Venturing Out of the Comfort Zone: Shawarma

I love Greek food. I love Mediterranean food. I love gyros. I love shawarma. Pretty much, if you can skewer it, roast it with spices, kabob it, what have you, I’ll have it. Many people can attest to the fact that I claim to have 0 knowledge of how to cook this type of food. And truly, I do not. This is most certainly NOT one of those meals I can whip up at any time, anywhere. This meal required some research and planning, but surprisingly, I only needed to buy one oddball item.

Was it as good as the shaved to order, tower of chicken that one can get at a traditional shawarma restaurant? Not quite- but in a pinch, it hit the spot. For a metro area of 400,000 people, I am still shocked that the Quad Cities does not have one real gyros/shawarma place. If you happen to be in a larger metro- check out Naf Naf Grill. Their shawarma will knock your socks off.

This recipe adaptation is an ode to the delicious Naf Naf pita- I did what I could with what I had. I experimented with an ingredient I have never used before, and I have to say, it was pretty successful.

Chicken Shawarma and Mediterranean Salad


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • Pitas (I had to get creative here since my grocery store did not have pitas. I used the Flatout wraps and that was great too)
  • Marinade for chicken:
    • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Juice from 1 medium lemon
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
    • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • Pinch red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Yogurt Sauce:
    • 1 (7-ounce) container 2% Greek yogurt (I like Fage)
    • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
    • Parsley flakes
  • Salad
    • 1 seedless cucumber, chopped
    • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
    • Salt and Pepper
    • White wine vinegar
    • Olive Oil
    • Mint


  1. Combine the oil and lemon juice in a bowl
  2. Add the spices and combine well
  3. Place chicken in a Ziplock bag, pour marinade over the top, and massage into chicken. Let sit in refrigerator at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  4. Mix salad ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate.
  5. Mix yogurt ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate.
  6. Grill the chicken and slice thinly
  7. Serve with salad on the side or inside the pita, and top with yogurt sauce.


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