Chicken shawarma is a balanced meal option, providing as many health benefits as possible while also not failing to impress when eaten. Its popularity keeps soaring around the globe, but does chicken shawarma contain gluten? Is it safe for celiac?
What is Chicken Shawarma?
Chicken shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish that is made from chicken marinated in a blend of spices and then roasted on a spit. I ate a lot of it while I was in Israel, but I was surprised to find that it was a common street food on my visit to Nigeria.
Once the chicken is cooked, it is diced and served on pita bread with veggies and sauces like tahini and tzatziki. The Nigerian version took a great turn as they used mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard for the sauce, added some vegetables and two hot dogs, and then wrapped the whole thing with a bread they refer to as shawarma bread.
There are numerous types of shawarma you can find. They have the beef version, made with beef marinated with spices and roasted on a spit, diced, and mashed up with veggies and sauce. The same goes for the lamb shawarma.
What does chicken shawarma taste like?
The taste to expect is a juicy, flavorful chicken with warm, earthy flavors and a note of subtle smokiness and citrus. Further enhanced by the vegetables and bread, giving it an overall mildly sweet but savory taste.
Is Chicken Shawarma Healthy?
Chicken shawarma is not the healthiest choice of snack. It has lots of calories, sodium, and fats from oils, sauce, salt, and pita bread. However, it can be adjusted to a healthier level by using Greek yogurt, healthier bread, and more veggies.
If you’re not trying to lose some weight, you could benefit from the sheer amount of carbs, fats, and calories as they could provide you with energy on the go. Chicken Shawarma also contains lean protein which will help repair your tissues. It also contains Vitamins A, B6, and C and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc.
Given the amount of vegetables commonly used in chicken shawarma, you could benefit from the dietary fiber they provide. Further, the pita bread or tortillas used in wrapping the veggies and meat also contribute to the fiber content of the dish. Fiber upholds your gut health while also aiding against obesity.
Chicken shawarma also boasts monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats which are great for depleting cholesterol levels and helping your body recover from inflammation.
These great benefits are equally matched with the downside of possible weight gain if you continuously keep eating chicken shawarma. It could also become a problem for your heart as a result of its high sodium content. I once got addicted to chicken shawarma, and my cholesterol levels spiked during that period.
The safest way to enjoy all snacks, foods, desserts, and junk is to moderate how much you consume.
Is Chicken Shawarma Gluten Free?
Unfortunately, chicken shawarma is not gluten-free. It is served on pita bread, which is not gluten-free; however, if you could wrap the veggies, meat, and sauce in a rice wrapper, you could have a gluten-free experience.
One of the major problems I encountered while consuming chicken shawarma as a street food was food poisoning. A lot goes on in the kitchen and for a person with a delicate digestive system, it didn’t go down well with me. So, even if you get them to use a gluten-free wrap, cross-contamination and food poisoning become another concern.
It is usually best to make them yourself and they are fun and easy to put together. This will ensure proper hygiene and no cross-contamination occurs.
Other Chicken Dishes You’ll love
Chicken shawarma is a stunner of a treat, you could easily get addicted. However, here are some other lovely chicken dishes you will love to try:
Lumpia is one of my favorite appetizers, it has a satisfying savoury sweet taste that captivates on contact with any taste buds. Just like chicken shawarma, it is made with veggies, sauce, and diced pork, beef, or chicken and wrapped with wheat or rice wrappers, however, it is way smaller in size and fits perfectly into the small chops or egg roll category. Check out our gluten-free lumpia recipe.
The gluten-free Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich made with chicken pate, mayonnaise-like kewpie, Vietnamese baguette bread, veggies, and sauce. This sandwich is guaranteed to grease your buds with its alluring sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors with a not of umami.
Does Chicken Shawarma Have Gluten? Final Thoughts
Chicken shawarma is a culinary art that never fails to inspire and captivate at the same time. Its juicy taste is better experienced than explained, but it is not gluten-free making it not a safe choice of meal for individuals with celiac or nonceliac gluten sensitivity.