If you’ve eaten lamb shawarmas from a Mediterranean restaurant, you might think they’re too complicated to make at home. I’m here to convince you otherwise! Every component of these pita bread sandwiches is simple to make and delicious on its own, but combine them and you’ll have a spectacularly delicious meal.
Imagine your own homemade pita bread, warm from the oven, stacked high with crunchy lettuce, silky homemade tzatziki sauce, sweet tangy pickled red onions, tender slices of cumin lamb and creamy feta. Is your mouth watering yet?
I love the versatility of lamb shawarma components; serve each item separately and let everyone build their own creation. Some people will tear off a bite of pita bread and top it with tzatziki sauce and a sprinkle of pickled red onion. Their next bite might be pita bread topped with lamb and feta. Or they’ll skip the pita bread and wrap lamb, tzatziki and pickled onions in a big lettuce leaf. You get the idea: anything goes. And some creamy white bean hummus would be at home in this spread too.
To prepare this meal easily, you need a game plan. (All required recipes are below.)
One day before:
- Make your pita bread dough (10-15 minutes) and refrigerate overnight to rise.
- Strain yogurt and cucumbers overnight for your tzatziki sauce. (10 minutes)
- Make quick pickled red onions. (5 minutes)
The day of:
- Roll out and bake pita breads. (15-20 minutes) Note: Let covered dough come to room temperature before rolling it out.
- Finish making tzatziki sauce. (5 minutes)
- Prepare Easy Cumin Lamb. (25 minutes)
- Make White Bean Hummus (optional but recommended!) (5-10 minutes)
If you've eaten lamb shawarmas from a Mediterranean restaurant, you might think they're too complicated to make at home. I'm here to convince you otherwise! Every component of these pita bread sandwiches is simple to make and delicious on its own, but combine them and you'll have a spectacularly delicious meal.
One Day Ahead:
If making homemade pita bread, make dough and refrigerate.
Drain yogurt and cucumber as directed in steps 1 and 2 of Tzatziki recipe.
Make Quick Pickled Red Onions.
The Day Of:
Roll out and bake pita breads as instructed in recipe.
Finish Tzatziki sauce.
Prepare Easy Cumin Lamb.
To Assemble Lamb Shawarmas:
Place one lettuce leaf on a pita bread. Spread with a generous amount of tzatziki and top with several rings of pickled red onion. Top with 1/4 of the cumin lamb and sprinkle with 1/4 of the feta cheese. Repeat with remaining pita breads and serve.
If you've wondered how to make homemade pita bread, this is it! Follow this super simple pita bread recipe and you'll have toasty warm, perfectly puffed pitas to stuff with your favorite sandwich ingredients, dip into hummus or roll into a gyro or shawarma.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 272 g
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour 108 g
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine all ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low until all dry ingredients are moistened and comes together in to a shaggy dough. Increase speed to medium and knead for 8 minutes until dough is smooth. Remove dough from hook and shape into a ball. Rub ball on all sides with olive oil and return to mixing bowl. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days. Bring dough to room temperature before shaping.
When ready to bake, place baking stone or heavy baking sheet in cold oven and pre-heat to 475°F.
Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disc and, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into an 8-inch diameter circle. (As you work with one, keep remaining pieces covered with a clean towel or plastic wrap.)
Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you'll bake 2 to 4 pitas at a time. Spritz pitas lightly with water and transfer directly to baking stone or sheet. Bake 2 minutes, until puffed and lightly brown. Flip and bake 1 minute more. Remove and allow oven to come to full temperature before baking the next batch. Repeat with remaining dough.
Serve hot or store in an airtight bag for a few days or freeze baked pitas to use within a month or two. Reheat in oven or in a skillet on the stovetop.
- Please note that total time does not include dough rising time.
- If you don't have a stand mixer or prefer to mix by hand, stir ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and transfer to lightly floured work surface. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until smooth and follow remaining instructions.
- You can also cook these in a skillet, one at a time, over medium-high heat on the stovetop - be sure that the skillet gets fully reheated between pitas.
Tzatziki (pronounced zat-ZEE-key) is a classic Greek garlic-yogurt sauce made with strained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and salt. It often has fresh lemon juice along with a generous amount of mint or dill and is served as an appetizer (‘meze’ if you’re in the Mediterranean) with fresh pita or vegetables for dipping, or as a dip for grilled meats like chicken and lamb. It also works wonderfully as a spread for shawarmas or gyros (both pita or flatbread sandwiches).
- 2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
Strain yogurt mixture by pouring into a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth set over an empty container to catch liquid as it drains (about 1 cup of liquid will drain). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Shred cucumber and place in a fine mesh strainer set over an empty container to catch liquid as it drains (a few tablespoons of liquid will drain). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium bowl, stir strained yogurt, drained cucumber and remaining ingredients (salt through garlic). Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more to meld flavors. Serve chilled.
Quick Pickled Red Onions
If you love pickled red onions, you've got to try this quick and easy recipe - just 5 minutes of active time. Many pickled onion recipes call for sugar, but these are honey sweetened - it gives them an extra depth of flavor.
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Place onion in a bowl (ideally with a lid).
Whisk together water, vinegar, honey and salt until honey and salt are dissolved; pour over onion and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Don't worry if some of the onion sticks out of the brine. In a few hours, the onion will soften and be covered in brine. I like to stir it once or twice during the initial pickling period to coat the onion evenly.
Easy Cumin Lamb
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 pound boneless lamb leg thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large white onion thinly sliced
- 1 bunch green onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- 1 cup cilantro coarsely chopped
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Coarsely grind toasted spices in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Mix with salt and chili flakes.
Add spice mixture to sliced lamb and toss to coat evenly.
Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat until hot. Add oil and when it just starts to smoke, add onions. Cook and stir about 2 minutes until the edges are translucent. Transfer onions to a bowl.
Add lamb with spices to the wok; cook and stir until meat starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add green onions, garlic, soy sauce and wine; bring to simmer. Cook and stir 2 minutes more or until lamb is just cooked through. Add onions and stir to combine. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Transfer to platter and serve.