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Learning how to make Shawarma


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#1 PeppersGalore

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 03:30 PM

I live in the UK and you see many eating establishments which offer Doner Kebabs etc.  I don't think these places have very nice food on offer.  I believe many of them buy in their meat 'sticks' which they then cook on a kind of spittle.   I did once see this guy make the meat 'stick' and that place is the best I've experienced of eating the Doner type of kebabs.  I also spent some time in Israel a few years ago and they too there had nicer Kebabs than we generally have here.  I would like to learn how to make these kinds of kebabs along with flafels.  Would it be possilb eto go say to the ME say Israel and pay somebody to teach one how to make these kinds of foods?  I can't imagine any of the establishments in the UK willing to take one on.  Maybe somebody here has some contacts or maybe some suggestions?  Thanks.



#2 EMG

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 06:40 PM

Hi PeppersGalore,

 

Shawarma is my favorite go-to take-out meal :) here's a few helpful links to start you up:

 

Recipes: http://www.spinningg...ma-recipes.html

How to assemble on a stick for a sinning griller:  

Garlic sauce recipe: http://allrecipes.co...e-garlic-sauce/ (although I think I have egg white in my recipe). This is a little tricky to make. The trick is to slowly mix in the oil.



#3 PeppersGalore

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Posted 02 September 2013 - 11:23 AM

Thank you EMG.  I think that really though one would need some experience working in an eatery of this nature.



#4 Nicolai

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 03:27 AM

Shawarma is different from Doner Kebabs. Both in type of meat, meat prep and seasoning.

 

Although the world at large seems to agree on allegedly Shawarma being of Turkish origin with the word "çevirme"which means turning.

I disagree with the origin and appellation as it sounds as a phonetic creation of "çevirme" spelled as Shawarma.

 

My take on it is that Shawarma is Levantine in origin and the name Shawarma is composed of two distinct words namely "Shawa" which means to grill on open fire and Kawarma which is a type of preserved meat in the Levant.

Hence Shawa + Kawarma became Shawarma.....but please feel free to disagree and go with the alleged Turkish version.

 

Now to the meat. The original recipe for Shawarma calls for Lamb meat + Lamb fat. You have to note that the Levant type of Lamb indigenous to countries like Syrian (as a side note, there was no Shawarma in Syria prior mid 70's), the Lamb have a Fat TAIL which is different from the other type of Lamb. And this is what moistens and adds taste and flavor to the meat.

As far as I am concerned, Shawarma is of Lebanese origin and the best of the best would be Abu Khodr and lately Barbar in Beirut.

 

Shawarma is cut meat + fat. Originally Lamb and now Beef. (There was no significant number of "beef" cattle in the Levant or Turkey where Lamb and Goat exist in higher number. As Shawarma is street food of relatively modest price, originally Lamb would be used and not Beef).

 

Doner is ground meat.

 

The seasoning is also different and Shawarma main spice is Cardamon and the marinate is Vinegar based. Not so with Doner.

There was not any Doner or Shawarma stands in the streets of Turkey, this came much later and adopted in Turkey as "traditional" street food!

Similar story for Falafel....etc

 

Shawarma as with all other food, is taking new roads and the Chicken versions started multiplying.

Here are two versions of Chicken. One is called Lebanese Chicken Shawarma and the red one is called Mexican Shawarma......go figure....

 

Separately, the Chicken so called original version is pounded chicken meat.......and the latest twist is Prawns Shawarma....the world moves in mysterious ways!

 

This is quite an elaborate subject, so I think I stop here but will answer any of your direct queries.

 

 

 

_DSC9915.jpg

 

 

 


muhamara.com

#5 Hassouni

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 07:37 AM

Shawarma is beyond a doubt from çevirme, Nicolai, just as (q)awarma is from Turkish kavurma. Also, Döner in Turkey is quite often constructed from whole pieces of meat vs ground meat.  Döner started in Turkey not as the vertical stack that it is now, but as the much older (19th century if not earlier) cağ kebabı, which is never made with ground meat (see below).

 

 

Personally, I prefer awarma....even over a Barbar shawarma (their strong point is lahme b'ajin and mashawi)

 

 

PeppersGalore, if you really want to take shawarma into the hard-balling league, grill it horizontally over charcoal, like what Turks call cağ kebabı.  There are a handful of places in the Levant too that do this.

 

Here's what it looks like:

 

sehzadecag.jpg


Edited by Hassouni, 03 September 2013 - 07:46 AM.


#6 wokkingtall

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 02:38 PM

Shawarma is different from Doner Kebabs. Both in type of meat, meat prep and seasoning.

 

Although the world at large seems to agree on allegedly Shawarma being of Turkish origin with the word "çevirme"which means turning.

I disagree with the origin and appellation as it sounds as a phonetic creation of "çevirme" spelled as Shawarma.

 

My take on it is that Shawarma is Levantine in origin and the name Shawarma is composed of two distinct words namely "Shawa" which means to grill on open fire and Kawarma which is a type of preserved meat in the Levant.

Hence Shawa + Kawarma became Shawarma.....but please feel free to disagree and go with the alleged Turkish version.

 

Now to the meat. The original recipe for Shawarma calls for Lamb meat + Lamb fat. You have to note that the Levant type of Lamb indigenous to countries like Syrian (as a side note, there was no Shawarma in Syria prior mid 70's), the Lamb have a Fat TAIL which is different from the other type of Lamb. And this is what moistens and adds taste and flavor to the meat.

As far as I am concerned, Shawarma is of Lebanese origin and the best of the best would be Abu Khodr and lately Barbar in Beirut.

 

Shawarma is cut meat + fat. Originally Lamb and now Beef. (There was no significant number of "beef" cattle in the Levant or Turkey where Lamb and Goat exist in higher number. As Shawarma is street food of relatively modest price, originally Lamb would be used and not Beef).

 

Doner is ground meat.

 

The seasoning is also different and Shawarma main spice is Cardamon and the marinate is Vinegar based. Not so with Doner.

There was not any Doner or Shawarma stands in the streets of Turkey, this came much later and adopted in Turkey as "traditional" street food!

Similar story for Falafel....etc

 

Shawarma as with all other food, is taking new roads and the Chicken versions started multiplying.

Here are two versions of Chicken. One is called Lebanese Chicken Shawarma and the red one is called Mexican Shawarma......go figure....

 

Separately, the Chicken so called original version is pounded chicken meat.......and the latest twist is Prawns Shawarma....the world moves in mysterious ways!

 

This is quite an elaborate subject, so I think I stop here but will answer any of your direct queries.

 

Interesting...

 

Could "Lebanese Chicken Shawarma" also be known as "Shish-Taouk"...?  I've often wondered what the difference was, if any.  Here in Montreal, that's what you would ask for if you wanted chicken.  If you ordered Shawarma, you would be getting beef.

 

Everywhere else I've been (ie, outside of Montreal) just calls it Chicken Shawarma or Beef Shawarma.

 

I'd be interested to know where the term shish taouk originated from (if anyone knows)



#7 Hassouni

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 04:54 PM

Interesting...

 

Could "Lebanese Chicken Shawarma" also be known as "Shish-Taouk"...?  I've often wondered what the difference was, if any.  Here in Montreal, that's what you would ask for if you wanted chicken.  If you ordered Shawarma, you would be getting beef.

 

Everywhere else I've been (ie, outside of Montreal) just calls it Chicken Shawarma or Beef Shawarma.

 

I'd be interested to know where the term shish taouk originated from (if anyone knows)

 

Shish Taouk (or Tawouq in good Arabic orthography) comes from Turkish "Tavuk şiş", chicken skewer.  Think Persian joojeh kabob. It is exactly what it sounds like, chicken pieces skewered and grilled. I don't know why in Montreal chicken shawarma is called taouq, but that's just a regional anomaly. Everywhere else a chicken shawarma is a "chicken shawarma"


Edited by Hassouni, 03 September 2013 - 04:55 PM.

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#8 Hassouni

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 08:23 AM

I remember the Hairy Bikers did an episode in Turkey where they assembled a whole döner spit (mostly using whole pieces of lamb)

 

Here it is:

 


Edited by Hassouni, 09 September 2013 - 08:25 AM.


#9 Nicholas Spyrou

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 08:21 AM

Shawarma is different from Doner Kebabs. Both in type of meat, meat prep and seasoning.
 
Although the world at large seems to agree on allegedly Shawarma being of Turkish origin with the word "çevirme"which means turning.
I disagree with the origin and appellation as it sounds as a phonetic creation of "çevirme" spelled as Shawarma.
 
My take on it is that Shawarma is Levantine in origin and the name Shawarma is composed of two distinct words namely "Shawa" which means to grill on open fire and Kawarma which is a type of preserved meat in the Levant.
Hence Shawa + Kawarma became Shawarma.....but please feel free to disagree and go with the alleged Turkish version.
 
Now to the meat. The original recipe for Shawarma calls for Lamb meat + Lamb fat. You have to note that the Levant type of Lamb indigenous to countries like Syrian (as a side note, there was no Shawarma in Syria prior mid 70's), the Lamb have a Fat TAIL which is different from the other type of Lamb. And this is what moistens and adds taste and flavor to the meat.
As far as I am concerned, Shawarma is of Lebanese origin and the best of the best would be Abu Khodr and lately Barbar in Beirut.
 
Shawarma is cut meat + fat. Originally Lamb and now Beef. (There was no significant number of "beef" cattle in the Levant or Turkey where Lamb and Goat exist in higher number. As Shawarma is street food of relatively modest price, originally Lamb would be used and not Beef).
 
Doner is ground meat.
 
The seasoning is also different and Shawarma main spice is Cardamon and the marinate is Vinegar based. Not so with Doner.
There was not any Doner or Shawarma stands in the streets of Turkey, this came much later and adopted in Turkey as "traditional" street food!
Similar story for Falafel....etc
 
Shawarma as with all other food, is taking new roads and the Chicken versions started multiplying.
Here are two versions of Chicken. One is called Lebanese Chicken Shawarma and the red one is called Mexican Shawarma......go figure....
 
Separately, the Chicken so called original version is pounded chicken meat.......and the latest twist is Prawns Shawarma....the world moves in mysterious ways!
 
This is quite an elaborate subject, so I think I stop here but will answer any of your direct queries.
 
 
 
_DSC9915.jpg

I own a vertical spit and I would like to know if I could make a beef shawarma using only beef and what cut of beef should I be using.
I have tried pork and that went great with my customers. I have tried the beef using my own recipe which I used for the pork and added mustard powder and white wine vinegar, but I haven't quite got the marinade right it is missing that great flavour. Also I am experimenting with the beef cuts I have used silverside and brisket but I have found them too dry. I am now using the pony of beef and knuckle of beef. Any suggestions please help.

#10 David Hensley

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Posted 08 January 2014 - 10:24 PM

 

Shawarma is different from Doner Kebabs. Both in type of meat, meat prep and seasoning.
 
Although the world at large seems to agree on allegedly Shawarma being of Turkish origin with the word "çevirme"which means turning.
I disagree with the origin and appellation as it sounds as a phonetic creation of "çevirme" spelled as Shawarma.
 
My take on it is that Shawarma is Levantine in origin and the name Shawarma is composed of two distinct words namely "Shawa" which means to grill on open fire and Kawarma which is a type of preserved meat in the Levant.
Hence Shawa + Kawarma became Shawarma.....but please feel free to disagree and go with the alleged Turkish version.
 
Now to the meat. The original recipe for Shawarma calls for Lamb meat + Lamb fat. You have to note that the Levant type of Lamb indigenous to countries like Syrian (as a side note, there was no Shawarma in Syria prior mid 70's), the Lamb have a Fat TAIL which is different from the other type of Lamb. And this is what moistens and adds taste and flavor to the meat.
As far as I am concerned, Shawarma is of Lebanese origin and the best of the best would be Abu Khodr and lately Barbar in Beirut.
 
Shawarma is cut meat + fat. Originally Lamb and now Beef. (There was no significant number of "beef" cattle in the Levant or Turkey where Lamb and Goat exist in higher number. As Shawarma is street food of relatively modest price, originally Lamb would be used and not Beef).
 
Doner is ground meat.
 
The seasoning is also different and Shawarma main spice is Cardamon and the marinate is Vinegar based. Not so with Doner.
There was not any Doner or Shawarma stands in the streets of Turkey, this came much later and adopted in Turkey as "traditional" street food!
Similar story for Falafel....etc
 
Shawarma as with all other food, is taking new roads and the Chicken versions started multiplying.
Here are two versions of Chicken. One is called Lebanese Chicken Shawarma and the red one is called Mexican Shawarma......go figure....
 
Separately, the Chicken so called original version is pounded chicken meat.......and the latest twist is Prawns Shawarma....the world moves in mysterious ways!
 
This is quite an elaborate subject, so I think I stop here but will answer any of your direct queries.
 
 
 
_DSC9915.jpg

I own a vertical spit and I would like to know if I could make a beef shawarma using only beef and what cut of beef should I be using.
I have tried pork and that went great with my customers. I have tried the beef using my own recipe which I used for the pork and added mustard powder and white wine vinegar, but I haven't quite got the marinade right it is missing that great flavour. Also I am experimenting with the beef cuts I have used silverside and brisket but I have found them too dry. I am now using the pony of beef and knuckle of beef. Any suggestions please help.

 

As a native-born American, with ZERO experience in this, I would love to not only hear even more questions, but more answers also, right or wrong!

I value the native input, as well as the outsider perspective with something like this! Anyone who has something to say about this is also free to contact me via PM, anytime...


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...


#11 Nicolai

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:07 PM

Nicholas Spyrou> Yes, you are right, Beef is dry, same as Chicken and same as Porc.

 

That is why the original meat is Lamb and not any lamb but the Fat Tail version indigenous to the Levant.

 

The Vinegar used is usually red Grape vinegar and not white and it acts as a tenderizer and preserve the meat.

I do however appreciate that White Vinegar will not affect the Porc and Chicken color.

 

The Original Lamb Shawarma is layered with fat which moistens the meat on the stick.

 

To avoid dry meat (Chicken - Porc - Beef) you should marinate for a longer period using whichever marinate you fancy as long as you have Red Vinegar and Cardamon pods in the marinate. By all means you can replace with Mustard Powder or Ginger...etc....but you will be departing from the original recipe. Basting continuously as well.

 

When the Lamb meat is sliced of the spit, the meat slivers fall on the base where the fat has collected and sometimes the addition of Tomatoes roasting on top of the spit, this helps keep the Shawarma moist and now I am hungry writing about it.

 

Lately, I had Fish Shawarma and Prawns Shawarma....It is nice but it is taking the Shawarma name a bit too far.

 

......and I do not remember seeing any Shawarma stand in Turkey prior to the 80's. Still, Turkey can claim the name as much as they claim the Baklawa name and for the little history, Turkish coffee was brought to Turkey by a Syrian couple and in fact Turkish coffee has nothing to do with Coffee.....unless they had Coffee beans plantations that they did not tell me about. Coffee originated from Yemen and Ethiopia and made it's way up the Middle East map.....Brazil was too far!

As a matter of fact, Coffee in Turkey pre 80's was pretty disgusting and we had to take our own coffee with us when visiting. Yuk!

 

What does coffee has to do with Shawarma? Ground teaspoon is added to the marinate to cover up for the Lamb stench if any.

 

While we are at it, it is worth mentioning that Arabic Coffee brewed in the pot on wood fire is the original preparation method.

 

But better have a separate thread about coffee lest the power that be take umbrage at the discussion


muhamara.com

#12 Hassouni

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 03:33 PM

Nicholas Spyrou> Yes, you are right, Beef is dry, same as Chicken and same as Porc.

 

That is why the original meat is Lamb and not any lamb but the Fat Tail version indigenous to the Levant.

 

The Vinegar used is usually red Grape vinegar and not white and it acts as a tenderizer and preserve the meat.

I do however appreciate that White Vinegar will not affect the Porc and Chicken color.

 

The Original Lamb Shawarma is layered with fat which moistens the meat on the stick.

 

To avoid dry meat (Chicken - Porc - Beef) you should marinate for a longer period using whichever marinate you fancy as long as you have Red Vinegar and Cardamon pods in the marinate. By all means you can replace with Mustard Powder or Ginger...etc....but you will be departing from the original recipe. Basting continuously as well.

 

When the Lamb meat is sliced of the spit, the meat slivers fall on the base where the fat has collected and sometimes the addition of Tomatoes roasting on top of the spit, this helps keep the Shawarma moist and now I am hungry writing about it.

 

Lately, I had Fish Shawarma and Prawns Shawarma....It is nice but it is taking the Shawarma name a bit too far.

 

......and I do not remember seeing any Shawarma stand in Turkey prior to the 80's. Still, Turkey can claim the name as much as they claim the Baklawa name and for the little history, Turkish coffee was brought to Turkey by a Syrian couple and in fact Turkish coffee has nothing to do with Coffee.....unless they had Coffee beans plantations that they did not tell me about. Coffee originated from Yemen and Ethiopia and made it's way up the Middle East map.....Brazil was too far!

As a matter of fact, Coffee in Turkey pre 80's was pretty disgusting and we had to take our own coffee with us when visiting. Yuk!

 

What does coffee has to do with Shawarma? Ground teaspoon is added to the marinate to cover up for the Lamb stench if any.

 

While we are at it, it is worth mentioning that Arabic Coffee brewed in the pot on wood fire is the original preparation method.

 

But better have a separate thread about coffee lest the power that be take umbrage at the discussion

 

Boy, there's a lot of mysteriously-derived bias here.

 

Turks don't really care what the Arabs call meat on a rotating spit, but be assured it certainly existed prior to the 1980s, at least as far back as the 19th century when İskender Efendi was creating in Bursa what has become known as İskender Kebabı. It's fairly well acknowledged that İskender modified the Eastern Anatolian cağ kebap,  (horizontal rather than vertical döner/shawarma) which therefore must go even further back in time. As for when it emerged in the Arab World, i have no idea.

 

Baklava (which, as an Iraqi I pronounce baqlawa*), is also an indisputably Turkish word (see here: http://en.wikipedia....ki/Baklava#Name). Within Turkey it's said to be made best in Antep, which is in the SE of Turkey, which has a heavy Arab population. So who knows, maybe baqlawa was perfected by Arabs in Antep. 

 

I'm not sure which "Syrian couple" brought coffee to Turkey, but how does Turkish coffee have nothing to do with coffee? You're right in that the dallah on the campfire, as done in the Arabian peninsula is the original coffee preparation. Turkish coffee is called "Turkish coffee" because the style of boiling powder-ground beans was invented in the Ottoman Empire, and it was in this form that coffee was introduced to Europe. At that time, anything Ottoman was referred to in Europe as "Turkish," whether or not this style was first developed in Damascus, Jerusalem, Urfa, İzmir, or İstanbul. At that time the Red Sea was an "Ottoman lake" so yes, there were coffee plantations in the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, these territories were lost and Turks took to drinking tea, which could be produced locally and cheaply.  Coffee subsequently became very expensive (it still is) and Nescafé had a hold on the coffee scene, much as it often does in places like Lebanon, where until recently it was the only option other than the more expensive "Turkish coffee." I'm not surprised coffee in Turkey was crappy in the 80s - Turkey was not doing well economically then and there probably wasn't much besides Nescafe.  

 

 

*I note my ethnicity to show that yes, I grew up speaking Arabic, but I'm also a longtime student of the region and of the three main regional languages (Arabic, Persian, and Turkish). I throw no personal bias in and respect proven and accepted facts, regardless of which "side" they favor.

 

 

As a native-born American,

 

Wow, you are from Indian American descent?

 

 

He obviously means he was born in the US, as was I. What else are those born in the US to be called?

And David, fire away with more questions!

 

 

 

Nicholas Spyrou, with regards to making shawarma, Nicolai is certainly right about the importance of sheep tail fat, which is probably not that easy to obtain outside the Middle East.  Shawarma has a HUGE propensity to dry out - this happens even at places like Barbar, which one would think knows what they're doing.  Serious layering of fat is key, but given the lack of tail fat in most of the world, perhaps using particularly fatty cuts of meat would suffice? This goes for beef as well as lamb - for beef, something really well marbled would probably work well.  

 

Shawarma sandwiches (which are wraps, by the way - Arabic bread is never used as a "pocket" from what I've seen) are also typically not served with greens and tomatoes, as falafel is, but rather just with some pickles and maybe hummus, not much else.  I would up the pickle quotient, add some tomatoes, and maybe use a sauce that wasn't hummus.  It may not be authentic, but I think it'd yield a tastier, less dry overall product - lately I've gone off "authentic" shawarma, the last several times I've had it in Lebanon I've been underwhelmed.


Edited by Hassouni, 13 January 2014 - 03:50 PM.


#13 wokkingtall

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:53 PM


Shawarma sandwiches (which are wraps, by the way - Arabic bread is never used as a "pocket" from what I've seen) are also typically not served with greens and tomatoes, as falafel is, but rather just with some pickles and maybe hummus, not much else.  I would up the pickle quotient, add some tomatoes, and maybe use a sauce that wasn't hummus.  It may not be authentic, but I think it'd yield a tastier, less dry overall product - lately I've gone off "authentic" shawarma, the last several times I've had it in Lebanon I've been underwhelmed.

 

 

More than bagels and (possibly) smoked meat, I would probably miss a good chicken shawarma (or shish taouq as I mentioned upthread) sandwich if I ever moved from Montreal.  Thanks to a large population of French-speaking Middle Easterners, there is a plethora of places to find shish taouq here - some better than others...

 

In general though, sandwiches here are not pockets either, but wraps.  If you asked for everything on it (all dressed), you would get: lettuce, tomatoes, pickled turnips, hummus and/or a very garlicky mayonnaise.  Some places might do coleslaw (non-creamy) in place of the lettuce.  Others do dill pickles instead of the turnips.  Some put the sandwich into a panini press after wrapping, some don't.

 

All this to say that the end product is certainly not dry....and it sounds like it's also not 100% authentic either...! :laugh:



#14 Hassouni

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:58 PM

chicken shawarma, which i guess is what montrealers call shish taouq, is always served with garlic mayo (more or less), sometimes with fries added in the wrap. But lettuce, tomato, pickled turnips, not so much. Shame, really.



#15 HungryC

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Posted 15 January 2014 - 02:38 PM

Back to the recipe:  I have watched a local restaurant's employees assemble a chicken schwarma "stack" in person.  Sections of deboned, seasoned, fatty chicken were layered around the spit's central spike.  The guy seemed to stagger the thick and thin sections of alternating layers as he built up the stack.  I have no idea if the stack was chilled or compressed before using, or whether it went immediately onto the roaster....but if you see the photo below, it is clearly deboned chicken (still with some significant fat and maybe a little skin)  in layers.  Hope this helps you toward your culinary goal.

schwarma.jpg