13 May What makes the perfect Shawarma?
As Mediterranean food has grown in popularity, certain dishes really have caught the imagination. Some of these are seafood dishes, falafel has gained a great following, but for some people, the star of Lebanese cuisine is a shawarma.
A great shawarma has a bit of everything. There is a delicious meat choice between chicken and lamb. There is a good dose of mixed vegetables to make it healthy, there is a lovely warm piece of pitta bread to wrap it all in and, if you like, this can all be served with hummus and occasionally some very spicy sauce to give it a real kick.
The question of just what makes a perfect shawarma is not an easy one to answer, but for us it is important, because we don’t want it to just be good, we want it to be exceptional.
Of course, not everyone will be in full agreement on the question. Some prefer chicken, some prefer lamb, while the exact ingredients, seasoning and whether hummus should be involved are all matters that can reasonably be considered issues of personal taste.
Even so, there are some key elements that every truly great shawarma should have.
Take the spicy sauce mix. For some, a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, onion, bouillon and suya spice will be sensational. Suya is optional, however, and varying the level of paprika can ensure it is not too hot or too mild.
While the meat will be marinaded in this, it should never be too hot; the best combo will always allow mild sides like mayo, ketchum, cream or hummus to be present to ease the heat a bit, in the way a curry can be made milder by coconut, while a chilli sauce offers a hotter side option.
The vegetables should always be fresh and varied and offer some mildness alongside the spicy meat, with lots of greenery but other colours too. This means that green veg like cucumber, cabbage and lettuce should be accompanied by something towards the red end of the spectrum, such as carrot and red onion.
Once mixed together, the salad should provide a pleasing mix of colours, to which the meat will be added. The meat itself should, of course, be prime cuts of lamb or chicken breast.
The pitta bread is the last part. Some love it all wrapped up together, a bit like a Mexican taco but with different ingredients. However, others prefer to add bit and pieces to taste on the bread, maybe with dips or hummus for taste. Either way, there is nothing like freshly baked and warm bread to add an extra element of taste.
In the end, the perfect shawarma is not defined by any one particular ingredient, nor by the specific spiciness of the marinade, the exact amount of any one ingredient or particular combination of any particular meat or vegetable.
However, what does matter is that there is variety to provide both an attractive visual look and a great flavour combination, a high quality of ingredients and, above all, everything should be as fresh as possible. All that will tantalise anybody’s tastebuds. This is what truly makes the best shawarma – and it is the flavour-filled treat we seek to provide every single time.