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Showing Off Schawarma
Although sushi, pizza and panini have joined the legions of Israeli street food, for many years there were only two options: falafel and schawarma.
Imported from the gyro (pronounced yee-roh), which evolved from the doner kebab of Turkey, a schawarma is shaved off a big cylinder of lamb or turkey meat cooked on a slowly rotating vertical spit (hence the gyro connection). A generous piece of fat is attached to provide that greasy, meaty taste.
The schawarma-macher saws off strips of the hot cooked meat into a (clean) dust pan and stuffs it into a pita or lafa (flat, bigger pita rolled up), along with the customer’s choice of salads from an enticing array.
My local schawarma joint offers lamb or turkey schawarma, and both are delicious. But if your neighborhood lacks a schawarma joint, don’t be upset. You can replicate the taste, if not the experience, at home.
Combine all ingredients and store in a glass container in a cool, dry place.
Chop the onion coarsely. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the turkey and schawarma spice and continue to sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup water or more, as needed to prevent burning. Cover, reduce heat, and continue to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until completely cooked, checking frequently.
Split pitas; fill with desired salads and hummus and/or techina and stuff with hot turkey. Serve immediately.
To make the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice and oil. Add curry powder, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
Add the chicken and coat with marinade. Marinate chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat a grill to medium heat. Remove the chicken from marinade. Grill chicken for about 10 minutes on each side or until fully cooked through.
Serve chicken on pita and top with tomatoes and Schawarma Sauce.
Add garlic to the bowl of a food processor and process until chopped. Add the tahini and pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly add cold water until frothy.
Add lemon juice and mix until creamy. Season with salt, to taste.
Cut cucumbers, tomatoes and bell pepper into 1⁄4-inch dice or smaller. (Purists do this without the aid of a cutting board!). Season with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper and optional herbs. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Thinly slice tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro.
Mix chile pepper with lemon juice and salt in a small bowl.
Beat olive oil into chile pepper-lemon juice mixture. Pour over tomatoes and coriander. Cover and chill before serving.
Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 46 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: [email protected].