It’s the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims around the world. It is a month-long period when self-restraint and self-reflection is practiced and Muslims fast with no food or drink from sunrise to sunset. For Muslims, fasting is seen as a way to cleanse the soul and have empathy for those in the world who are hungry and less fortunate.
As Muslims during this month continue their days like usual with work and daily activities, it can become a challenge to wake up early before sunrise and have a meal and to come home at the end of the day and prepare a good meal. Most Muslims end their fast at sunset with family and friends and have celebrations like Iftar Parties. With 30 days of this, short cuts for meals can come in handy.
I came ups with a Shawarma Torta that can become a nice meal at any given time. A Torta is a Mexican sandwich with meat, such as carne asada, topped with salsa, guacamole and other condiments from Mexico. I took this idea and created a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern version of a Torta that I think is perfect for the month of Ramadan. I say this because a Shawarma Torta can be made with left over Shawarma after a dinner or from takeout, and it can be served at your Iftar buffet table. You can serve the Shawarma and allow guests to make their own sandwiches with all the necessary items and still have some left over for the next morning. Take that leftover Shawarma in the early mornings of darkness and bring light unto your day by creating a sandwich that will be delectably satisfying. Whether you are starting your fast or ending your fast with a Shawarma Torta, it will be easy and filling.
In case you don’t know what Shawarma is, it is meat prepared in Levantine style, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, buffalo meat, or any mixed meats are placed on a spit, and grilled for as long as a day. Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit. Toppings for a Shawarma usually include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips, and amba. If you have sauce and toppings left over from a previous meal of Shawarma, you can use that. I went a step further and made Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki, which is more Greek or Mediterranean. It’s a simple salad of cucumbers, yogurt, dill, and salt and pepper. This Tzatziki recipe can be very cooling during the summer months of Ramadan.
I have provided a Shawarma recipe that you will not need a spit to make for this Torta. Use the recipe or use your take-out Shawarma. Which ever you choose to do, enjoy and Ramadan Kareem!
2 lbs of fatty beef cuts
5 cloves of garlic
½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon caraway
½ teaspoon cardamon
½ teaspoon of oregano or thyme
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon crushed peppercorn
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup of olive oil
1/2 a large cucumber, unpeeled
1 1/2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
Round Rolls or Buns
- Mix the Shawarma spices along with the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in a blender for a couple of minutes.
- Cut the beef into chunks of 4 inches long by no more than ⅔ inch in thickness.
- In a bowl, rub the meat with the marinade, sprinkle a bit of olive oil then rub again, cover and let marinate overnight in the fridge.
- Lay the marinated shawarma chunks on a grill and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat. If gilling is nor possible, Lay the shawarma chunks in a Pyrex tray with a bit of marinade, cover the trap tightly with aluminum foil, then gently bake at 270-300F for 2 hours. This roasting method will make the meat very tender and juicy and will almost fall apart.
- Once cooked, shred the meat on a cutting board and serve hot.
- Grate the cucumber and drain through a fine mesh sieve overnight in the fridge.
- Combine the yogurt, garlic, and salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Transfer the grated cucumber and fresh dill to the yogurt mixture and stir to combine.
- Serve chilled with Shawarma.
- Toast the bread, pile on the meat, then finish it with Tzatziki Sauce.
Tip: Add Halloumi Cheese (can be found in Middle Eastern Stores) or Mozzarella for more flavor and fun.