINE (in German). Retrieved May 6, 2016.
  10. Kenneth F. Kiple, Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas, eds., Cambridge World History of Food, Cambridge, 2000. ISBN 0-521-40216-6. Vol. 2, p. 1147
  11. Reporter, Mohammed N. Al Khan, Staff (31 July 2009). "Shawarma: the Arabic fast food".
  12. "'The Avengers': The story of the after-credits shawarma scene".
  13. "'Avengers' Joke Skyrockets Shawarma Sales In Los Angeles".
  • Media related to Shawarma at Wikimedia Commons
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