Portobello Shawarma Recipe

Liven up your party with this vegan shawarma recipe, which uses spiced portobello or baby bella mushrooms in place of meat.

| May 2019

Photo by Getty Images/Myasinirik

This recipe has been in the making for fifty years. While that might sound dramatic, it’s a perfect example of the role food memories can play in inspiring creative new uses for familiar ingredients. When I was growing up, my father, Anton, loved to forage for wild vegetables, herbs, and fruit. He would pick all sorts of mushrooms and teach us how to distinguish between the edible and poisonous varieties. He also tried (with no success at the time) to convince us that the heartier mushrooms could be used instead of meat in customary dishes that my mother made. Eventually, as an adult, I came around to the idea, and my daughter, Jumana, did, too, when I came up with this vegan portobello shawarma. It’s as spicy and satisfying as the original and will please even the most committed carnivore. 

Make 4 to 6 large pita sandwiches. 


  • 2 pounds portobello or baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and caps finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Pita bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, harissa, and tahini sauce for serving


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the salt and serving options, and toss well to coat the mushrooms. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the mushroom mixture, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pile into pitas along with whatever toppings you like, to make sandwiches.

Note: Set up a shawarma bar for a party with warm pitas, chopped red onion, chopped parsley, pickles, tahini, and harissa so each guest can build his or her own sandwich.

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