Leah is a follower of the 21-Day Fix. She works in mental health.
I traveled to Israel for the first time last month. The scenery, people, and culture are so vibrant and warm. And the food! I've always been somewhat familiar with some Israeli foods, since my father lived there many years ago. We've incorporated Israeli salad (diced tomatoes and cucumbers with a sprinkle of kosher salt and a dash of extra virgin olive oil) into dinners for as long as I could remember, and I'm a huge fan of falafel, but I had no idea what I was in for.
We traveled around the whole country, and the first thing I noticed is that a variety of salads are served with every meal (even breakfast). The foods are all fresh and most are fairly clean. The food is spiced very nicely and the meals were always flavorful. While falafel is still my favorite Israeli food, it's hard to find clean falafel (it's normally fried). So I took matters into my own hands and made a shawarma dish.
What Is Shawarma?
Shawarma is a term that refers to seasoned, roasted meat on a spit that is shaved off when a person orders. Since I don't have a spit at my house, I had to get creative. I had forgotten to defrost the turkey, so I threw everything into my instant pot. 25 minutes later, dinner was ready to go. The shawarma I had in Israel was served with pita, fresh salad, and hummus. However, there's currently an E. Coli scare for romaine lettuce, so I had to leave that out.
Let's talk about shawarma seasonings. I'm fortunate to live near Manhattan, so there's nearly everything you could ever want in a one-hour radius. There's a kosher supermarket about 45 minutes away where we stock up on meat and poultry, as well as other delicacies you can't find in a regular supermarket. Not only did I manage to find a bottle of shawarma spice seasoning, they had cut-up chicken and turkey thighs that were already marinated in shawarma seasoning! Your local supermarket probably won't have it, but if there's a Middle Eastern market near you, that's your best bet. If not, there's a bunch of recipes online to make your own shawarma spice.
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- 1 pound chicken or turkey, diced and marinated
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 (10-12 oz) bags cauliflower rice, or brown rice
- 1 large or 3 small cucumbers
- 1-2 tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon shawarma seasoning
- 1 and 1/3 cup hummus
- Season the poultry with shawarma spices (if you can't find it already marinated). Let it marinate for about 10-20 minutes.
- Once it's marinated, add the chicken stock, brown rice (if you're using rice), and marinated poultry to your instant pot. Close it up and make sure the vent is closed. Set for 15 minutes.
- While the instant pot is doing it's thing, peel the cucumber and dice the cucumber and tomato. Set aside.
- Microwave the cauliflower rice as per directions on the bag.
- When the instant pot is done, use the quick release method. If you're using cauliflower rice, place 1/4 of it on the plate. Otherwise, take 1/4 of the instant pot mixture and plate it.
- Top with 1/4 of the diced cucumber and tomato, and place 1/3 of a cup of hummus on the side. Enjoy!
If you're making this without an instant pot, strongly consider getting one! I've included a link below to Amazon, where you can purchase the one that I use.
- Make sure the poultry is defrosted. Marinate it with shawarma seasoning for 10-20 minutes.
- Cook brown rice and/or cauliflower rice as directed on the packaging.
- Place the turkey or chicken into a skillet and cook it on medium heat until there is no pink remaining (about 15 minutes).
- Dice cucumber and tomato, and plate everything as listed above.
When I made this recipe, I didn't have enough cauliflower rice for 4 servings, so I did half cauliflower rice and half brown rice. The container counts for the recipe using both cauliflower rice and brown rice are as follows:
- 1 red container
- 1 blue container
- 2 green containers
- 1 yellow container
If you use only cauliflower rice, you can count 3 green containers, or just use a little less. If you use only brown rice, be sure to count that as well.
Swaps and Substitutions
As with almost all of my recipes, the swaps and substitutions are endless. Here's some ideas I came up with:
- Protein. I've tried this with both turkey and chicken thighs, and both came out great. This can also be done with chicken (or turkey) breast, beef, ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or ground pork (if you don't keep kosher).
- Vegetarian/vegan options. If you aren't a meat eater, don't fret! This can also be made with your favorite meat substitute. I'd suggest Gardein beefless ground or even tofu, since I think those options would work well with the flavor profile.
- Vegetables. Shawarma usually comes with some salad, so any salad ingredients would fit nicely. Lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and onions are the most common, but get creative! Try spinach instead of lettuce, or some broccoli or cauliflower florets. Riced broccoli is another swap you could try.
- Carbohydrates. If you're keeping it low-carb, skip the rice altogether. Honestly, I couldn't tell where the brown rice ended and the cauliflower rice began. I've become accustomed to both cauliflower rice and brown rice, but you could swap those out for any kind of rice that you prefer, or skip the rice and eat it with a pita, street-food style. You could even serve it in a tortilla and make a burrito-style wrap out of this. If none of these sound good to you, try it over some potatoes or just skip the extra carbs altogether!
- Toppings. Here's another place to get creative. Like your food spicy? Add some hot sauce, chili powder, or even harissa to give this a kick. Want something more authentic? Add some tahini to the hummus and pour over the food. Try some sliced black olives over the top. I found this recipe to be flavorful, but if you like a really bold flavor, add some of your favorite seasonings. Most of the food we had in Israel had some parsley in it as well, so maybe give that a shot.
What Do You Think?
© 2018 Leah