If you’ve ever found yourself in a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant, chances are you’ve seen a menu featuring both chicken shawarma and gyro. At first glance, these two dishes might seem interchangeable – after all, they both involve spiced, marinated meat sliced off a vertical spit and served in pita bread – but upon closer inspection, there are some key differences between the two dishes.
What is Chicken Shawarma?
Chicken shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that typically consists of thin slices of marinated poultry, usually chicken, stacked on a spit and slowly roasted until tender and juicy. The chicken is then shaved off in thin slivers and wrapped in pita bread, along with a variety of toppings like pickles, tomatoes, onions, and sauces like tahini or garlic mayo.
Shawarma is believed to have originated in Turkey, where it was known as döner kebab. It then spread to other parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon, where it became known as shawarma. Today, it is a popular street food in many countries around the world, including the United States.
While chicken is the most common meat used in shawarma, other meats like beef, lamb, and even falafel can also be used. The marinade used to flavor the meat can vary depending on the region and the cook, but it often includes a blend of spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika.
What is Gyro?
Gyro, on the other hand, is a Greek dish that has some striking similarities to shawarma. Generally, gyro is made with lamb, beef, or pork, that is also stacked on a vertical spit and slowly roasted. The meat is then shaved off in thin slices and typically served in pita bread with toppings like tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.
However, unlike shawarma, gyro is seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices, including oregano, thyme, and rosemary, giving it a distinct flavor. Gyro is also commonly served with french fries inside the pita bread, adding a unique texture and taste to the dish. In Greece, gyro is a popular street food and can be found in almost every corner of the country. It has also gained popularity in other parts of the world, becoming a favorite among food enthusiasts and travelers alike.
The Origin of Chicken Shawarma
Chicken shawarma has its roots in the Levant, a region that includes countries like Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. While the origins of the dish are somewhat murky, shawarma is believed to have been developed as a way to cook meat slowly over the course of a day, given the lack of refrigeration in the region before the modern era.
Shawarma is a popular street food in the Middle East and is often served in a pita bread wrap with vegetables and a variety of sauces. The dish has gained popularity in other parts of the world, including Europe and North America, where it is often served in fast-food restaurants and food trucks.
While chicken shawarma is the most common variation of the dish, it can also be made with beef, lamb, or even turkey. The meat is typically marinated in a blend of spices and then roasted on a spit until it is tender and juicy. The result is a flavorful and satisfying dish that has become a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine.
The Origin of Gyro
Like shawarma, gyro also has a long history, dating back to ancient Greece. The dish was traditionally made with lamb or goat meat that was grilled on a spit over an open flame. Over time, the dish evolved to include other proteins like beef and pork, and it spread beyond Greece to become a popular street food in cities around the world.
Today, gyro is often served in a pita bread with tomatoes, onions, and a yogurt-based sauce called tzatziki. In Greece, it is typically served with french fries inside the pita. The popularity of gyro has led to variations of the dish, such as the gyro burger and gyro pizza. Despite its evolution, gyro remains a beloved dish that pays homage to its ancient Greek roots.
Ingredients used in Chicken Shawarma
While the exact ingredients used in chicken shawarma can vary from region to region and even restaurant to restaurant, the dish typically includes chicken that has been marinated in a blend of spices and seasonings like garlic, cumin, and paprika. Other common ingredients might include lemon juice, yogurt, and olive oil. The chicken is then typically served with a variety of toppings like pickles, tomatoes, onions, and sauces like tahini or garlic mayo.
Some variations of chicken shawarma may also include additional ingredients like sumac, turmeric, or cinnamon in the marinade. Some restaurants may also use different types of meat like lamb or beef instead of chicken. Additionally, the type of bread used to wrap the shawarma can also vary, with options like pita, lavash, or naan being popular choices. Regardless of the specific ingredients used, chicken shawarma is a flavorful and satisfying dish that is enjoyed by many around the world.
Ingredients used in Gyro
Gyro is typically made with pork, beef, or lamb that has been marinated in a blend of spices that may include garlic, oregano, and thyme. The meat is then cooked on a grill or spit until it’s crispy and charred on the outside and tender on the inside. Other common ingredients in gyro include tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce, which is made from yogurt, cucumber, and herbs like dill and mint.
Another popular ingredient in gyro is feta cheese, which is crumbled on top of the meat and vegetables. Feta cheese is a tangy and salty cheese that adds a unique flavor to the dish. Some variations of gyro also include french fries, which are added to the sandwich for a crunchy texture.
Gyro is a popular street food in Greece and is often served in a pita bread or wrapped in a flatbread. In some countries, gyro is also served as a platter with a side of rice or salad. Gyro has become a popular dish in many parts of the world and is often found in Greek and Mediterranean restaurants.
Nutritional Comparison between Chicken Shawarma and Gyro
When it comes to nutrition, both chicken shawarma and gyro can be relatively healthy choices, depending on how they’re prepared and what toppings they’re served with. In general, chicken shawarma tends to be a bit lower in calories and fat than gyro, thanks in part to the fact that it’s made with chicken instead of red meat. However, both dishes can be high in sodium, especially if they’re served with salty sauces or pickles.
It’s important to note that the nutritional content of chicken shawarma and gyro can vary greatly depending on the cooking method and ingredients used. For example, if the chicken shawarma is marinated in a high-fat sauce or the gyro is made with fatty cuts of meat, the calorie and fat content can increase significantly. Additionally, toppings like cheese and creamy sauces can add extra calories and fat to both dishes. To make a healthier choice, opt for grilled chicken shawarma or gyro made with lean cuts of meat and choose toppings like vegetables and hummus instead of high-fat sauces.
How to make Chicken Shawarma at home
Want to try your hand at making chicken shawarma at home? Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:
- Combine 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours) to let the flavors meld.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Thread the chicken onto skewers and place them on the wire rack.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken from the skewers and serve in pita bread with your favorite toppings.
How to make Gyro at home
If you’re in the mood for gyro, here’s a recipe to try:
- Combine 1 pound of ground lamb, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Shape the meat mixture into a long, thin loaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
- Remove the meat from the oven and slice it thinly.
- Place the meat slices in pita bread with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.
Popular toppings for Chicken Shawarma
When it comes to toppings for chicken shawarma, there are a variety of options to choose from. Some popular choices include:
- Tahini sauce
- Garlic mayo
Popular toppings for Gyro
Gyro also has a range of toppings to choose from, including:
- Tzatziki sauce
- Feta cheese
- Kalamata olives
Serving suggestions for Chicken Shawarma
Chicken shawarma is typically served in a pita bread, but it can also be enjoyed in a wrap or over a bed of rice. Some additional serving suggestions might include:
- Serve with a side of hummus or baba ghanoush
- Add some sliced avocado for extra creaminess
- Sprinkle with some fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley
Serving suggestions for Gyro
Gyro is usually served in a pita bread, but it can also be enjoyed in a wrap or as part of a salad. Here are some additional serving suggestions:
- Top with some crumbled feta cheese for extra tanginess
- Serve with a side of Greek salad or roasted vegetables
- Add some hot sauce or chili flakes for a spicy kick
Price comparison between Chicken Shawarma and Gyro
When it comes to price, both chicken shawarma and gyro can vary widely depending on where you live and where you’re buying them from. In general, chicken shawarma tends to be a bit cheaper than gyro, given the fact that it’s made with chicken instead of lamb or beef.
Regional variations of Chicken Shawarma
While chicken shawarma is a popular dish throughout the Middle East, different regions have their own unique twists on the dish. For example:
- In Turkey, shawarma is typically served in a flatbread called lavash, instead of pita bread.
- In Israel, shawarma is often served with hummus, pickles, and fried potatoes.
- In Lebanon, shawarma is sometimes served with a side of toum, a garlicky sauce made from garlic, oil, and lemon juice.
Regional variations of Gyro
Gyro has also undergone some regional variations over the years. Here are a few examples:
- In Greece, gyro is traditionally made with pork or lamb, while in other parts of the world, beef or chicken may be more popular.
- In Canada, it’s common to see gyro served on top of a bed of french fries, a dish known as “gyro poutine.”
- In the United States, gyro is sometimes served with a side of “Greek” salad made with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
Which one is healthier: Chicken Shawarma or Gyro?
When it comes to health, both chicken shawarma and gyro can be relatively healthy choices, provided they’re made with lean cuts of meat and served with plenty of fresh vegetables. In general, chicken shawarma tends to be a bit lower in fat and calories than gyro, thanks to the fact that it’s made with chicken instead of red meat.
Popularity of Chicken Shawarma vs Gyro in different countries
Both chicken shawarma and gyro are popular street foods around the world, but their popularity can vary from country to country. For example, chicken shawarma is a staple in many Middle Eastern countries, while gyro is more commonly associated with Greece and its diaspora.
Which one tastes better: Chicken Shawarma or Gyro?
Ultimately, the question of which dish tastes better, chicken shawarma or gyro, is largely a matter of personal preference. Some people might prefer the bold, spicy flavors of shawarma, while others might prefer the tangy, garlicky taste of gyro. Ultimately, the best way to find out which dish you prefer is to try them both!