Lamb Shawarma with Spiced Basmati Rice and Salad-e Shirazi

I’ve had pretty limited exposure to middle eastern food; however, the fave, so far, continues to be lamb shawarma. Lamb shawarma is a fast-food staple of the middle east and is traditionally served shaved off of a large spinning spit of meat. I fell in love with this rich dish at one of my favorite Milwaukee restaurants, Casablanca. Surrounded by belly-dancers, the air thick with a fog of hookah smoke, this blessed dish was served to me atop fragrantly spiced basmati rice alongside a beautiful cucumber tomato salad. It was love.

I set out to make a copycat version of this dish. Nothing can quite compare to the glory of their dish, but until I can sneak into their kitchen…maybe disguised as a belly dancer?… this will have to do. Though it can’t even compare to the Casablanca glory, this dish will bring you to a whole new place. It’s warm spices blend perfectly with the rich flavor of the lamb and the salad pulls everything together with its bright flavors. Yum.

Lamb Shawarma

Adapted from and shawarma-style-lamb-pita. I took bits and pieces from both. 


2 lbs lamb fillet, thinly sliced (keep some of the fat on)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp mace

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup plain yogurt


1. Cut the lamb fillet into thin strips (about 1/2 inch)

2. Mix together all of the spices, juice and yogurt.

3. Toss the lamb strips in the mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. When the lamb is ready, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Cook until the lamb strips have browned and are slightly pink on the inside.

5. Serve over spiced basmati rice with a side of salad-e shirazi. Top with tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce:

Whisk together 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp tahini, pinch of salt and tbsp cold water.

Spiced Basmati Rice


1 1/4 cups basmati rice

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 cups water


1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil and stir.

3. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and let rice stand 5 minutes.

Salad-e Shirazi: Tomato Cucumber Salad

5 roma tomatoes

2 cucumbers

1/2 red onion

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

small handful of chopped fresh mint

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste


Chop tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Toss with remaining ingredients.

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