Today I’m sharing steak shawarma tacos with za’atar guacamole.
If I could have a love affair with a type of cuisine, Mexican would be it. Their medley of acid, heat and earthy spices always leaves me wanting to come back for more. At first glance, it probably looks like Mexican and Middle Eastern cooking doesn’t have a lot of similarities. The use of acid is different (limes vs. lemons) and Mexicans use a variety of spicy peppers, while Arabic cooking is mild. If you dig a little deeper, they have more in common than meets the eye.
Traditionally, the majority of Mexican families are villagers and farmers (much like Middle Easterners) whose culture and rhythm of life relies much on the region and seasons. Their dishes involve layering flavors and braising ingredients over a stove for a long period of time. Most notably, their street food consists using a type of flatbread (tortillas) as a vehicle for meat and sauce (see where I’m going here?). In fact, Mexicans realized the cross between shawarma and tacos from their Arab immigrant and refugee population, and the created their own fusion: tacos árabes, which consists of pork roasting on a rotating shawarma-like spit that is shaved onto tortillas.
That brings me to these steak shawarma tacos. When I was living in Chicago, summertime always had me craving tacos. Some of my favorite memories involve tossing marinated meat on the grill, throwing it on a corn tortilla and dousing it with spicy salsas and refreshing cilantro and onion. Naturally, that craving hasn’t changed, even though I don’t have a grill in Dubai, it’s dead hot outside (i.e. NOT grill season), and I’m cooking more Middle Eastern food than anything else. The idea of using shawarma on tacos came easily, and I HAD to share the recipe with you because it’s just so dang delicious. I thought of the za’atar guacamole on a whim, because zippy za’atar goes great on basically everything.
I use flank steak for the meat, but any 1-inch steak or less will work really well. I also use the same marinade as my oven lamb shawerma, so be sure to pick up some mastic at your Middle Eastern store for that signature flavor.
I hope you give this recipe a try! If you do, don’t forget to put it in the comments and tag @omayahatassi and #omayahcooks on Instagram! I love to see your creations!
Steak Shawarma Tacos with Za'atar Guacamole
Shawarma-spiced steak tacos play with za'atar guacamole in this delicious fusion of flavors. Mastic, which you can find at the Middle Eastern grocery store, gives the meat a slightly piney quality and makes it taste quintessentially Middle Eastern.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes with overnight marinate
6 corn or flour tortillas
1 lb or 500 g flank steak
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp smashed mastic
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
A few dashes of Worcestershire
For the guacamole:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp za'atar
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp grond cumin
Pickled red onions
Crumbled feta cheese
Lime wedges for serving
- Combine the meat with apple cider vinegar, garlic, mastic, nutmeg and Worcestershire in a large bowl or zip top bag. Marinate overnight.
- The next day, combine all the guacamole ingredients and taste to adjust seasoning. Can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the additional toppings and place in serving bowls. Remove the meat from the fridge and heat a large skillet on high. Cook the steak, about 1-2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Set aside to rest for about 5 minutes. While resting, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave.
- Slice the meat against the grain. Assemble tacos with steak, guacamole and additional toppings. Enjoy!