A meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit and grilled for a long time, the shawarma is the cheapest and best food I have seen or eaten in the last decade and a half in Bahrain. Costing as little as less than a dollar apiece, it is widely available all over the country bur rarely is seen before evening.
The typical evening ‘comfort food,’ the if one has a couple along with a can of juice or aerated drink, is actually dinner, with no need to sit down later for a full meal!
Shavings are cut off a block of meat for serving, and the rest of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat. It is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba.
It is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat (beef, lamb or marinated chicken) on a stick. An onion, a tomato, or a halved lemon is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for more flavoring. The meat is roasted slowly on all sides as the spit rotates in front of, or over, a flame for hours. Traditionally, a wood fire was used; but now, a gas flame is common. While specialty restaurants might offer two or more meat selections, some establishments have just one skewer.
While cooking, the meat is shaved off the stack with a large knife, an electric knife or a small circular saw, dropping to a circular tray below to be retrieved.
For me, personally, I had a shawarma after nearly three years, having come down with a bout of stomach infection the last time I had it. Though it was never conclusively proved the shawarma did it, I nevertheless gave it a go-by. I have taken the chance again, and so far, all is well!