1 kilo from the butcher

Sometimes, your butcher decides what you’re going to have for your Shabbat meals. This past week, I went to my butchers with a list of exactly what I was planning on making for Shabbat. And, sure enough, I walked out of there with completely different ingredients. Originally, I wanted to make this delicious marinated turkey breast recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s first cookbook. I’ve made it before and it was really a great dish, even my 3 year old ate it. So, you can imagine how disappointed I was when they told me they were fresh out of turkey breast.

I really didn’t want to make a second chicken dish for Shabbat, so I walked up and down in front of the meat counter and took in the sights. That’s when I noticed a sign for shawarma and what looked like turkey breast wrapped in saran wrap. When I asked the butcher for a closer look, he took it out of the wrapping and laid it on the cutting board for me to view. It honestly looked a bit like a turkey breast, just darker meat and not at all what I was used to seeing in shawarma. I’m used to the giant spit of meat, roasting and rotating while the shawarma guys squeeze bottles of oil onto the meat, before cutting little pieces and stuffing it into my pita.

I told the butcher to wrap it up for me and that I would figure out how to prepare it later. He cut the meat into two and then asked if I wanted little pieces. I quickly stopped him, as I  preferred the meat whole as opposed to chunks, so I could figure out a different way to prepare it. I didn’t want to serve shawarma pieces with rice for Shabbat lunch, I wanted to find a more sophisticated way to serve the meat.

I crossed corned beef off my list and added shawarma, and then I let the butcher talk me into buying some slices of beef carpaccio for my husband. He was thrilled, and ate it marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for first course this afternoon. I also picked up a kilo of brisket, which they had on sale, and had the butcher chop up for me. We watched Top Chef last week and everyone was making Texas style chili, which means no beans but plenty of brisket. It looked so good that I want to experiment and make chili in the slow cooker, as opposed to chulent, when we have a really cold Shabbat!

After the kids were in bed and before my Thursday night conference call, I decided to make the shawarma. Fortunately, I had plenty of time to search for inspiration from some of my favorite foodies. After a rousing back and forth about the shawarma on my Facebook page, I found inspiration in Baroness Tapuzina, who recommended roasting with some mustard and herbs. My husband’s Aunt also had a really interesting recipe, which was Asian inspired, that I hope to try next time.

Rinsed, patted, and in two pieces ready for seasoning

With Gaby at my side, we debated using dried mustard or a prepared mustard. I usually use dried mustard when I create a spice rub for lamb chops, but something made me reach for the Dijon. I’m so glad I did!

Seasoned and ready for the oven!

I also ended up using dried parsley because of my knife skills. I have to refine my skills to really get my herbs chopped fine enough for these types of dishes. The final dish was delicious and so, if you’re looking for a time saver, definitely go with the dried herbs. But, if you have the time, I highly recommend cooking with fresh herbs.

The best part of this dish is that it didn’t taste like the shawarma you get in a pita, smothered with chummus with oily french fries mushed on top. It reheated well, tasted great, and was sophisticated enough that I would serve it to guests.

Do you have a recipe for shawarma? Share it in the comment section below!


Shawarma with Dijon and Herbs

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

This is not the typical shawarma you'd find at the corner bodega! Using a combination of spices and a good French Dijon mustard, it's a winning dish that's perfect for a Shabbat lunch.


1 kilo shawarma, cut into two large pieces
4 Tbsp French Dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
cooking spray


Pre-heat over to 350 degrees F/180C. Wash and dry the shawarma and then place into a greased cooking dish. Spread 2 tbsp of French Dijon mustard over each piece of shawarma. Sprinkle remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and bake. Let rest 10-15 minutes and then slice and serve!