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Video:Shawarma-Style Lamb Pita

with John Mitzewich

This simplified, home version of the famous Middle Eastern shawarma is a delicious and exotic lamb pita sandwich. The secret is the yogurt and spice marinade which makes the lamb meat tender and infuses it with the spice blend.See Transcript

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Transcript:Shawarma-Style Lamb Pita

Hi, I'm Chef John Mitzewich for About.com, today we're going to do a shawarma style lamb pita. And there they are. Shawarma is actually a Turkish word which means turn, and this is basically a marinated and spiced lamb that's normally cooked on a rotisserie, hence the turning phrase. Anyway, we're going to do a home version of this.

Shwarma-Style Lamb Pita Ingredients

You will need:
  • 2 lbs of lamb stew meat, 2 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp mace
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Prepare the Lamb

It's the yogurt that's going to tenderize this meat. The mace gives it that signature shawarma-spiced, kind of Middle Eastern flavor. We're going to marinate this for 12-24 hours. I can't you exactly, but if your meat is smaller you may go 12 hours, if it was as big as mine I went 24. We're going to put those on a foil wrapped pan, and boil on high for about 5 minutes per side. It depends on the size. I like it a little pink inside.

Tahini Sauce Ingredients

Now for the tahini sauce or dressing:
  • 1/2 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini, which is a sesame seed paste
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp cold water

Mix the Tahini Sauce

So basically to make tahini dressing you whisk together equal parts tahini and water. Once you mix that 1 to 1 ratio the lemon and garlic are to taste. Now, once the lamb has cooled to room temp, you can chop it up or you can slice it up. It depends of you personal taste. Some places that serve shawarmas chop it up and grill it. Other places serve it in bigger chunks.

We're going to season that with salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste, 1/3 cup fresh parsley to give a nice fresh touch, and to moisten everything together, 2 tbsp of olive oil. Give it a mix. Now, you could eat this room temperature; it's okay. But it's really good if, in a dry hot pan, you warm it up a little. That really will bring out that mace, cinnamon, and cumin spice flavors, the garlic - so incredibly aromatic.

Assemble the Shwarma Lamb Pita

Traditionally this is served with a garnish of tomatoes, cucumbers, the tahini sauce and pitas. Lots of people like onions also, but I think they're a bit too strong, but go ahead and put onions if you like. And that's it. You drizzle some tahini on after you stuff your pitas. An incredibly delicious and aromatic, kind of exotic, lunch or dinner. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy.

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