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Shawarma is prepared from thin cuts of seasoned marinated lamb, mutton, veal, beef, chicken, or turkey. The slices are stacked on a skewer about 60 cm (20 in) high. Lamb fat may be added to provide extra fat for juiciness and flavor. A motorized spit slowly turns the stack of meat in front of a heating element, continuously roasting the outer layer. Shavings are cut off the rotating stack for serving, customarily with a long, sharp knife.
Spices may include cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and paprika, and in some areas baharat. Shawarma is commonly served as a sandwich or wrap, in a flatbread such as pita or laffa. In the Middle East, chicken shawarma is typically served with garlic sauce, fries, and pickles.
In Israel, most shawarma is made with dark meat turkey and is commonly served with tahini sauce because serving yogurt sauce with meat would violate the Jewish dietary restriction of not eating milk and meat together. It is often garnished with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, pickled vegetables, hummus, tahini sauce or amba mango sauce. Some restaurants may offer additional toppings like grilled peppers, eggplant or french fries.