Shawarma: history of creation, composition, method of preparation

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Shawarma: history of creation, composition, method of preparation
Shawarma: history of creation, composition, method of preparation

Shawarma is a dish very popular in the countries of the eastern Mediterranean, such as Syria, Israel, Egypt, Turkey, etc. It is based on pita or lavash stuffed with grilled meat and then chopped, mixed with pieces of vegetables. Spices and various sauces are traditionally added. Shawarma is eaten without cutlery.

In the article we will tell about the history of the origin of the shawarma dish, about different names, about the rules for laying out ingredients adopted in different areas.

Name variations

Very similar dishes, but named with different words, came to us from past centuries and from different countries: shawarma - from the Arab world, dener kebab - from Turkey, gyros - from Greece.

Moscow residents say "shawarma", Petersburgers - "shawarma", in the city of Tver you will be offered "shawarma". In the Urals, for example, in the Perm Territory, there are both the most traditional names for Russian-speaking citizens. And in Azerbaijan, a mixture of meat and vegetablesserved wrapped in pita bread with white sweet and sour sauce. The locals call this dish shawarma, and for the traditional version of such an appetizer they use the name "dener kebab". Armenians have a different name - they say "karsi-khorovats" or "shavurma". Another option (mainly for visitors) is "karski shish kebab".

girl with shawarma

In Israel they prepare "shawarma" (with the accent on the second syllable) or "shwarma". Modern Arabs call this dish "shuarma", without emphasizing the stressed vowel. The Belgians call shawarma "pita-durum" or "durum" with the accent on the first syllable. The word is translated from Turkish means "wrapped". However, the same Belgians can also call the dish “pita” if this flatbread is used instead of pita bread. The English say "kebab", the Germans - "dener-kebab", and the Bulgarians - "duner". In Romania, the name "shaorma" or "shoorma" is accepted, and in Paris - "Greek sandwich". In the Czech Republic, the Greek word "gyros" is actively used to refer to shawarma.

Linguists testify that such a rich synonymic range can speak of a rich history of the creation of shawarma: after all, the word itself clearly has Semitic roots, "kebab" is Turkish, but "gyros" is Greek in origin.

By the way, modern dictionaries of the Russian language for the most part (except for the Explanatory Dictionary of T.F. Efremova) do not contain the word "shawarma", although it is quite activeused in Russia along with the word "shawarma". According to the conclusions of linguists, this word has taken root, since it does not contradict the norms of the Russian language, and besides, it is more convenient to pronounce - that is, it fits better on the tongue. It is very possible that, as is often the case with dialectisms, it will eventually take its place in dictionaries.

History of the dish

Shawarma appeared in Damascus a dozen centuries ago, or so it is believed. Initially, it consisted only of meat, which was wrapped in a flat cake. Later they guessed to marinate meat slices, then fry them, mixing with salad and flavoring with sauce.

In Europe, the history of shawarma is associated with migrants from Turkey. The first to make shawarma was Kadyr Nurman. It was a German culinary specialist of Turkish origin. He opened in 1972 in Berlin near the Zoologischer Garten railway station a kiosk for the production of this dish, which was specially designed for people who want a quick bite to eat on the go. These have always been in large cities. First of all, of course, there were labor migrants. Kadyr Nurman's "invention" was similar to Turkish dener kebab, made from puffed meat fried on a vertical spit and served as a sandwich. This shawarma, in addition to meat, also included traditional salad ingredients. Soon the dish became extremely popular, and kebab cafes, as they were originally called, spread throughout Germany and then throughout Europe. Now German-made shawarma is served in Berlin both in small cafes and inchic restaurants - she's so popular.

The history of shawarma in Russia

For the first time it appeared, of course, in the southern regions of our country. And it is still believed that this dish is the most delicious in the Caucasus.

Recipes of Moscow shawarma and St. Petersburg shawarma, like, indeed, many others around the world, can be considered variations on the theme "delicious Arabic dish". Over the centuries, it is already difficult to tell with high certainty about the history of shawarma and the rules for laying out ingredients. However, different versions still exist.

Eastern shawarma

There is even a legend according to which the history of the appearance of shawarma in Russia is associated with the city on the Neva. After all, the very first shawarma, speaking in St. Petersburg, was cooked here in 1990. They argue about a specific place: according to one version, this is Courage Square, according to another - Uprising. The gastronomic novelty was designated as shawarma, which was read and voiced by St. Petersburg residents as "shawarma", and Muscovites perceived this word by ear as "shawarma", which is why lexical inconsistency arose.

However, there was another version about the appearance of the "Arab guest" - allegedly shawarma was on the menu of the Lebanese cuisine restaurant "Bako-Lebanon" back in 1989.

Oriental shawarma ingredients

Shwarma is a popular fast food in Israel and Palestine. It is prepared from turkey meat or young lamb with obligatory soaking with a mixture of Arabic spices. Usually the cooking process is as follows: the meat is cut into small thin slices like plates, thenthey are pressed together and roasted on a spit. During the cooking process, the meat is cut off from the edges and wrapped in pita along with the rest of the ingredients. Sometimes only meat acts as a filling, and vegetables are served as a salad, separately.

Tahini is recognized as the most popular sauce in the Middle East, and tabbouleh is recognized as the most popular salad.

Doner kebab

Oriental traditions have been preserved in restaurants open in many cities, including Russian ones. It uses only meat that has been soaked in the marinade for at least a day. Marinade filling usually consisted (and consists) of vinegar, kefir, lemon juice and a set of spices. It is restaurant shawarma that is most often flavored with garlic sauce instead of ketchup or mayonnaise diluted in haste, as is often done in street stalls.

In Russia

According to the national history of shawarma, Moscow shawarma differs from St. Petersburg shawarma not only in size, but also in the composition of ingredients. The meat is pre-fried on a spit, then it is crushed and simmered on a baking sheet. Pieces of fried chicken (pork) are mixed with slices of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes or, depending on the season, shredded cabbage. The latter can occasionally be mixed with Korean-style carrots (Moscow version). In summer, cabbage is replaced by lettuce, and in winter, slices of fresh cucumbers are sometimes mixed with pickled ones. Then add a small amount of sauce - mayonnaise or ketchup. This mixture is wrapped in pita bread.

The St. Petersburg version contains chicken, pork in it you will notfind. Moreover, the meat, cut into cubes, is fried on a horizontal grill. Other ingredients are repeated - cucumbers, tomatoes, finely chopped cabbage. In this city, the sauce is more often made from sour cream mixed with garlic and spices (but other options are possible). The prepared mixture is wrapped not in pita bread, but in pita. Before serving, the cake with the filling is heated on a special contact grill. But not always.

Shawarma on a plate

Generally speaking, it is customary to eat shawarma with your hands, but this is inconvenient. Therefore, today sometimes a mixture of chicken and vegetables in sauce is served to the client on a plate (the ingredients can be laid out separately), and the flatbread is offered as an addition. Sometimes the manufacturers of this fast food reach the sophistication in the form of a slice of lemon on a plate with a ready dish. Pieces of fried potatoes can also be added to the canonical set, which, of course, will affect satiety and volume, but it can hardly be called a traditional shawarma dish.


Common sauces used to make this dish are kefir, white garlic, red tomato.

This is a separate topic, quite important, at least for this dish. For example, recipes for white sauce used in catering establishments in St. Petersburg are almost unique for each cook.

Here is one of the recipes: 4 tablespoons of kefir and sour cream are mixed with 4 tablespoons of grated garlic, then spices and herbs should be added (black and red ground pepper, coriander, dried parsley and dill). The sauce is mixed with the filling andinfused within an hour. It is worth noting that the distinctive feature of St. Petersburg sauce is the absence of mayonnaise.


Meat for shawarma today is prepared as follows: pieces or pressed meat plates are mounted on a large rotating vertical skewer, along which heating elements are located. As the frying progresses, the outer edges are cut off with a long knife into a pan, on which they are additionally crushed.

Pressed meat

The type of meat used in the preparation of shawarma can be different - chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and even camel meat. Occasionally, fish is also prepared for the filling. Pork is also used, but it is clear that in non-Muslim countries.

True, for the very first shawarma, only lamb and veal were taken, chicken began to be used relatively recently, almost at the end of the 20th century. Most likely, this happened at the suggestion of the Turks, who practice making shawarma in European cities - after all, poultry meat was cheaper.

How shawarma is served

By the way, the pursuit of the most economically affordable meat has done a disservice to this dish - today shawarma, like other fast food, is considered by specialists to be the most harmful food for the human body. And all because the so-called Bush legs were most often purchased for street shawarma. These chicken parts were not only the cheapest, but also the fattest.

Meanwhile, shawarma, cooked according to all the rules of culinary art and from quality products, does not harm the bodybears.

Vegetables for shawarma

The most common vegetables for this dish are tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage. But in each region, since the spread and popularity of shawarma, its own innovations have appeared. In lavash, along with meat, not only slices of fresh cucumbers and tomatoes can be wrapped, but also chopped lettuce, pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and Korean-style carrots.


For wrapping meat and vegetables for shawarma, lavash or pita were traditionally used. However, in the southern countries of Europe, focaccia (or focaccia) successfully copes with this function. This is a thin, yeast-free tortilla used by Italians to make pizza. By the way, it is also baked with yeast - then it turns out magnificent - however, such focaccia is no longer for shawarma.

Did you know…

In Lebanon and other countries of the Middle East, it is not customary to cook shawarma in street tents. A person, of course, can buy it, take it with him and eat it while sitting in a car, but the preparation of the dish itself requires compliance with sanitary and hygienic rules that are impossible in street stalls. Moreover, such fast food outlets are usually installed in crowded places - at stations, markets or near stadiums and parks.

It took the meat of seven cows to prepare the largest shawarma in the world (1198 kg). It was prepared in Ankara and subsequently entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Beautiful girl and shawarma

In 2015, photos of girls eating shawarma gained immense popularity on social networks. They posted ingroups under the general name "Beautiful girls and shawarma". It shouldn't come as a surprise, of course, that bands called Handsome Guys and Shawarma later sprang up.

Aphorisms about shawarma

As usual, the most popular always gives rise to jokes and well-aimed statements among the people. Stories about shawarma began to appear when many tents were set up in Russia to produce and sell this dish. Shawarma, made in haste in places where unsanitary conditions reigned, aroused legitimate suspicions as a product offered to the people. There were even rumors that shawarma is made from the meat of stray dogs and cats. They still appear from time to time. And here are some of the folk aphorisms:

If you look at the shawarma for a long time, the shawarma starts to peer at you.

Shawarma disguised as food gets inside the victim…

Shawarma is not something that allows you not to die of hunger, but something that allows you not to die hungry.

We talked about the history of the creation and emergence of shawarma, we hope you find the information useful.

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