“The word Shawarma, from the Turkish çevirme (rotating), is the Arabic name for what the Turks call döner kebabs (Döner means “one that turns”).”
Quotation: Gil MARKS. “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.”
“Shawarma is thinly sliced roasted seasoned lamb or turkey wrapped in flatbread.”
Other names: chawarma, shaurma, showarma; Turkey: döner kebab
Roasted lamb with flatbread is an ancient Middle Eastern combination, dating in Jewish cookery to the biblical paschal lamb of the Passover Seder wrapped in soft matza. The more recent shawarma is a similar combination consisting of highly-seasoned marinated slices of meat, originally lamb, stacked about two feet tall on a skewer and slowly roasted on a vertical spit in front of a flame. The word shawarma, from the Turkish çevirme (rotating), is the Arabic name for what the Turks call döner kebabs (döner means “one that turns”). The dish originated in Anatolia around the 1830s, after the invention of a mechanical vertical rotisserie, also called a cone tower, and soon emerged as the favorite Middle Eastern fast food/street food, prepared fresh to order. As the rotisserie turns, paper-thin slices of caramelized meat are shaved from the roasted surface using a very sharp knife; the falling shards are piled into a pita or laffa.
“Turkish versions tend to be spicier than those from Greece. Turkish immigrants introduced the döner kebab to Germany and England, where they eventually emerged as the favorite fast food.
Jews from the Near East brought a love for shawarma with them to Israel, and the enjoyment of the dish soon spread to Ashkenazim and Sephardim as well—shawarma rivals falafel as Israel’s favorite street food. In the early years of the state, when few homes had an oven, small shops and kiosks could purchase or jerry-rig a rotisserie, providing a practical method for roasting meat for a casual but filling meal. Because lamb was relatively expensive, Israelis typically began substituting locally raised turkey, frequently with a little lamb fat added for flavor and moisture. The meat is commonly served with Israeli salad or chopped tomatoes, tahini sauce or amba (curried mango condiment), and pickles. Recently, frozen packaged turkey shawarma and packets of shawarma spice mix have appeared in Israeli groceries.”
Quotation: Gil Marks. “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food.”