Homemade shawarma spice is that ingredient in your kitchen that you didn’t know you needed.
I’m in Ottawa, and that’s important, because we’re talking about shawarma today. Ottawa has been called the shawarma capital of the world (which seems a little rude to our friends in Lebanon, who gave us the delicious treat in the first place, after all). In any case, I do think it’s safe to say that the fine folks of Ottawa-Gatineau have a plethora of shawarma restaurants to choose from, and we know the good, the bad and the ugly.
Every city has what they lovingly term their drunk food. In Toronto, I hear it’s ramen. You see the clock strike 2(am) on a Friday night, and the 24-hour ramen places are packed with young people who are tipsy enough that the starchy, delicious noodles are their best friends. That’s how it is in Ottawa with shawarma.
But let me be clear: you don’t need to be tipsy to know that shawarma—and ramen, for that matter—are just plain delicious. And I’m not posting this homemade shawarma spice recipe to keep young’uns from partying. The whole idea is to make sure you can make amazing, delicious shawarma at home whenever you have that hankering!
Because of how important fair trade is, I strongly recommend using fair trade, organic spices from Cha’s Organics in this recipe. Not only are they better for people and the planet, they genuinely are the highest quality and deliver an absolutely amazing flavour.
And now onto the homemade shawarma spice!
Homemade shawarma spice (seasoning blend)
- Spice/coffee grinder or mortar & pestle for grinding
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns (see notes)
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1-1/2 tbsp whole clove (see notes)
- 1-1/2 tbsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (see notes)
- 2 tbsp ground nutmeg (see notes)
- 1 tbsp whole green cardamom pods (see notes)
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder (see notes)
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- Combine all of the spices in a spice/coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle, if you prefer) and grind until everything is mixed together well. Alternatively, grind the whole spices separately and add then the spices that are already ground, mixing everything together well.
- Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3/4 cup (about 12 servings of 1 tablespoon each).
To use the seasoning
- Per 1lb protein (meat, tofu, etc.), place 1 Tbsp seasoning and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a container (close to the size of the protein for the best marinading!). Add the protein, ensure the marinade covers it as best possible and let it marinate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Cook the protein by grilling or pan-frying for best results. Use in your favourite wrap!
- Whole black peppercorns are best because they impart a spicier taste when they’re freshly ground. My favourite peppercorns are Cha’s Organics’ whole peppercorns.
- Whole clove is not to be confused with garlic! It’s a spice that comes in little buds and is sometimes used in sweet dishes. You can also find it powdered, but I usually use Cha’s Organics’ whole clove in this recipe and grind it fresh with the other whole spices.
- Ceylon (a.k.a. true) cinnamon is so much better than what most stores sell. Most “cinnamon” in the market is actually a cheaper cousin of cinnamon called cassia. True/Ceylon cinnamon has a more complex and higher-quality flavour, and is identified on the label. The one I recommend is Cha’s Organics’ true cinnamon.
- Ground nutmeg is less pungent than freshly-grated nutmeg, so if you’re grating it fresh, use only about 1 tablespoon. I recommend Cha’s Organics nutmeg (whole or ground).
- Whole green cardamom pods are often used in Indian cuisine and can be found in some chai blends. Using the whole spice is going to give a better flavour than just the little black seeds, as it’s a milder and more complex flavour. The best pods I’ve found are Cha’s Organics’ whole cardamom.
- Chili powder is not the same as red chili flakes, cayenne pepper or any other super hot spice. Chili powder is actually quite mild, all things considered, and gives a lovely smokiness to things like chili con carne (hence the name). If you can’t find chili powder, try about half as much of red chili flakes (or about 1/4 the amount of cayenne pepper powder) and increase to taste in the next batch if you like it hotter.
What will you use this amazing spice blend for? Let us know in the comments!
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