I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

In Search of: Shawarma At Home

When I lived in Chicago there was this great Middle Eastern joint around the corner from my apartment. We always used to go there and eat. Most of the recipes were actually Turkish I think. If you are ever at Diversey and Broadway, walk about 1/2 block north on Broadway and you'll see a place called Cousin's. That is the place.

The decor is really neat. If you want you can sit on pillows and eat at a low sitting table.

There was this time we were in there eating and these rich kids came in. They were hardly kids - they were in their late 20's and early 30's - but their attitudes about things were completely juvenile. One kept talking about wanting to go volunteer in Hawaii so she could hike for a couple weeks. None of them had any worries about money and you could tell by the completely bizarre and unrealistic conversations taking place. Most of the talk was about getting Kate Spade bags etc. We are still laughing at them.

So that brings me to my favorite thing on Cousin's menu - Turkish Doner.

That looks a lot like gyro meat doesn't it? I think the gyros that we get in the US are made from ground up lamb that the press together with a bunch of spices. Turkish Doner is the Turkish version of gyros. The difference is that for doner, they take actual lamb meat and slice it thin. They pile up a bunch of slices of it on a spike and cook it in a vertical rotisserie. Usually they put a piece of lamb fat on top so that the lamb fat drips down and bastes the lamb as it slowly cooks. When it is time to serve the doner, the guy comes by with a big knife and shaves off a few pieces. At Cousin's they served it with a rice pilaf, some flatbread and roasted peppers if I remember right. Cousin's had Turkish Doner for a while but then they stopped selling it. They sold so much of it that it wasn't profitable for them to have other dishes available and they didn't want to just be a Turkish Doner shop. That was the last I had of Turkish Doner for a while. I haven't been able to find it anywhere in KC.

Last April I was in South Beach. I was interviewing for a plastic surgery fellowship down there. A couple of my plastic surgery buddies and I went out for a good time in South Beach. It was about 3 in the morning and we were walking back to the car. One of the guys I was with was Isreali and we walked past an Isreali restaraunt.

He insisted that we stop. I asked him what was good and he said shawarma. So he orders me a shawarma. They put 'salads' on it along with a yogurt sauce. One of the salads was Jerusalem salad. I think I have a recipe for that elsewhere on this blog. I also had tabouleh (one of my favorites). They took a pita and stuffed it with shawarma and topped it with the salads.

So what is shawarma? Well they make chicken shawarma, turkey shawarma and lamb shawarma. It is basically exactly as I described Turkish doner, only better because it was in a pita, it was 3 in the morning and it was topped with 'salads.'

Since that time I have been obsessing about shawarma. I have been looking all over for it and I can't find it in KC. I have decided to make it at home and I have been researching it over the last few weeks. I looked all over the internet for gyro makers, doner makers and shawarma makers. Every one I found was between $1500 and $2200! Also they have to be loaded with like 50 pounds of lamb to work properly. No thanks.

So I was thinking about how I could do the same thing only smaller. Ding! A light went on. A rotisserie would work. You know, the infomercial rotisseries. I looked into rotisseries and found one that would work perfectly - the George Foreman mini rotisserie. Big enough for a 4 pound roast or 1 chicken.

I recently came into $50 as a birthday present from my grandmother on my wife's side. The just so happens to be the exact cost of the George Foreman mini rotisserie! How perfect.

I am on call Christmas Eve and I have to be in the hospital for 24 hours. Can you say George Foreman Shawarma on Christmas Eve??? What would Jesus eat? Shawarma. I'll let you know how it turns out.