If you are a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, then you must have come across two popular dishes – Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs. Both dishes are highly regarded and loved by Middle Eastern cuisine lovers and are often served in restaurants and street vendors worldwide. However, some people still get confused about the difference between the two dishes. In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of chicken shawarma vs chicken kebabs, their origins, differences in preparation, nutritional content, flavor variations, regional differences, best pairing sides, and where to find the best places to eat Chicken Shawarma or Kebabs.
What are Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs?
To start, let’s define what exactly chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs are. Chicken Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish made from sliced meat layered on a spit and roasted on a vertical rotisserie. The seasoned meat is then shaved off the spit and served in a wrap with vegetables, sauces, and condiments. On the other hand, Chicken Kebabs are skewered marinated chicken pieces grilled over an open flame. They are usually served with rice, pita bread, salads, and a variety of sauces.
Both chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs are popular dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine and have gained popularity worldwide. In recent years, there has been a rise in the popularity of street food, and chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs have become a go-to option for many. These dishes are not only delicious but also a great source of protein. Additionally, they are versatile and can be customized to suit individual preferences by adding or removing certain ingredients.
Origins of Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
The origins of these two dishes can be traced back hundreds of years. Chicken Kebabs are believed to have originated in the Middle East, specifically in Persia (now known as Iran) due to the strong influence of skewered meats and grilling in Persian cuisine. Chicken Shawarma, on the other hand, is a Levantine dish that originated in the eastern Mediterranean region. The dish is believed to have been inspired by Turkish doner kebab, which was introduced to the region by Ottoman Turks during the 19th century.
Both Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs have become popular dishes around the world, with variations and adaptations to suit different tastes and cultures. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards healthier eating, and both dishes are seen as a good source of protein and nutrients. Additionally, many restaurants and food trucks have started offering vegetarian and vegan versions of these dishes, using plant-based proteins such as tofu or seitan as a substitute for chicken.
Differences in Preparation between Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
Both dishes require marination, but chicken kebabs need longer marination time compared to shawarma. Moreover, chicken kebabs are made with cubed or sliced chicken that is marinated in yogurt or spices before being skewered and grilled over an open flame. On the other hand, chicken shawarma is prepared by stacking thinly-sliced marinated chicken on a rotisserie before being roasted until tender. The meat is shaved off the spit, and the process is repeated until all the meat is cooked.
Another difference between the two dishes is the way they are served. Chicken kebabs are often served with a side of rice or vegetables, while chicken shawarma is typically served in a pita bread with vegetables and a sauce such as tahini or garlic sauce. Additionally, chicken shawarma can also be served as a platter with rice and salad on the side.
Nutritional Content Comparison of Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
Chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs have nutritionally similar macronutrient profiles, with both dishes being high in protein and low in fat. However, chicken kebabs are slightly lower in calories since grilling removes some of the fat content. Chicken Shawarma, on the other hand, may be high in sodium due to the seasoning and use of condiments like tahini or garlic sauce. Bowls and platters are healthier options since they remove the wrap.
It is important to note that the nutritional content of chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs can vary depending on the preparation method and ingredients used. For example, if the chicken is marinated in a high-fat sauce or cooked in oil, the fat content and calorie count will increase. Additionally, the type and amount of vegetables and sauces used in the dish can also impact its overall nutritional value. It is always a good idea to check the ingredients and nutritional information before ordering or preparing these dishes to make informed choices about your diet.
Texture, Flavor, and Aroma Differences in Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
When it comes to texture and flavor, chicken kebabs tend to be more tender and have a smoky flavor due to the grilling process. They have a crispy exterior and juicy interior, and the marinade infuses every bite with flavors of the spices and herbs used. Chicken shawarma, on the other hand, has a distinctive tangy and slightly sour flavor due to the use of vinegar or lemon juice in the marinade. The texture is unique, with crispy edges and tender meat pulled from the spit with each bite.
Another difference between chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs is the way they are served. Chicken kebabs are often served on skewers, making them easy to eat as a finger food. They are also commonly served with a side of rice or vegetables. Chicken shawarma, on the other hand, is typically served in a wrap or pita bread, with toppings such as hummus, tahini, and pickled vegetables.
Additionally, the aroma of chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs can differ. Chicken kebabs have a strong, smoky aroma that comes from the grilling process. Chicken shawarma, on the other hand, has a distinct aroma from the spices and herbs used in the marinade, such as cumin, coriander, and paprika. The aroma of chicken shawarma is often described as warm and inviting, making it a popular street food in many countries.
Regional Variations of Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
Both chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs have regional variations within the Middle East. For instance, shawarma in Lebanon is commonly made with beef or lamb in a slightly different marinade than the chicken version. Similarly, in Afghanistan, Kebabs are made with lamb, beef, and chicken. In Iraq, kebabs might be made with a mix of chicken, lamb, and beef and flavored uniquely through spicing techniques. In Iran, Kebabs are served with seasoned rice, grilled tomatoes and a lemon wedge to enhance the dish’s deliciousness.
In Turkey, chicken shawarma is often served with a side of yogurt sauce and pickled vegetables, while in Egypt, it is common to add tahini sauce and fresh parsley to the dish. In Israel, chicken shawarma is often served in a pita bread with hummus, pickles, and salad.
Chicken kebabs in Pakistan are often marinated in yogurt and spices, and served with naan bread and chutney. In Saudi Arabia, kebabs are often served with a side of Arabic bread and a tomato and cucumber salad. In Jordan, kebabs are often served with a side of tabbouleh salad and a garlic yogurt sauce.
Popular Ingredients Used in Making Chicken Shawarma and Chicken Kebabs
Chicken Shawarma features a unique blend of spices and aromatics that give the dish its perfect flavor and aroma. The marinade contains ingredients such as cumin, cardamom, paprika, garlic, coriander, and cinnamon. Lemon juice is also a key ingredient, which provides a balanced amount of sourness to the dish. Chicken Kebabs, on the other hand, have a more subdued marinade with yoghurt, oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, and spices like paprika and cumin. Generally, chicken shawarma has a more robust flavor while chicken kebabs are milder.
Aside from the marinade, the type of chicken used in these dishes also affects the overall taste and texture. Chicken shawarma is typically made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which are more flavorful and tender compared to chicken breasts. On the other hand, chicken kebabs can be made with either chicken thighs or chicken breasts, depending on personal preference.
Another factor that contributes to the popularity of these dishes is the way they are served. Chicken shawarma is usually wrapped in a pita bread with vegetables and sauces like tahini or garlic sauce. Chicken kebabs, on the other hand, are often served on skewers with grilled vegetables and a side of rice or salad. Both dishes are perfect for a quick and satisfying meal, whether you’re on-the-go or enjoying a leisurely lunch or dinner.
How to Make Authentic Chicken Shawarma at Home
If you want to experience the rich flavors of Chicken Shawarma at home, there’s no better way than to make it yourself. First, marinate boneless chicken thighs in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and spices for two hours. Then layer the marinated chicken onto skewers and cook it over a grill or in the oven. When the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the skewers and serve with your desired toppings and condiments. To wrap it up, place some chicken shawarma and toppings in a warmed pita bread and fold it like a burrito.
How to Make Mouthwatering Chicken Kebabs at Home
The marinade is what makes chicken kebabs delicious, and the longer the marination, the better it tastes. Begin by marinating boneless chicken pieces in yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and spices for at least four hours or overnight. Skewer the marinated chicken and grill on high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Turn the chicken over and grill for another five minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve chicken kebabs with rice and veggies as sides, and don’t forget to drizzle some sauce to add extra flavor to the dish.
Health Benefits of Eating Chicken Shawarma and Kebabs
Both chicken shawarma and kebabs are high in protein, making them perfect for those who want to build their muscles and maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, the herbs, spices, and vegetables used in Middle Eastern cuisine have healing and medicinal properties. For example, Garlic is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to boost the immune system. Similarly, Chickpeas, peppers, and tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and other essential nutrients required for a healthy diet.
Which is Healthier: Chicken Shawarma or Chicken Kebabs?
In general, both dishes are healthy provided they are prepared without excessive oil or salt. However, chicken kebabs are lower in calories and generally healthier than chicken shawarma. But the nutrient profile of chicken shawarma makes it a better alternative than fast food options. As with any food, moderation is key. You can opt to have lean meat and try swapping the wrap for a salad bowl or sliced bread to reduce carb content.
Where to Find the Best Places to Eat Chicken Shawarma or Kebabs
It can be quite challenging to pinpoint one specific restaurant or vendor as the best place to enjoy either chicken shawarma or kebabs since both dishes are so popular worldwide. You can however, check Google or Yelp ratings and reviews to find highly rated restaurants or look for recommendations online within local groups or from acquaintances.
A Guide to Pairing Sides with your Favorite Middle Eastern Dish
When it comes to pairing sides with chicken shawarma or kebabs, the options are endless. Some popular sides include freshly made hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, fattoush salad, or falafel. Others, such as Tahini sauce, Zhoug, or garlic sauce, can add a depth of flavour to both dishes. In addition, many Middle Eastern cuisine lovers recommend having a hot cup of mint tea with your meal.
In conclusion, both chicken shawarma and chicken kebabs are excellent choices for Middle Eastern food lovers. Each dish has its unique taste and characteristics, from flavor to aroma and texture. Whether you prefer one dish over the other, the nutritional benefits cannot be overlooked. Also, remember to choose reputable restaurants and vendors if dining out and do not forget to experiment with various side dishes to discover your ideal scrumptious meal combination.