Time to find out which of these Turkish treats are naughty or nice – Lamb Shawarma and Chicken Shish.
Naughty – Lamb Shawarma
This snack shares a lot in common with the Doner Kebab. Like the kebabs, A huge column of lamb turns slowly on a vertical spit, roasting slowly, and thin shavings are sliced off and served in a flatbread or wrap.
Grilling is a generally a low-fat cooking method, but not so in this case. The big hunk of lamb on the spit is created from pieces of spice rubbed or marinated meat interspersed with slivers of fat to keep it moist. More fat can be poured over as the meat cooks – otherwise such a long, slow roasting method could make it dry and tough.
Your meat ends up deliciously moist, but the flip side is that its fat content is boosted – and lamb is relatively high in fat to start with.
You don’t get too huge a serving of meat in a shawarma wrap, this isn’t as ‘naughty’ as a lot of similar takeaways.
Remember that red meat can be a good way to get protein, iron and zinc. You can also boost your wrap’s nutrition credentials with your extras – common dressings for a lamb shawarma wrap include hummus (made from chickpeas), tahini (made from sesame seeds) or pickles. Hummus and tahini are both enriched with generous amounts of olive oil, so they’re high in fat and calories, but the fat is the ‘good’ unsaturated kind.
For maximum nutrition, ask for as much salad as they can fit in your wrap.
Nice – Chicken Shish Kebab
Chicken Shish is Lamb Shawarma’s well behaved little sister. But she’s certainly not boring – cubes of lean chicken (very low-fat) are marinated in a mix of yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and cayenne – which is then threaded on skewers and grilled.
The yoghurt and lemon tenderise the chicken and keep it moist, and – combined with the garlic and spices – make a fantastic flavour combination.
If you’re eating shish taouk, it’s traditionally served with tabbouleh (bulghur grain salad), hummus, and pita.
Like lamb shawarma, it can be served in a wrap or flatbread, so you can make it into a substantial meal with these healthy extras. Just watch the hummus and tahini if you’re watching your weight – they’re high in calories.
Your chicken shish might also include yoghurt. If it does, go for it. As well as being another good protein source, yogurt is also high in calcium, needed for healthy bones. Lovely.