Shawarma hunting w/ Oluwalanu Agusto
Updated: Oct 9
I have no idea how shawarmas became so popular in Nigeria, they seem to be sold everywhere. It would be interesting to find out how an originally middle eastern snack found its way to our shores, but lets leave that for the history guys to piece together and focus on the eating.
I spent the evening with Lanu and we decided to try two of the popular shawarma spots in Lagos. Lanu is a creative strategist, owner of the iheartlagos brand, drip goddess and she loves a good shawarma. She gave herself the twitter name @shawarmahuntrss as a joke and has now become a go-to consultant for sharwarma recommendations in Lagos.
First we went to the Meat up cafe on Prince Adelowo Adedeji Street, Lekki. We ordered the spicy mixed shawarma with a sausage. I wanted to know what she thought about sausages in shawarmas and Lanu says "because sausages have a distinct flavour and can overpower the other meats, you really don't want to be overdoing it."
My translation - If you're ordering double sausage in your shawarma, you need to be locked up! Anyway, the shawarma came, warm and paper-wrapped. Lanu's hand is pictured below for an idea of the size.
It was a juicy one, they go heavy with the sauce which I'm not sure I like. I feel like dousing food in sauces is lazy, so it requires a fine balance for me. The composition of the meats was great however and it was all so tender. We noticed that it wasn't all uniform though. "Every bite of a great shawarma should be the same. You shouldn't have to take a couple of bites before you first taste the sausage", Lanu says. A good shawarma nonetheless and it cost us ₦1,800 ($4.72).
Next, we went to Tito's which is opposite Ebeanor supermarket, and ordered the same shawarma - mixed meats and spicy. This cost ₦2,000 ($5.25) and as you can see, it's more girthy.
This one was a lot dryer, despite the richer tasting sauce that was there. They used chunks of chicken breast which i think should be chopped smaller so a lot more sauce gets into it. The beef element was beef suya which I quite like, however it could have been way more tender. Lanu however, wasn't a fan of the suya. "The yaji pepper has a strong flavor, so it tasted like a suya shawarma throughout" she said. This was my preferred shawarma of the two while Lanu preferred the one from Meat Up.
Lanu has a number of interesting projects in the pipeline. She is currently working on taking the iheartlagos brand to the next level, research into African culture for a secret project and she is starting a shawarma series, so stay tuned to her instagram for that.
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