What is a doner kebab?
Doner kebab (Turkish spelling: doner kebabi, pronounced “dohnr-k-bha-b”) means rotating roasted meat. Slices of marinated meat are skewered onto a large roller, and then grilled as it rotates. Traditionally, lamb is used, though veal, beef or poultry can also be used, especially outside of Turkey.
When the roasted meat is placed into a split pita bread, it is called a doner kebab or doner sandwich. If the meat is rolled into a yufka, a thinner flatbread, the dish is called durum doner or yufka doner.
The dish can trace its name to the Turkish word dondurmek, which means rotating grill. According to legend, the dish was invented in the 1970s by a Berlin-based Turkish migrant named Nurman. He said that he was the first to respond to the emerging fast food trend and began selling flatbread doner meat, which later became the doner kebab as we know it today. Nurman is, of course, not the only one who claims that he invented the doner but there is no doubt that Berlin is the birthplace of the doner in Europe.
However, kebabs were not unknown in Turkey. The preparation of meat on skewers has a long history in Anatolia and meat has been prepared on a revolving, and then horizontal grill since the 19th century. The standing grill followed a little later. This historic doner was served without bread.
How to prepare a doner kebab
Quite a few kilogrammes of meat, lamb is the tastiest, is required for a roll of doner kebab. The meat is cleaned, thinly sliced and then mixed with a marinade, which, depending on the chef, contains flavourings, such as paprika, paprika powder, onion, oregano and chilli pepper. After marinating, the meat is placed on large skewers and the kebab master makes sure to place some fat on/between the meat to ensure a juicy result.
The meat is grilled on a horizontal rotisserie grill, which turns the meat golden brown and sizzling hot. Thin slices of meat are shaved or cut from the outside in and served in sliced or rolled bread with a sauce made from yoghurt, mint and garlic.
How to eat
The doner sandwich can be eaten with your hands. If you like spicier food, sprinkle a generous amount of chilli flakes on the sandwich.