Shawarma: A Journey from the Middle East to the Indian Plate


Shawarma, the delectable Middle Eastern dish, has taken India by storm. Its flavorful, tender meat, wrapped in warm pita bread with a symphony of sauces and vegetables, is an explosion of taste and texture that’s hard to resist. But what exactly is shawarma, and where can you find the best ones in India?

A Culinary Journey:

Shawarma’s origins can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where it was a popular street food. Thinly sliced marinated meat, usually lamb or chicken, is stacked on a rotating spit and cooked slowly over charcoal or an open flame. As the meat cooks, it caramelizes on the outside while remaining juicy and flavorful inside. This cooked meat is then shaved off and served in various ways, most commonly on pita bread with hummus, tahini, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs.

Shawarma in India:

Shawarma has adapted beautifully to the Indian palate. While traditional spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika remain the base, Indian chefs have added their own twist with ingredients like tandoori masala, garam masala, and even yogurt marinades. This fusion has resulted in a unique and delicious variety of shawarmas, catering to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian preferences.

Finding the Best Shawarma:

With its growing popularity, shawarma joints are popping up all over India. But where can you find the absolute best? Here are a few recommendations, keeping in mind that taste is subjective and preferences vary:

  • Delhi: Al-Bake in South Delhi is a legend. Their juicy chicken shawarma, wrapped in soft pita bread with their special mayo, is simply divine. Don’t miss their mutton shawarma either!
  • Bengaluru: Absolute Shawarma is a rapidly growing chain, offering consistently delicious shawarmas across the city. Their peri peri chicken shawarma is a must-try for spice lovers.
  • Mumbai: Al-Zaitoon in Mohammad Ali Road is a hidden gem. Their succulent shawarmas, served with generous portions of hummus and tahini, are a true taste of the Middle East.
  • Hyderabad: Bawarchi in Mehdipatnam serves some of the best Hyderabadi-style shawarmas. The meat is marinated in special spices and cooked to perfection, resulting in a flavorful and aromatic treat.

Beyond the Pita:

While shawarma is traditionally enjoyed in pita bread, it can be relished in other ways as well. Shawarma rolls, bowls, and platters are becoming increasingly popular, offering more customization options. You can even find shawarma pizzas and burgers now!

So, the next time you’re craving something flavorful and satisfying, seek out a shawarma joint near you. With its vibrant history, diverse flavors, and endless possibilities, shawarma is sure to tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more!

Tips for the Perfect Shawarma:

  • Choose your meat: Chicken, lamb, mutton, and even paneer are common shawarma fillings. Pick what suits your taste.
  • Don’t forget the sauces: Hummus, tahini, garlic sauce, and even chutneys add layers of flavor and moisture. Experiment and find your perfect combination.
  • Spice it up!: If you like it hot, ask for harissa or chili flakes.
  • Go fresh: Pickled vegetables and fresh herbs add a refreshing touch.
  • Make it your own: Don’t be afraid to customize your shawarma with your favorite toppings.

I hope this article has given you a deeper appreciation for shawarma and helped you find the perfect one to satisfy your cravings!

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