Presumably, the Port Harcourt shawarma culture has its roots in the large Lebanese immigrant population. However, the food purchased on the street here is quite different from the typical Lebanese shawarma wrap. The food has become a staple for night owls as they enjoy the vibrant club scene in Port Harcourt’s various bar districts – particularly in D-Line and GRA Phase II.
This week, I sampled a Port Harcourt shawarma from the one of the city’s most popular spots – La Verra Club in D-Line. La Verra was one of the first clubs to produce shawarma and typically has a long line of patrons ordering the dish starting at 7pm and late into the night.
Their shawarma uses ingredients typical for most places in Port Harcourt. The dish starts with Lebanese pita bread. The chef splits apart the layers of the bread making two pieces, and then pours a special sauce on one layer of the bread. A La Verra, the sauce contains a mixture of salad cream, ketchup, chili sauce, and Nigerian “peppa”, which is similar to pili pili/peri peri in other parts of Africa.
Then he tops it with some shredded cabbage.
Adds a cooked hot dog.
Adds grilled and seasoned chicken and/or beef.
Then adds ground pili pili peppers.
Adds more sauce.
And rolls it up using the second layer of the bread.
The shawarma is grilled on a sandwich press for a bit.
The result is a spicy, sweet, and savory wrap best enjoyed with a cold beer. Certainly it contains way more calories and fat than one should consume in a typical meal. But as my friend Clinton says – E dey be sweet well well!