The Middle Eastern Version of Fast Food

The Middle Eastern Version of Fast Food

Fast food is sold all over the world, it is quick, cheap and easy to get when you’re in a hurry.  In the west when we think of fast food we think of burger restaurants selling burgers and fries that often don’t taste that great and leave you feeling even worse.  However in other parts of the world fast food can not only be flavorful but healthy as well.  Shawarma is the Middle Eastern contribution to fast food and it is delicious!  Now you can find shawarma restaurants all over the world offering up this quick and tasty treat.

What is Shawarma?

Shawarma is basically a sandwich, although that really doesn’t do it justice, it is far more delicious than a plain old sandwich.  It is a wrap made with pita bread although it can be made from a tortilla as well, and it is stuffed with  a good amount of meat and vegetables along with the traditional Arab sauces.  The meat used in traditional Shawarma can be chicken, beef, veal, mutton, lamb or turkey but never pork.  However if you are eating Shawarma outside of the Middle East it is likely to be made from either chicken or beef.

Cooking the Meat

No matter the type of meat that is used the cooking process is the same.  The meat is marinated in spices for hours first before being put onto a spit and slow roasted for hours making sure it is flavorful and tender.  As you order your Shawarma the meat is sliced right off the spit to be rolled up into the pita.  It is always fresh and hot.  Here is a look at how it is cooked.

Serving the Shawarma

In addition to the spicy meat found in Shawarma there are also a variety of sauces you put on it to make it even more delicious.  Often chili sauce, vinegar or mayonnaise can be added, but many prefer it with the traditional Arab sauces like hummus and/or tahini.  Vegetables like, onion, tomato, cucumber, turnip or tabouli salad are also added to the Shawarma and you can add any or all of them depending on your preference.

The next time that you are in a hurry and you’re starving, instead of grabbing another burger that tastes like cardboard you might want to try Shawarma instead.  You can have a healthy and tasty meal that is both quick and far healthier than typically greasy fast food fare.

Tips for Dining in a Middle Eastern Restaurant

Tips for Dining in a Middle Eastern Restaurant

If you’re a food lover who has never dined at a Middle Eastern Restaurant, it is every bit as much a cultural experience as it is a food experience.  Dining in an Arabic restaurant may be a bit different than what you are used to but it can be an incredible experience if you are open to it. If it is your first time then here are some tips for dining in a Middle Eastern restaurant.

Try Some of the Traditional Dishes

Most restaurants will offer some of the more traditional dishes that you will find across the region.  Some of the dishes you want to try will be Briyani, a mixed rice dish served alongside chicken, lamb or beef.  It is made with basmati rice and lots of Middle Eastern spices.  If you are looking for a meat dish to go with your Briyani then you might want to try kebabs.  Kebabs have spiced meat on a skewer either by itself or with vegetables.  You can have them with almost any kind of meat, however in the Middle East they will be made with lamb.   To finish the meal you’re going to want to try Baklava, a succulent sweet pastry filled with pistachios and other chopped nuts.

Take in the Atmosphere

Middle Eastern restaurants typically go for a degree of authenticity so you’re going to find some of the traditional décor from the area.  You will find warm colors that represent the desert and soft lighting.  This is meant to give you a little slice of the Middle East and create a more authentic dining experience.

The Drinks

Alcohol is not part of the Middle Eastern culture so no one is going to recommend a good wine to complement your dinner, in fact alcohol probably won’t be on the menu.  They will serve several different types of tea and the choice of sparkling (mineral) or still water.

Try a Bit of Everything

If your party has never eaten this type of cuisine before then you might want to try a bit of everything.  Order a heap of appetizers that you can all share and it will give you the traditional snacks that you would find in the Arab world.  Ask your server for recommendations they are more than happy to share some of their personal favorites with guests.

Dining at a Middle Eastern restaurant is an incredible experience offering a wide variety of flavors and dishes that will satisfy even the pickiest of palates.