Wherever you go, you’ve probably encountered fast food restaurants and stalls that offer delicious Turkish kebabs and shawarma. You’ve probably wondered, “Is shawarma and kebab the same?” You don’t have to ponder this shawarma-kebab dilemma further because we’re settling the score once and for all.
Before we dive into the shawarma vs. kebab debate, what are they anyway? A shawarma is a dish with thin slices of meat stacked in a cone. A kebab is a meat dish with chopped or ground meat.
Shawarma is derived from an Arabic translation of a Turkish term, which means ‘turning.’ Kebab comes from the ancient Aramaic word ‘kababa,’ meaning ‘char or burn.’
Difference Between Kebab and Shawarma
The main shawarma-kebab difference lies in how the meat is cooked. For shawarmas, the meat is usually cooked using a rotisserie, while kebabs are prepared skewered. The doner or the kebab base is the only kind that resembles the classic shawarma.
Another factor that distinguishes shawarma from kebab is the meat used. Traditional shawarma uses mutton meat or lamb, while modern ones use beef, chicken, turkey, or veal. Lamb and mutton meat are also the conventional meat for kebabs. However, modern kebabs may also call for beef, chicken, goat, seafood, or pork.
Shawarma usually comes with fresh veggies, like onions, lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes. Tahini sauce is popularly used for shawarma in Middle Eastern countries. The vegetables used to garnish kebabs are the same. However, what distinguishes one from the other is the sauce. The most widely used sauces for kebabs are Tzatziki sauce and flavored yogurt.
Ways of Serving
The standard shawarma can be served in different ways: thinly sliced in pita bread, on a sizeable dish with toppings, or wrapped in flatbread. Kebabs are usually served on plates.
The Bottom Line
But which of the two is healthier? Kebabs have fewer calories than shawarmas, so it’s considered healthier. While these dishes are highly fatty and calorie-dense, they’re still a better alternative than other street food, which are usually deep-fried.
We recommend choosing chicken over beef if you want a low-calorie meat option. You should also request more vegetables and be picky about your dressings.
So, long story short: is shawarma and kebab the same? No, they’re different dishes that share many similarities. But there’s no debate that shawarmas and kebabs are absolutely delicious!