Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a true place in my heart for shawarma. I fell in love with this cuisine back in 2007 when I moved to Ottawa, ON, Canada, and moved into an apartment with a friend of mine, Kelly. Our new apartment was about 25 steps from the front door of Shawarma King and two blocks from my favorite Lebanese restaurant to this day, The Shawarma Palace. My life has been forever changed since that first bite of a Shawarma wrap.
I visit Ottawa twice a year to see my family and one of the first stops I make stepping off the plane is to The Palace for a shawarma platter with my friend Natasha that shares the same love for this delicious food!
Since going Keto I did have to give up the rice, potatoes, and pita but I didn’t have to give up on flavor. My order is always the same: Chicken Shawarma Salad, no tabouli (contains wheat germ), with hummus, extra-extra garlic sauce, pickles, turnips, and hot peppers. mmmm just deliciousness!
You should know that I just finished eating shawarma for dinner, but from scratch with my homemade garlic sauce, which I make with avocado oil. Much healthier, as typical Lebanese fast food shawarma houses will use a rapeseed (canola oil), soybean, corn, sunflower or safflower oil; which are highly inflammatory oils.
I wanted to share with you my recipe of how to make incredible garlic sauce. Keep reading for the toum recipe.
It’s all about the garlic. It steals the show every time. Obviously bursting with the strong garlic flavor but also the hint of lemon comes through. It’s so delicious.
Making a Lebanese restaurant quality garlic sauce, also known as Toum, is not an easy task and I failed many times. It has been temperamental and fussy if it wants too and you end up with what looks like runny white sauce because it doesn’t thicken. I can’t tell you how many failed attempts turn into Caesar salad dressing for the week.
You are also not just wasting a small amount of product, my recipe makes a large batch so if it doesn’t emulsify, you could be wasting a significant amount of oil, but if this happens to you, just make it into a salad dressing or a sauce to cook chicken in. You can get creative with it, it isn’t what you would call wasted, just need re-purposing.
Before you attempt the garlic sauce, it is key that all the ingredients are room temperature. This is what I meant by it being temperamental and fussy. Something this simple can ruin your sauce before you even start it.
A Perfect Balanced Meal
A traditional Shawarma platter consists of Chicken, Beef or Donair served with rice, potatoes, salad, pickled turnip, pickles, parsley & onions, hummus, and garlic sauce and topped with hot pepper, tabouli, tahini sauce and hot sauce if you desire. And we can’t forget that it is served with a pita.
Clearly, on a ketogenic diet, you can’t have the rice, pita or potatoes, but you don’t miss them. This meal is full of ingredients that are all low in carb by nature and the sauces are all high in fat and no hidden sugars. Perfect right?
And let’s not forget that the vegetables served with them are pickled turnip, pickles, and hot peppers, which are all low carb & fermented, so they help boost healthy gut bacteria.
If you are eating Shawarma out, the protein is one area that you need to be careful to not overeat. A huge benefit of Lebanese restaurants is how generous they are with their portions. I swear their motto is that no customer leaves hungry. I am yet to finish a platter or salad in one sitting.
Because we know protein needs to be moderate on a ketogenic diet, you can easily get ahead of yourself with overeating on protein. Good practice before you even get started when digging into your meal, is to separate the portion of food that you intend to eat, eyeballing what your typical portion of meat is in one sitting.
Also, avoid donair unless you know there are no gluten or other carb fillers in it. You are typically safe with chicken or beef.
Garlic Toum Recipe:
Yields: 4 cups of Toum
Prep Time: 15 minutes
- 3 heads of fresh garlic, peeled (old garlic is not recommended)
- Cut each clove in half and remove the germ from the center
- 1 lemon juiced, room temperature
- 4 cups avocado oil, or other neutral healthy oil
- Salt, to taste approx. 1 tsp is what I use
- Bring all ingredients to room temperature
- In a large container food processor add the garlic and salt and chop or pulse until small sized chunks are formed, I will stop the machine a couple times to scrap down the sides as the garlic will spread onto the sides and not hit the blade
- Turn the food processor back on and start to process the garlic into a paste and this is where you will start to pour 1/2 a cup of the oil in a slow stream (very important!)
- Once done adding the oil, now it is time to slowly pour in a Tbsp of lemon juice
- Repeat step 2 and 3 until all the ingredients are used up
- You are looking for a thick consistency that could be described as similar to mayo, and you should see this sauce take form when you start to slowly pour in your second 1/2 cup of oil.
- Turn off the machine, remove the container from the base, remove blade and place in an airtight container, a mason jar works great and store in fridge up to 1 week.
Enjoy on any protein! SO good!!