sandwich: vegan shawarma

sandwich vegan shawarmaa tangy, spicy mix of “meat” with fresh vegetables in pocket bread, this comes to you direct from minneapolis via childhood summers in sweden via my aunt and uncle who were living in the netherlands at the time. although back then it was real beef, and i didn’t use vegetables, and i put ketchup on it. i know, i know. but i was young. i know.

traditional shawarma, which hails from the middle east, usually uses meat from one of those creepy orange-heat lamp vertical rotating beef logs that they shave pieces off of (i’m feeling some anxiety about the grammar at the end of that sentence, but i’m just going to leave it). however, i distinctly remember having ground beef and not sliced meat in my first experience with it, which is possibly a dutch thing. i mean of course, beyond the fact that my grandparents didn’t have the rotating beef log contraption.

you could conceivably use most any kind of protein alternative here (i used textured vegetable protein), but for more “authenticity” i’d go for thinly sliced seitan. add whatever vegetables you want…onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce are fairly typical (though if you fear the onion, you may not enjoy this recipe). stuff into pocket bread or wrap in pita, and serve it with tahini dressing (or goddess dressing, like i did here). following is the spice/marinade mixture that i used with 2 cups (before rehydrating) tvp. this makes well more than you’d probably need for a couple of sandwiches, unless you’re really hungry or don’t want to fit a lot of veggies in your sandwich. feel free to halve it.

also, this made a rather “wet” tvp consistency that didn’t brown very well in the pan (if you’re into looks in addition to just heating something up). you might want to reduce the amount of rehydrating liquid, or just use another protein source altogether.

vegan shawarma (makes about 3 c filling if using tvp):

2 c tvp
2 tsp marmite dissolved in 2 c boiling water
2-3 c seitan, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mace* (or nutmeg)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 onion, minced
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c red wine vinegar
if using tvp, pour the marmite-water mixture over the tvp in a bowl and mix well. let sit a few minutes to soak up the liquid. combine all the ingredients, mixing well to distribute the flavors.

let sit at least 15 minutes, or marinate in the fridge for a few hours. heat some olive oil in a skillet and cook, stirring to keep it from sticking to the pan, until heated through (and browned if desired).

serve in pita pockets with fresh vegetables and a tahini-based sauce or dressing.

*note: mace and nutmeg actually come from the same plant, the nutmeg being the somewhat large inner seed (which you can grate fresh), and the mace the aril (the thin, red skin) of the nutmeg seed. though quite similar in taste, mace is considered to be stronger and slightly sweeter than nutmeg. feel free to use either – mace will be a little harder to find, and a little more expensive, but if you can find it in bulk, you’d only need a little bit.