To Shawarma or Not to Shawarma?

One of the most popular shacks here in Beirut is good old BARBAR. It’s impossible for you to visit here without someone pointing you to that place, and why is that?

It’s because of good old fashioned shawarma! If you are unfamiliar with this Mediterranean dish, let me introduce you to it in detail.

There are basically two kinds, chicken and beef. The beef/chicken is hung on a vertical rotisserie and as the outer meat is being cooked, it is shaved off and made into a sandwich. Other ingredients added include a garlic mix, pickles, tahini, among others. Now, the good news here is that the meat is not being fried, so that’s an advantage – but on the other end, a lot of these places keep the added fat on the meat so it can melt away and give it that extra yumminess-factor.


Let’s take a look at some of the calories, shall we?

Shawarma starts at 400 calories (might differ slightly between chicken and meat, but this is a good average) and at least 9g of fat! This number isn’t too bad, especially when compared to other food disasters BUT we need to watch out for the following:

  • This is based on local shops where the sandwich isn’t too big, and this is me assuming you remove an extra layer of bread, if you don’t you might like to add an additional 100 calories for bread bringing the total to around 500 calories
  • A lot of western countries have bigger portions or use more meat. Some could reach a whopping 650 to 1000 calories so you really need to refer back to serving sizes and see how much you’re consuming  (an example here)
  • Calories will differ if you are making a yoghurt based garlic or mayo one, and if you’re adding fries etc… All this does add to the calorie count
  • If you are a big eater, you might not be able to resist having a second sandwich  – congrats, you have just hit the 1000 calorie mark (not to mention 20 grams of fat at least) and is the reason I’m writing this post!

A lot of food items, as I keep mentioning, are not completely blacklisted – but the quantities that we tend to consume them turn them into heart attacks on a plate.

So, what can you do?

MAKE YOUR SHAWARMA AT HOME! I don’t eat meat or chicken, but I hunted for you a good yummy recipe that can be found here that you can easily make and is less than 400 calories per serving (but still about 10grams fat*)  .

If you are too lazy to do this, then again, refer back to the serving size post, and stick to one sandwich and fill your self up with a salad beforehand! Also, make sure to remove the extra bread layer that most places add, and try to keep added calories such as fries, mayo, tahini etc… to a minimum.

So, in conclusion: TO SHAWARMA, BUT!


*For an adapted and lower fat recipe, kindly contact me through email.

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One thought on “To Shawarma or Not to Shawarma?”

  1. Great read bro I serve up some mouthwatering shawirma sandwiches in fort Worth do you have any secret recipe u could pass down

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