Turkey Shawarma

This shawarma has got it all: spice, brightness, and turkey.
December 1, 2016, 2:31pm
Turkey Shawarma Recipe
Photo by Daisy Meager.

Servings: 8

Prep: 1 hour

Total: 6 hours


for the shawarma spice mix:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspooon paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne

½ teaspoon sumac

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground clove

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

for the shawarma turkey thigh:

60 ml olive oil


2 garlic cloves, minced

2 lemons, juiced

1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

1 onion, thinly sliced

8 large turkey thighs (about 1 kg), boned and skinned

for the quick pickled cucumber salsa:

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon crème fraiche

for the tahini gravy:

500 ml homemade light gravy (made from chicken stock)

250 ml raw tahini

30 ml soy sauce

20 ml maple syrup

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the blackened chili sauce:

150 ml vegetable oil

½ teaspoon ground cumin

6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

6 green chillies, blackened on the grill

1 bunch coriander

seeds from 4 cardamom pods

kosher salt, to taste

for the herb salad:

½ bunch parsley, picked leaves

½ bunch dill, picked leaves

handful of picked mint

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sumac

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for serving:

8 large pita breads

fresh lemon juice

olive oil, for drizzling


1. Make the shawarma spice mix and marinate the turkey leg: Mix all the shawarma spice ingredients in a large bowl, then add in the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, coriander, and onion. Add the turkey thighs and toss to combine. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

2. Make the cucumber salsa: Salt the sliced cucumber, place in a colander in a sink, cover with cling-film and use a heavy weight to press the cucumber so as to extract the water from the cucumber. Leave for at least 2 hours. Wash the cucumber under running water to remove excess salt and then place atop kitchen cloth and pat dry. Place the cucumber in a bowl and add all of the remaining ingredients, allowing at least 30 minutes for the salsa to marinate.


3. Make the tahini gravy: Combine the light homemade gravy, tahini, soy sauce, and maple syrup in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, whisking well to incorporate. Cook until thickened to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Make the blackened chili sauce: Combine all of the ingredients for the blackened chilli sauce in a blender and run continuously until a smooth sauce-like consistency is achieved.

5. Make the herb salad: Combine all of the herbs together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper just before serving.

6. Light a grill. Cook the turkey thighs over direct heat, turning regularly, until a thermometer inserted reaches 165°F. Transfer the thighs to a tray or rack and allow to rest for a few minutes before thinly slicing into suitably sized pieces. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

7. To assemble the dish, serve the turkey thigh inside a fresh pita, layered with the herb salad, drizzled tahini gravy, blackened chilli sauce, and pickled cucumber salsa. A final squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil over the top.