Soy Curl Shawarma

Soy curls might just be one of my most used vegan protein products, because they are easy to use and can be flavored in so many different ways. This Shawarma recipe features soy curls for their texture and ease of use. It starts with a homemade spice blend and unique marinade to create an aromatic and flavorful “meat” that takes just a few minutes to throw together. Keep reading to learn more about soy curls, and, of course, the Shawarma recipe! Make it, love it, make it again, and thank me later.

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First off, what are soy curls?

There are a lot of plant based meat alternatives and recipes but they are time consuming to make from scratch and the store bought ones are loaded with mystery ingredients. Soy curls are made out of…soy beans. That’s it. They are made with the whole bean which means lots of fiber and nutrients! They come dehydrated and all you need to do is soak them in hot water and you’re ready to eat. Rehydrating them in a marinade adds even more flavor, and that’s where this recipe makes all the difference.

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Image from ButlerFoods

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Where to get Soy Curls?

Butler Foods is the only company who makes them. They are a great family owned business who is making a big difference in how we think about food. Unlike other companies who seek to expand their product line at the sacrifice of quality, Butler Foods sticks to soy curls and awesome customer support. You can buy them directly from their website or on Amazon. But, I encourage you to purchase directly from them so that they get full profit.

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Image from ButlerFoods
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They are 100% natural, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, grown and made in the United States, great source of fiber, high in protein, and really easy to use. On their own, before you add seasoning or cooking, they don’t contain any sodium, cholesterol, or trans fats. They check all the boxes! What’s not to love?

Soaked soy curls before cooking
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Some of my favorite ways to use Soy Curls are on tacos, BBQ sandwiches, hoisin coated served with udon, crushed into small pieces for sloppy joes, and more. They will taste like whatever you season them with so it’s up to your creativity!

Just about ready to serve
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Alright, shawarma, what is it? Well. It’s not a gyro. It’s easy to confuse gyros and shawarma here in the United States because the two titles are often used interchangeably, mostly because people just don’t know the difference. Shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish made with grilled and seasoned meat and commonly served simply on a pita. Shawarma seasoning is a combination of turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and other common Middle Eastern spices. Gyros are Greek and seasoned with oregano, thyme, pepper, and other herbs. Shawarma is highly aromatic and heavily seasoned and is served without a sauce. Gyros, while also aromatic and well seasoned, are commonly served with a variety of vegetables and a sauce like tzatziki. That’s a really condensed explanation and if you want more information check out this Food Guys blog post.

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How to eat this soy curl shawarma? Feel free to go more authentic (this is veganized so it’s already not authentic) and serve simple on a pita with maybe some veggies, or deviate and combine shawarma and gyro. But, be prepared for some comments on a post about getting it wrong. You do you. I love tzatziki and I have no shame pouring it on my shawarma. So, without further adieu, here’s the recipe!

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Served some with vegan feta and tzatziki
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Soy Curl Shawarma

This vegan recipe for shawarma using soy curls will become your new favorite. Aromatic, flavorful, and really easy. This recipe is for the "meat" which starts with a unique marinade that gives the dish far more flavor than just a dusting of seasoning.
Course Main Course
Keyword dinner, gluten free, shawarma, soycurls, vegan
Prep Time – 20 mins
Cook Time – 20 mins
Total Time – 37 mins
Servings – 4 people

Ingredients

Shawarma Blend

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon all spice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Soy Curl Marinade

  • 2 cups soy curls
  • 1/4 cup dried shiitake (or other dried mushrooms, rough chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegan worchestershire
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 2 cups boiling water

Cooked Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion (thinly sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shawarma blend

Serving Ingredients (Optional)

  • 4 toasted pitas
  • Finely chopped lettuce
  • Diced tomato
  • Tzatziki (not a shawarma topping but it's delicious)
  • Olives

Instructions

  • Whisk together all spices in the shawarma blend and set aside. You can use a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or just a whisk/fork.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together the dried shiitake, parsley, nutritional yeast, worchestershire, apple cider vinegar, cumin, liquid smoke, and boiling water. Stir in the soy curls, let sit for 5 minutes, then stir again. Let sit for a total of 10-15 minutes. They won't be hurt by soaking longer.
  • Before draining the soy curls, reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade liquid. Set aside to use in the next step. Instead of squeezing the soy curls to remove liquid, simply strain so that the curls are still well hydrated.
  • In a large non-stick frying pan cook the sliced onion over high heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, and shawarma blend. Cook for 3-5 minutes while stirring. Add in the reserved marinade liquid. Stir in soaked soy curls, drizzle with olive oil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  • You're ready to serve and eat! Prior to placing on a pita sprinkle a little shawarma blend on the soy curls, a squeeze of lemon, and a few cracks of black pepper.

Notes

The two most important parts of this recipe are the marinade and browning or caramelizing the onions. These ingredients and steps give the soy curls, which are flavorless on their own, a lot of umami and aromatics. 
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