One of my fondest memories as a kid was my first trip to Lebanon. So many new people, places and things to see and do. I was about 12 years old and I remember my mom being terrified that after all the years of speaking to us in Arabic, we wouldn't be able to hold a conversation. See, my parents always spoke to us in Arabic but we replied in English, go figure! To her surprise and delight, after a few days our mouth couldn't stop talking.
One afternoon our whole family, I'm talking My Big Fat Greek Wedding Style, 30+ people all gathered at a park or field or something for an afternoon. I'm sure I have pictures somewhere, but what I distinctly remember is watching my uncles and cousins butcher a lamb! I watched in intrigue and probably some horror as this little lamb was getting ready to be cooked. To the spit the little lamb went and I'm sure it was the best lamb I ever had!!
Shawarma is a meat preparation, historically done with lamb but today often with chicken, beef or veal. Much like my experience as a little girl watching the lamb cook on a spit, the shawarma technique was created to allow roasting layers and layers of meat but without bones. Meat is layered on a vertical spit and layered with fat to keep the meat tender and juicy. As the meat cooks, it is cut off to serve. The meat is flavorful, tender and delicious. Crazy as it may sound, shawarma was brought to Mexico by immigrants from the Middle East. Later they evolved into tacos al pastor. As Lebanese immigrants made their way to Mexico, they brought their culture and traditions. They began integrating their own heritage with Mexican cuisine.
Modern Day Shawarma
While I'd love to have a spit in my front yard, or a vertical shawarma roasting machine in my kitchen, that probably isn't going to happen! So what's the best way to get all the flavor in a shawarma sandwich? Enter Instant Pot! I've taken some of the oldest techniques and completely modernized them into using the Instant Pot. Spices, tender chicken thighs and all the amazing fixings, this sandwich may send you all the way back to Lebanon!
I hope you enjoy this simple recipe, not only is this version delicious but the spice mix is divine and can used on anything from potatoes to burgers! As always, I love to see your creations be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook if you give this a try.
|Prep Time||10 minutes|
|Cook Time||10 minutes|
|Passive Time||5 minutes|
- 2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoon corriander
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ginger
- 2 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoon Shawarma Spice Mix (see recipe above)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- Assorted veggies and pickled veggies tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, mint, parsley, pickles, scallions
- 1-2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- salt to taste
Shawarma Spice Mix (makes ¾ cup)
Tarator (tahini sauce)
- Mix all spices together and store in jar.
- **Note the above Shawarma Spice Mix makes MORE than needed for this recipe. Save remainder for another time. Coat chicken with 3 tablespoon Shawarma Spice Mix and olive oil. Can leave to marinade overnight, but not necessary.
- Add ¾ cup stock to the bottom of your Instant Pot and add the rack.
- Lay the spiced chicken on the rack. Place lid on pot and close to sealing position.
- Set to MANUAL 8 minutes, let cook.
- Once completed, release pressure after 5 minutes.
- Assemble your shawarma with any/all the toppings you'd like on pita: cucumbers tomatoes radishes onions with sumac green onions pickled veggies
- Prepare taratore sauce: With mortar and pestle smash garlic, add your tahini, water, lemon and salt. Adjust lemon and salt to your liking.
Check out Episode 2 on Ugly Delicious for a deeper connection tacos al pastor and Lebanese immigration.