There’s nothing better than some nice hot, juicy comfort food on a cold, rainy day! Samosas, batata wadas, patties, grilled corn and other mouth-watering bites come to mind as the mercury levels begin to dip. In recent years, shawarma sandwiches have been added to the list of foods being sold by street food vendors, who set up shop every evening all over Goa. But, while many people love a good shawarma, not everyone is open to purchasing it from a roadside hawker. And, that’s where innovative foodies like Aamir Almeida come into the picture.
Aamir recently started his own venture, Carnivore, whose specialty is not just shawarmas, but beef shawarmas. Margao-based Aamir is an animator, digital marketing and multimedia professional, did a two-year Animation & Multimedia Course at Arena Animation, Panjim, passing out in 2013, and currently runs a proprietorship, called Mental Grafikx, that caters to Digital Marketing, advertising, Design & Video production requirements. His other passion is good, healthy food.
“I wanted to do something that is more focused on giving people the choice of eating healthier fast foods,” says this young entrepreneur, who started Carnivore, a cloud kitchen serving beef shawarma in June 2022, a curbside takeaway from an apartment in Margao.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
While the Ottomans may have started this trend, with their vertical roasting technology, this delicious food item has been globalized and popularized only in the last few decades. But, its roots go back several centuries.
It’s said that the chicken shawarma, that we know and love today, was developed around 1870 by a man named Iskender Efendi, who created the first-ever chicken shawarma in Bursa, Turkey. Defined as ‘turning’ in Arabic, shawarma is a popular and delicious street food, found across the Middle East. It primarily refers to cut pieces of meat (lamb, mutton, veal, beef, chicken or turkey), marinated in spices (that differ from one region to another), then stacked, forming a cone-like shape on a vertical, rotating rotisserie. Pieces of fat may be added to the stack to provide extra juiciness and flavour.
A motorized spit slowly turns the stack of meat in front of an electric, or gas-fired heating element, continuously roasting the outer layer of meat. Shavings are cut off the rotating stack for serving, customarily with a long flat knife. The roasted meat can be served on a plate, in a sandwich, in a wrap, in a flatbread such as pita or laffa, and is commonly paired with tabbouleh or fattoush (two types of Levantine salads), or with taboon bread (Levantine flatbread), accompanied by toppings of mayonnaise, or hummus, and vegetables.
The Greek gyros and shawarma are derived from this. During the early 20th century, shawarma, in turn, led to the development of the contemporary Mexican dish tacos al pastor, when it was brought there by Lebanese immigrants.
Aamir chooses to use beef in his shawarma, and according to him, “A perfect shawarma is one that is not only tasty, but nourishing as well. I marinate the meat for 12 hours with vinegar, lime, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin, cloves, pepper and cinnamon.” The meat is roasted on a grill (not a rotisserie), which imparts the same consistency. It is then wrapped in khubz (made with whole wheat flour, kneaded in milk), which is around 9 inches in diameter.
His recipe is also unique, one which he created himself after experimenting with various combinations, while trying to keep it as healthy as possible. While most outlets serving shawarma use mayonnaise, he opts for hummus instead, which is great for weight-watchers. The shawarma filling includes cabbage, carrots and chilli. Customers also have the option of a peri-peri flavoured hummus.
In just a month, Carnivore has captured a cross-section of clientele, and currently sells 15 to 30 shawarmas in a day. Aamir affirms that the main challenge is handling orders in a short span of time as almost all orders come between 5 pm and 7 pm. This culinary delight is quite filling, and not exposed to dust, which is unfortunately, the case with roadside vendors.
But that’s not all. Sandwiches, kebabs, whole wheat grilled burgers without oil, whole wheat sandwiches, skewers and sugarless desserts will soon be on his menu, too, shares Aamir.
NAME OF THE OUTLET: Carnivore
OPEN FOR: Deliveries & takeaway only. Available on Phinixx (within 15 km from Margao)
TIMINGS: 5 pm onwards
CONTACT: +91 8237696679