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Meal Prep Series: Chicken Shawarma Bowl Recipe

“Meal Prep Series: Chicken Shawarma Bowl Recipe” was written by Priyanka Prakash & Gabi Abreu, BSc and edited/reviewed by Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD.

Medical Disclaimer: The information in this article is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be personalized medical or nutrition advice. For a plan tailored to your needs, please consult with a Registered Dietitian or qualified healthcare professional.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links with which I may earn a small commission but at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links help bloggers like me to provide you with free content. All opinions expressed here are genuine. 

Last updated: July 2, 2024

Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma Bowl

Welcome back to the meal prep series! Today we’re sharing a delicious Middle Eastern Chicken Shawarma Bowl recipe — a perfect meal prep option, offering a blend of aromatic spices and fresh ingredients that will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished. The marinated chicken, infused with flavors of garlic, cumin, and coriander, is grilled to perfection and served on a bed of fluffy rice or quinoa. Topped with a refreshing cucumber-tomato salad, tangy pickled onions, and a dollop of creamy hummus, each bite is packed with classic Middle Eastern flavor.

This chicken shawarma bowl recipe is not only packed with flavor but also easy to prepare in advance, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights or packed lunches. The ingredients can be prepped and stored separately, allowing you to assemble your bowls quickly throughout the week. Enjoy the taste of the Middle East in the comfort of your own home with this Chicken Shawarma Bowl recipe!

A hand is holding up a chicken shawarma bowl garnished with coriander and pomegranate

Cultural History and Tradition of Chicken Shawarma in Middle Eastern Culture

Middle Eastern food is known for its rich and varied flavors. Traditional dishes often use many different spices, fresh herbs, and bold flavors. Meals are usually shared, showing the importance of hospitality and sharing food with family and friends.

Chicken Shawarma is a popular dish in Middle Eastern cooking. The word “shawarma” comes from the Turkish word “çevirme,” which means “turning.” This refers to the way the meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. This cooking method keeps the meat juicy and tender while letting it soak up a mix of spices.

This Chicken Shawarma Bowl recipe uses many spices that are important in Middle Eastern cooking, like cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Marinating and grilling the chicken is similar to traditional methods. This brings a taste of Middle Eastern culture into your home. By making this dish, you are enjoying a flavorful meal and connecting with a food tradition that has been passed down through generations.

How this Recipe Caters to Neurodivergent Individuals

This Chicken Shawarma Bowl recipe can be ideal for neurodivergent individuals due to its versatility and customization options. Neurodivergent individuals may often have unique sensory preferences and dietary needs, and this recipe allows for easy adjustments to accommodate these. For example, the level of spiciness can be controlled by altering the amount of cayenne pepper, making it suitable for those who might be sensitive to strong flavors. Additionally, different vegetables and grains can be substituted based on personal preferences or dietary restrictions, ensuring that the meal is enjoyable and suitable for everyone.

A closeup of a chicken shawarma bowl in a black bowl

The sensory aspects of this Chicken Shawarma Bowl recipe may also make it appealing. The variety of textures—from the tender, marinated chicken to the crisp, fresh vegetables — can provide a stimulating and satisfying eating experience. The vibrant colors of the dish, with red tomatoes, green cucumbers, and pomegranate seeds, can make the meal visually appealing and engaging. For those who are selective eaters or have aversions to certain textures or colors, the recipe’s flexibility allows for easy modifications.

Another benefit of this recipe is its simplicity and ease of meal prep. The steps are straightforward and can be broken down into manageable tasks, making it less overwhelming. Ingredients can be prepped in advance and stored separately, allowing for quick assembly when it’s time to eat. This can be particularly helpful for neurodivergent individuals who might find lengthy cooking sessions challenging. The use of pre-measured spices and pre-chopped vegetables can further simplify the process and reduce the stress of cooking.

Chicken Shawarma Bowl — Tips for Meal Prep and Storage

  1. Make It a One-Pot Meal for Simplicity

To make your meal prep even easier, consider making the Chicken Shawarma Bowl as a one-pan meal. Use a large baking sheet or roasting pan to marinate and cook the chicken. This reduces the number of dishes to wash and streamlines the cooking process. Start by marinating the chicken directly on the pan, then roast it in the oven. While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the vegetables and yogurt sauce. This method saves time and makes clean-up a breeze.

  1. Prep and Chop Ingredients in Advance

Chopping vegetables and measuring out spices ahead of time can make the cooking process smoother and less stressful, especially on busy weekdays. You can also use pre-chopped or frozen vegetables to save even more time. Preparing the yogurt sauce in advance can also help speed things up when it’s time to assemble your bowls.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, and red cabbages are chopped on a black cutting board
  1. Store in Airtight Containers

Proper storage is essential for keeping your Chicken Shawarma Bowl fresh and tasty. Transfer each component—chicken, vegetables, and yogurt sauce—into separate airtight containers. This keeps everything fresh and prevents flavors from mingling too much. The chicken and vegetables can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, while the yogurt sauce should be used within a few days. For longer storage, you can freeze the cooked chicken and vegetables for up to 3 months.

  1. Reheat in the Oven or Microwave

Reheating your Chicken Shawarma Bowl is easy. For the best results, reheat the chicken and vegetables in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through, usually about 15-20 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, the microwave is a quick alternative. Place a portion in a microwave-safe container, cover it loosely, and heat in short intervals, stirring between each interval to ensure even heating.

  1. Prepare Sides in Advance

To complete your meal, prepare complementary sides like couscous, a fresh salad, or pita bread. These sides add variety and texture to your Chicken Shawarma Bowl. Prepping these accompaniments in advance can make your meal prep routine even more efficient.

  1. Customize to Suit Your Taste

Chicken Shawarma Bowls are highly versatile, allowing you to customize them to your taste. You can adjust the seasoning, add different vegetables, or incorporate additional toppings like pickled onions or olives. This flexibility ensures that the dish can meet your dietary needs and flavor preferences.

Various seasonings and spices in wooden bowls
  1. Batch Cooking and Freezing

For those who love having ready-to-eat meals, consider batch cooking and freezing your Chicken Shawarma Bowl components. Prepare a large quantity of chicken and vegetables, portion them into individual servings, and freeze. This way, you can have a nutritious and flavorful meal ready to go even on the busiest days. Simply reheat and enjoy.

By following these tips for meal prep and storage, you can enjoy a delicious, homemade Chicken Shawarma Bowl any day of the week with minimal effort. This freezer-friendly meal ensures that even on the busiest days, a nutritious and flavorful dish is just a quick reheat away.

My Top Five Meal Prep Storage Recommendations

  1. Glass Meal Prep Containers
  2. Reusable Freezer Bags 
  3. Souper Cubes 
  4. Oven Safe Skillet & Dutch Oven
  5. Produce Storage Containers 

Customizing Your Chicken Shawarma Bowl 

An infographic listing how to customize a chicken shawarma bowl
  • Adjusting Spice Levels: For individuals who are sensitive to spicy foods, reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika in the marinade. Instead, you can use milder spices like paprika or just a hint of black pepper. For those who enjoy a bit of heat, you can increase the cayenne pepper or add a splash of hot sauce to the yogurt sauce.
  • Vegetable Substitutions: If certain vegetables are not preferred or tolerated, they can be easily swapped. For example, instead of cucumbers and tomatoes, you could use bell peppers, zucchini, or carrots. If someone has a texture sensitivity to raw vegetables, they can be lightly steamed or roasted to make them softer.
  • Grain Alternatives: While couscous is a common grain in Middle Eastern cuisine, it can be swapped out for other grains like quinoa, rice, or even a grain-free option like cauliflower rice. This allows for flexibility based on dietary needs or personal preferences.
  • Protein Variations: If chicken isn’t preferred, you can substitute it with other proteins such as turkey, beef, tofu, or chickpeas. For vegetarians or vegans, marinated tofu or chickpeas can provide a similar flavor profile and texture when combined with the same spices used in the chicken marinade.
  • Flavor and Texture Adjustments: For individuals who prefer different textures or flavors, the yogurt sauce can be customized. Additions like chopped herbs (mint or parsley), grated cucumber for a tzatziki-style sauce, or a bit of lemon zest can enhance the flavor. For those who might be sensitive to certain flavors, a simple plain yogurt with a touch of lemon juice and salt can be a milder alternative.
  • Garnish and Toppings: Customize the garnishes and toppings based on preferences. If pomegranate seeds are not liked, you can use raisins, chopped nuts, or even dried cranberries. Fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley can be substituted with basil or dill, depending on what flavors are more appealing.

By making these swaps, the Chicken Shawarma Bowl can be tailored to suit individual tastes and needs, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a meal that is both delicious and comfortable to eat.

2 chicken breasts are being fried on a pan
A hand is holding up a chicken shawarma bowl garnished with coriander and pomegranate

Chicken Shawarma Bowl Recipe

Jackie Silver MHSc, RDJackie Silver MHSc, RD
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 5
Calories 504 kcal

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 2 cloves large garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Add chicken. Coat the chicken with the marinade. Marinate for an hour.
  • Combine all the yogurt ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  • Add 1 tbsp of oil in a pan. Place chicken in the pan and cook the first side for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red cabbage and couscous.
  • Garnish with pomegranate and coriander.
Keyword freezer friendly, meal prep
Chicken Shawarma Bowl without couscous nutrition facts
Without couscous
Chicken Shawarma Bowl with couscous nutrition facts
With couscous

Please note: Nutrition facts are provided for Google and SEO purposes only. There is no right or wrong serving size and I do not preach counting calories. You get to decide how much you want to eat.

Conclusion

Preparing meals ahead of time can make a big difference when life gets busy, and the Chicken Shawarma Bowl is a great example of a dish that’s easy to make and packed with flavor. By taking a little time to marinate and grill the chicken, chop fresh vegetables, and make a simple yogurt sauce, you can enjoy a healthy and delicious meal all week long. The blend of spices and fresh ingredients brings a taste of Middle Eastern cooking right to your kitchen, making mealtime something to look forward to.

This recipe isn’t just tasty—it’s also versatile. Whether you want to add more veggies, use a different type of grain, or change up the toppings, the Chicken Shawarma Bowl can be adjusted to suit your tastes and dietary preferences. This flexibility, along with the convenience of meal prepping, means you can have a nutritious and satisfying meal ready to go, even on your busiest days.

By following these meal prep tips and learning about the cultural background of Chicken Shawarma, you’re not just cooking—you’re embracing a tradition of flavorful and communal dining. So, gather your ingredients, start marinating that chicken, and enjoy the simplicity and satisfaction of making your own Chicken Shawarma Bowl at home. Happy cooking!

We’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite toppings to add to your chicken shawarma bowls? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below! Stay tuned for more culturally diverse and easy-to-make recipes in our ongoing meal prep series!

Related Articles 

  1. Meal Prep for Picky Eaters: A Parents’ Guide
  2. Autism Safe Foods: Foods for Sensory Sensitivity
  3. Exploring the Link Between ADHD and Picky Eating
  4. 13 Healthy Smoothies for Picky Eaters

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A headshot of Priyanka Prakash

Priyanka Prakash is currently pursuing her second year in nutrition studies, having previously obtained a degree in computer science engineering. After working as an engineer for several years, she decided to shift her career to focus on her true passion—nutrition. Priyanka is enthusiastic about cooking and baking, often experimenting with new recipes that combine her technical expertise with her culinary interests.

About Jackie

Jackie is a Registered Dietitian whose mission is to empower and support the neurodivergent and physically disabled communities through nutrition. Jackie runs a virtual private practice and blog which has simple recipes and health information tailored to these communities. She loves cooking, exercising, traveling, journaling, and spending time with family and friends.

Check out her full bio here →

A headshot of Gabi Abreu

About Gabi

Gabi Abreu, BSc, is a Nutrition & Dietetics graduate from Toronto Metropolitan University and the Blog & Social Media Manager at Jackie Silver Nutrition. She is also the founder of the Working Woman’s Health Collection. WWHC was created with the purpose of inspiring women to achieve a healthy relationship with food, while taking into consideration the busy lifestyles that we live today. Beyond her professional pursuits, she loves experimenting with new recipes, trying new workout classes, and indulging her love for adventure through travel!

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