Chicken Schwarma


May 27, 2010 by Dana

When you hear the word Egypt, what comes to mind?  The Nile?  Ancient pyramids?  Cleopatra?  Camels?

When I hear Egypt, I think food.  Well, more accurately, I think of my stepmom, Aida, and her cooking.  Aida was born and raised in Alexandria, and makes the most deliciously authentic Middle Eastern food.  Today’s recipe is one of her specialties, chicken schwarma.


1.5 lbs chicken, thinly sliced
1 package of SPYSI schwarma seasoning
Splash of lemon juice
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Last time I visited my dad and Aida, she sent me home with a few packages of schwarma seasoning and some instructions to make her chicken schwarma.  I was excited to make something new and tried it right away.

The only problem was that it was January, and she had said to cook the chicken on the grill.  Now, that’s fine for her in Florida, but for me, in NY, grilling in January is just not an option.  So I improvised.  I sautéed the chicken on the stove and added all the ingredients to the sauté pan… What I ended up with was a spicy chicken stew-ish concoction.  It was good, but it was not schwarma.

But now, it’s grill season!  My building’s rooftop grill area has re-opened for the summer.  It’s time for some real schwarma!


1.  In a large ziplock bag or bowl, mix thinly sliced chicken with schwarma seasoning.  Add lemon juice as needed to make a paste with the dry seasoning.  Coat the chicken well.

2.  Mix tomatoes and parsley together in a large bowl.

3.  Grill chicken until cooked through.  Do not overcook; the moister the chicken, the better.  (Around here, Jake is our resident griller – he grilled the chicken in a vegetable basket so that the chicken didn’t fall through the grates.)

4.  Add the grilled chicken to the tomato and parsley salad.  Top with tahini as desired.

Serves 4

And there you have it, Aida’s chicken schwarma!  Well, it wasn’t exactly Aida’s, but it was pretty tasty.  For a complete meal, schwarma can be served over rice or with hot pita.  I happened to have some whole wheat tortillas on hand, so I made a chicken schwarma wrap… Yum!

4 thoughts on “Chicken Schwarma

  1. steff says:

    Dana, I’m so glad you started this blog. I love middle eastern food and will try this out soon. I don’t have access to a grill though so I’ll have to modified it somehow.

    Also, I’m emailing you now about doing a 5 Ingredient Challenge guest post! :)

    • Hey Steff! If you like Middle Eastern food, you’ll love this! I think you’d have luck making the chicken on the stove top as long as you don’t cook the other ingredients. Last time I was misled by the directions on the seasoning package, so I threw the tomatoes and parsley in the pan, and the tomatoes broke down and made a sauce. If you mix the chicken with the tomatoes in a separate bowl it would probably work…. let me know how you like it!

  2. Denise says:

    Well I will have to visit the Arabic store to try and get a hold of the schwarma seasoning (what exactly is in the package, can I make the spices up myself?) Those who don’t have access to a grill, just use your broiler in the oven, most people forget it is even there, and if you lucky enough to have a gas oven, that is even much better.

    • Hi Denise! On the back of the package, the following ingredients are listed: salt, wheat flour, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, spices, citric acid, natural flavors. I don’t know how helpful that is because “spices” is pretty vague. I think your best bet is to go to the arabic store or other ethnic food store and pick up a package of seasoning.

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