Chicken Shawarma Spice Blend

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Chicken Shawarma Spice Blend

I’ve mentioned before in other recipes how much we love a Chicken Shawarma spice mixture we used to buy at the Phoenicia Deli and Importers on Westheimer Street in Houston, TX.  My existing bottle was getting low so I decided I better try to come up with my own before it was totally gone and I would lose the capability to compare any trials to the flavor of the real thing!  Houston is 3 hours away, so I no longer consider buying direct an option and they do not manage a website. 😦

So I took down my almost empty bottle of Chicken Shawarma Spice and examined it closely.  First for visual clues as to its possible ingredients. I could clearly see black pepper in it.  It had a yellow hue, so turmeric and cumin were bound to be in it, as these spices are so prevalent in Middle Eastern cooking.  Then I smelled its aroma over and over again to add to my understanding of what might be there.  Finally, I tasted and tasted until I decided I’d just go for it and mix up the few things I felt certain were in it.  I could definitely detect a little “bite” on my tongue, so I deduced maybe cayenne?

I decided to mix equal amounts of everything but the cayenne, because the “heat” was barely noticeable on my tongue.  Stirred it up and tasted……but something was missing.  Seemed a bit flat.  So I decided to spunk it up with a little onion and garlic powder.  Stirred again and tasted and  finally, I was getting real close to the real McCoy!  Here’s the final product of my experiment.

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3 T. ground cumin seed

2 T. ground coriander seed

1 T. turmeric

1 T. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

DIRECTIONS:  Mix all and store in jar in a dark cabinet.  This is sprinkled on broiled chicken or chicken that has been grilled outside for the famous Shawarma sandwich wraps. I find I also like it on a plain cooked ground beef patty or broiled fish, on oven-roasted veggies as well.  I like it so much I often put 1-2 T. into a double batch of my homemade mayonnaise recipe.  Mmm.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Makes 8 T. or 24 tsp.  One tsp. contains:

7.2 calories

.27 g  fat

1.28 g  carbs, .47 g  fiber, .81 g  NET CARBS

.27 g  protein

trace sodium

20 comments on “Chicken Shawarma Spice Blend

    • Never do put it in my spice blends. I’m too sensitive to sodium and the water retention it causes me, reflecting badly on the scale the next day and in very tight rings on my fingers. Omitting it from the blends allows me to then add salt to taste to recipes without worrying I will get TOO much salt. You can always add salt; you can’t take it away.


  1. This recipe is very similar to a garam masala. Could the missing spice possibly be cardamom? Green cardamom has a grassy almost floral taste. Black cardamom has more a smokey like flavor that’ll boost the flavors of coriander or cayenne. Both are very underutilized spices, but they exist in many Indi recipes.


    • Really doesn’t taste like Garam Masala at all to me. This is a Middle Eastern blend. Most Garam Masala recipes include cinnamon that is very detectable in the final blend. The predominant flavors in this Middle Eastern blend are turmeric and cumin, actually.


    • Allspice is used more in cooking beef and lamb dishes, not their chicken dishes. Although there certainly may be exceptions to that general statement. I like both blends, but none of the CHICKEN shawarma sandwiches I’ve had at authentic delis here in the U.S. have had allspice (or cloves) in their chicken spice blend. It’s a pretty noticeable clove-like taste and I would have detected it. What comes through in all the chicken shawarma I’ve had has been turmeric and cumin.


  2. When making a Shawarma spice mix I do not use onion powder, but use paprika, ground cloves, and cinnamon, I also usually toast the spice mix slightly in a pan which in my opinion improves the taste of the spice mix.


    • Your blend sounds more like all the Beef/Lamb Shawarma spices I’ve had. The one I use here is designed for Chicken, actually. We like them BOTH and I have BOTH in my spice rack.🙂 The dry roasting is often seen with Indian spice blends. 🙂


      • I personally don’t have one, Brett. I’m still using a bag of commercial beef/lamb blend I bought at The Phoenicia deli and Cafe on Westheimer in Houston. I’m not as fond of that one, so have made no effort to try to create one (or recreate theirs). Allspice and cloves are prevalent in the beef/lamb versions and I’m just not very fond of those two spices. But I’m sure with Googling you could find lots of recipes for what you are looking for.🙂


    • I suppose you could use them, Gypsy, but just know up front they won’t be as good and the final blend will suffer a bit with that substitution. Cumin, and coriander in particular, once ground, lose a lot of flavor, just like ground coffee stored a long time doesn’t compare to the flavor of whole freshly ground coffee beans. The powders will tend to scorch in the skillet and will not render that depth of flavor derived from whole, roasted seeds you grind freshly. They may even give off a “scorched” flavor, so don’t get the heat too high if subbing in powders here.


    • Sure, Mags, that’s just a little coarser grind is all. I use them interchangeable all the time. What you want to avoid is garlic SALT. I don’t like to put salt in my blends so I can better judge how much I should add to the total recipe without forgetting a blend might have had salt in it also. I’ve over salted some recipes forgetting that little fact. So I never put salt in them now. 🙂


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