Traditional Middle Eastern shawarma sandwiches are made with marinated pieces of meat pressed and stacked on a vertical rotisserie and cooked slowly. A few years ago, I picked up another technique for making shawarma at a food stall at Cherry’s Supermarket along Congressional Road in Quezon City. Instead of pita bread, the beef and vegetables were arranged at the center of a flour tortilla and then wrapped jellyroll-style. It was delicious.
We have had home-cooked shawarma many, many times since. And we have experimented with different combinations for the filling–tuna, chicken, roast duck. When the local KFC outlets came out with its Chicken Twister (rolled tortilla filled with chunks of fried chicken and vegetables), the concoction was nothing new to us.
I do not have a vertical rotisserie. Never did. To make our shawarma, we have been improvising by panfrying the marinated beef. Trim the lettuce leaves, wash them, and drain them. Arrange on a platter. Place the chopped onions, tomatoes, and grated cheese in separate saucers or bowls. Slice the beef thinly, about 1/8″ thick. Cut each slice into slivers, about 1/4″ x 1″ in size. Season with salt and pepper (you can also use your favorite marinade) and let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, wrap the stack of flour tortillas in foil and warm in the oven. Heat a heavy skillet. Melt the butter or margarine. Pan-fry the beef over high heat just until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm. Remove the tortillas from the foil wrapping and transfer them to a plate. To assemble, Place some lettuce leaves in the middle. Add some slivers of pan-fried beef, chopped onions and tomatoes, and grated cheese. Smother with a tablespoonful or so of yogurt or sour cream. Roll up the tortilla, jellyroll style, and enjoy.