Mediterranean Turkish

All About Shawarma, History, Preparation, and Serving

Shawarma, an ottoman street food, originated in the middle east to become one of the most popular foods in today’s world, such as sushi, burgers, and falafel. Today shawarma is the number one popular food in Europe, and Germany alone consumes 400 tons per day of its meat in the manufacture of shawarma sandwiches.

A true star of nocturnal snacks or meals on the go, shawarma has invaded the world and has long been part of our culinary landscape, allowing partygoers and students to fill up at low cost in all circumstances. But its original form, chawarma, was not necessarily a popular sandwich. Between ancestral cooking methods and luxury dishes, let’s find out where this delicious meat sandwich comes from.

The Origins Of Chawarma

Chawarma is a spicy meat preparation from Turkey, served as a sandwich in pita bread, in a dürüm bread (unleavened), or on a plate, with separate meat and vegetable. It is this sandwich that we more commonly refer to as kebab in Europe, although the Lebanese variant is not quite identical to the Turkish kebab.

It can be written as chawarma or shawarma, a term that comes from the Turkish word çevirme which means “it turns”, in reference to the method of preparing meat.

This meat recipe, first mentioned in a writing in the fourteenth century, has an uncertain origin and could go back further in the past, as it is believed that the nomadic peoples of central Asia cooked meat on brooches or swords as early as that time. During the thirteenth century, it even acquired the status of luxury delicacies, with the sultans of the Indian royal court.

However, its democratization as a sandwich had to wait until the nineteenth century, when chawarma was offered in bread in the streets of the cities of the ottoman empire. It was at this same time that the idea of cooking the meat on a vertical spit was adopted, which made it possible to make the fat flow throughout the preparation, for a more marked flavor.

The Traditional Shape Of The Alexander Kebab

Around 1830, the famous Iskander Effendi restaurant in the Turkish city of Bursa invented the vertical transport method, which allowed the installation of the skewer of the Shawarma vertically instead of horizontally, it is not known exactly how Hajji Iskandar was able to enable the transporter to erect vertically, but it was his invention that opened the door to the spread of shawarma in this wide form in our world. Today the Bursa method in the preparation of shawarma is called: Iskander Kebab.

Of course, Shawarma spread from bursa to Syria, and as the stock exchange arrived from Erzurum. in 1906, teacher Siddiq al-Khabaz opened his shawarma restaurant in Marja square in Damascus after leaving his job at Iskandar effendi restaurant in bursa, carrying with him the method and prescription of hajj Mohammed bin Iskandar effendi, and then spread in Damascus to add to its sauce cardamom beans that characterized the taste of the famous Syrian shawarma.

The Traditional Shape Of Doner Kebab

Later, in 1945, the son of a refugee from Samarkand in Sajjad, beyti Güler, opened a restaurant in Istanbul that began serving his first meals in the city, quoting a recipe he had learned in the Roman province of Dobruca, called Doner Kebab, in distinction from the rest of the kebabs his restaurant offered to his clients.

it was not common to serve shawarma wrapped in slices of bread, but from the beginning of its appearance, in a dish with a meal of steamed rice bellauv (bellao), the habit continued until the tashrameh arrived in Damascus and Istanbul, where it was served by a friend’s restaurant in Damascus during the 1940s, wrapped in Arabic saj bread and cut, next to a meal of Shami salad, and first appeared the meal of Arab shawarma.

It was presented in Istanbul in 1960 by master P.T. Geller wrapped in a layer of Turkish tanur bread to get the name Dorm Dürüm, a wrapped one, and this method spread throughout Istanbul during the 1960s

Its Name Is Based On A Paradox

Now that you know some of Turkish history, it’s time for a world tour of Shawarma. Very well known in France and more particularly in Germany, where it was exported first, Shawarma has a sweet little name in each of the countries where it is sold. After the word thank you, and a few other well-flowered words, you will now be able to order your favorite slab breaker internationally. Come on, let’s go!

In France Is It Shawarma Or Greek

The debate already begins there. In France, you just have to cross a department to make a mistake in the appellation but fortunately, the result remains the same.

Shawarma, a sandwich made from meat grilled on a spit – a cooking process born in turkey in the fifteenth century – was then offered in Paris by restaurateurs of greek origin, located in particular in the Latin quarter.

Consumers then quickly named this new product “greek sandwich”. This naming error then spread to the rest of the country, although the word “kebab” is more readily used in southern France, and “döner” in the north. But a bit like the “pain au chocolat” and the “chocolatine”, there is always a war, especially on social networks, concerning this name.

In Greece however, they don’t call it “greek” at all, it would have been far too easy! Your favorite night meal is called “souvlaki” in the streets of Athens. Composed of what we no longer present: the famous salad-tomato-onions, you can add to the recipe the emblematic tzatzíki. Because yes, what would it be a trip to the Cyclades without tasting a real tzatzíki? Here there is no question of the associate with blinis, it is with borek that we taste it or in a pita.

On the Asian side, the kebab also has a cousin called … Kebab. There is no risk, once you have tasted a lot of sushi, your diet will remind you of the classics and in a burst of nostalgia, you will find the road to the nearest kebab. Here the recipe is very simple, in pita bread, you usually find beef with cabbage. For the sauce, no fuss, a good ketchup mayo and we talk about it more! Sometimes there is no point in wanting to create new flavors, the taste is hidden in simplicity.

There are still many small names: banh mi, doner, Arab tacos, kebabnorsk, shish taouk, or danar (we let you guess the associated countries). What matters is that almost everywhere in the world, you will be able to find that sandwich that has saved more than one of your evenings.

Shawarma is served in Greece as “geros”, in Armenia as “trna”, and the two words mean the rotation of Sikhs as well.

In Iraq, there is also shawarma, like many countries in the world, but they are called “shears”, and Iraqi shawarma is characterized by a very long “skewer”; it may be up to one and a half meters long and sometimes more, served with bread and appetizers.

How Shawarma Became So Famous In Germany

At the dawn of the 1970s, a member of berlin’s Turkish community launched kebab as a fast food product, triggering a growing craze for the meatloaf. From then on, the Turkish sandwich set out to conquer Europe and the chawarma settled into our culinary habits.

The doner kebab and berlin have a long history. The traditional dish already existed in turkey in the 19th century, but the sandwich variant as meat and vegetables in bread with sauce (extra spicy) on top was invented in the early 1970s. In berlin. Of course in Kreuzberg, where at that time many Turks who came to Germany as “guest workers” found a new home. Today, the kebab is a constant part of everyday life. In addition to hamburgers, pizza, and currywurst, a sales hit of fast food culture, a symbol of German-Turkish togetherness, and above all: cult! Döner kebab and berlin – a perfect combination. Here we tell the story.

Many Turkish restaurants and snack bars emerged and in the early 1970s, Turkish innkeepers reacted to the fast-food trend and began to sell their traditional grilled meat dish handy in bread. A hearty sandwich, warm, nutritious, and quick. The perfect snack for the rushed city dweller. The slowly turning skewer, from which the kebab meat is cut with a long knife, prevailed. According to legend, the kebab inventor was Kadir norman, a Turk from Kreuzberg who ran a snack bar on kottbusser damm. Soon the snack bar competition took up his idea and the kebab spread rapidly throughout west berlin and the federal republic of Germany

The Historical Dispute Over Its Origin.

Shawarma is one of the most popular meals around the world, and is loved by many in different cultures and customs, and is often prepared in the same way in all the countries it offers;

Although the basic idea of shawarma is to expose it to a quiet fire, which leads to the liquidation of meat from fat and excess impurities, it contains a lot of calories, fat, and cholesterol, possibly because of the added elements such as fat placed to the top of the skewer, which makes it one of the most obese meals.

Eastern restaurants, particularly in Turkey, the Levant, and Egypt, are famous for serving fast shawarma sandwiches, which have a delicious taste, but the origin of the meal is disputed, as each country claims to have the idea of shawarma presents its argument confirming its meal rate.

Turkish Story:

The Turks are said to have prepared the shawarma, called “ceverem”, which means the rotation of Sikhs in front of the fire, and the first to invent it was Mohammad Iskander in the Turkish city of a bursa in 1870, whose grandchildren confirm that he is the first vertical shawarma Sikh in the world.

Shawarma or “donner kebab” is turkey’s first popular meal, and the Turkish version says that shawarma was passed on to Arabs by Turkish pilgrims who were crossing Syria on their pilgrimage.

German Story:

As stated above the german novel says that it was Kadir norman who introduced shawarma to Germany, when he traveled to Germany in the 1970s, as a foreign worker selling steaks inside the oriental bread in front of the Berlin zoo station as the donner.

Shawarma has spread to Germany to become one of the most important fast food there, described as “Abu shawarma” and “Abu al-donner” and died in 2013, and german chancellor angela Merkel called him.

Some studies have shown that shawarma is very popular in german restaurants, plays an important role in stimulating the German economy, and spreads many factories and factories for its production, as well as the size of the restaurants that promote the sale of this meal, which in Germany has become more consumed than hamburgers and other fast food.

The Syrian Story:

The Syrians also insist that the origin of shawarma, in its current context, belongs to them;

When the Arabs came to contact the Turks, the word “qaurma” changed to “shawarma”, so Syrians believe that shawarma is an Arab identity but of Turkish origin, but most countries of the world agree that the chicken shawarma is originally from Syria.

Egyptian Story:

The Egyptian novel about the ownership of the origin of shawarma, through inscriptions on the temple of Ramses II in Beni suef, says that 6,000 years ago, the ladies of beni suef created a quick meal for couples and children working in agriculture, through the work of thin steaks with spices and onion juice with a “cabbage” exposed to fire, in case the shawarma is as close as it is today.

The Israeli Story:

As usual in jumping on different forms of civilization, Israel tried to join this historic dispute over shawarma and attributed to itself Arabic dishes such as falafel and chickpeas, and thought that shawarma was originally Jewish.

How Is A Good Chawarma Prepared?

Depending on the country in which it is prepared (Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine …), and according to the means of each – it must be remembered that it is a dish intended for the least affluent classes – chawarma can consist of different meats: lamb, mutton, chicken, turkey, or even beef that is sometimes mixed with another meat.

The meat is marinated in a preparation based on olive oil, vinegar, spices (pepper, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg …), and sometimes red wine. Then it is left to sit for about 12 hours so that it softens and perfumes itself.

Then the slices of meat are placed on a vertical spindle, which can be turned slowly, which provides uniform cooking to the preparation. At the top of the meat mixture, some add mutton fat that will melt on all the meat during cooking, to enhance its taste and improve its tenderness. At home, it will be necessary to pass the meat in the oven, in a block or previously sliced into strips.

All that remains is to cut thin slices of meat and add the tarator sauce (composed of garlic, lemon juice, and sesame cream or tahiné) as well as raw vegetables (tomato, salad, onion, cucumber, parsley …) Within a pita bread to obtain a succulent chawarma. It can be accompanied by fries, hummus, or eggplant caviar to feast.

The Different Types Of Shawarma Across The Globe

The shawarma recipe is available in many variants with, in turkey alone, at least 3 variations of meat sandwiches. They differ in the spice content in the sandwich, in the addition of tomato sauce (for iskender kebab for example), or in the method of cooking meat and vegetables, which can be cooked together.

Another very popular variant in Iran is the chelow kebab and its fragrant beef skewers served with tasty saffron rice. A delight!

In Greece and Cyprus, there is gyros, a meat sandwich served on pita bread. When the north Africans began to propose a kebab quite close to the gyros in its form, the “greek sandwich”, already anchored in the minds, became embedded in everyday language, instead of the name “kebab”.

Finally, on the other side of the planet, we note the presence of tacos al pastor, quite popular in Mexico, and which was brought back by Lebanese immigrants and then reworked to adapt to local tastes.

Is It Shawarma Or Kebab

Whether chawarma or kebab, this mixture of marinated meat, vegetables, and good bread is present all over the planet and fans just have to go in search of the best of them!

In fact, shawarma is a variety of kebabs that has evolved into a dish of its own.

No matter where you live, most likely, close to home, there is a fast-food restaurant that serves typical Turkish kebabs or shawarma. If you have ever wondered what makes these very similar dishes different, then this article is for you.

Although both are native to Turkish cuisine, in fact, the two meat dishes differ in preparation and cooking methods. Unlike kebabs, which are mostly cooked on skewers, shawarma meat is grilled on a rotisserie. Doner kebab is the only variety of kebab that resembles shawarma. But let’s go step by step.

What Is A Kebab?

The way kebab is prepared, which in itself is a meat dish, varies from country to country: the meat can be ground but also cut into thick slices stacked on large bamboo or metal skewers called shish. And this is what makes the kebab unique: the fact that it is cooked on shish.

The birthplace of this dish is the ottoman empire, ancient turkey. Today, the Turks have exported kebab all over the world in its most diverse varieties: from chicken Adana (consisting of chopped chicken seasoned with herbs and spices) to shish kebab (the best-known variant, i.e. Slices of lamb, chicken, beef, or fish cooked on skewers), to doner kebab (another very popular variant, cooked on a large vertical skewer that allows you to “shave” the outermost layer of meat and serve it in bread or on a flat with sauces and vegetables).

What Is Shawarma?

We now come to shawarma, a popular dish in the countries of the middle east and the Arabian peninsula. In this case, the meat is not cooked on skewers but grilled horizontally on a rotisserie. Hence the name shawarma, which in Turkish means precisely “to turn”.

Kebab And Shawarma, Between Similarities And Differences

Simply put, shawarma is a variety of kebabs that has evolved into a separate dish. In fact, shawarma and doner kebab is very similar in cooking mode: in both cases, the slices of meat are skewered on a long rod, cooking while the spit rotates.

The real difference lies in the origin of the two dishes: doner kebab is one of the many varieties of Turkish kebab, while shawarma comes from the Arab-middle eastern region and derives from doner kebab (the latter is popular street food in Egypt and other countries of the eastern Mediterranean region, as well as in the Arabian peninsula).

Another key difference between shawarma and doner kebab is the seasoning. The spices used for shawarma are cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom, which give the dish its pronounced middle eastern flavors.

Both dishes, on the other hand, are prepared with different types of meat: beef, chicken, lamb but also veal, turkey, and mutton.

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