The Doner Kebab Explained

If I mentioned the words “doner kebab” most people would automatically think of the large hunk of brown meat that is cooked by grilling it in an upright position. This is an example of a doner kebab however since doner kebab means “turning grilled meat” it is not the only type of doner kebab available as I found out.

During a trip to Turkey I noticed a lunchtime special doner kebab. In the UK a doner kebab consists of moist and juicy, and very fatty, lamb meat therefore I thought this was the same in Turkey so I ordered one. When I received my kebab I have to admit I was a bit disappointed since it consisted of pieces of chicken breast wrapped in a tortilla wrap with some green salad, and a side order of chips. In Turkey a doner kebab is any type of meat that is grilled by turning it, and not all of them are made out of lamb.

Here is my doner kebab bought at a Turkish restaurant in Dalyan. This doner kebab consisted of chicken and salad, and whilst it was tasty I was disappointed as I was hoping for a lamb doner kebab.

My traditional Turkish doner kebab bought in a resturant in DalyanCredit:

The lamb doner kebab recipe consists of ten kilograms of lean lamb (from the leg), one kilogram of lamb fat, one kilogram of minced lamb, one hundred grams of salt, fifty grams of pepper, half a litre of onion juice, one lemon, one cup of olive oil, one egg and half a cup of milk.

To prepare the lamb kebab the meat is skinned and boned before being cut in to large slices and lightly pounded with a mallet. The onion juice, lemon juice, milk, olive oil salt and pepper are put in to a large bowl and used as a marinade in which the meat is soaked overnight. The minced lamb is mixed with an egg in order to bind it together.

To make the lamb kebab a slice of meat is put on a large skewer, followed by a slice of lamb fat, followed by some minced lamb to produce the ‘first layer’. A second layer consisting of a slice of meat, a slice of lamb fat and some minced lamb is then put on a skewer, followed by a third and so on until the skewer is completely covered. Once the skewer is covered in layers it needs to be put upright in front of the grill and broiled whilst continuously turned.

As you can see from the ingredients the lamb kebab is high in salt, high in fat and high in calories. The lamb doner kebab is nutritionally bad for you and should be eaten sparingly, which is difficult given the lamb doner kebab is so moist, juicy and tasty, which is due to the high fat content.

In the UK a lamb doner kebab is served in pita bread with some salad and chilli sauce. In Turkey the doner meat is usually served on a plate with some grilled vegetables and rice. Alternatively, the lamb doner kebab will be served on a piece of flat bread.

Doner meat on a plate(65138)

In the UK the most popular way of eating a doner kebab is by putting the meat in pita bread with green salad, sliced cabbage, onion and chilli sauce. Alternatively, many people will simply have doner kebab meat on a bed of chips. Since going to Turkey I have discovered that these are very “British” ways of eating doner kebab. In Turkey the traditional way of serving a lamb doner kebab is to put the meat on to some flat bread or pide or to serve it on a bed of rice with some green salad.

The lamb doner kebab is a Turkish speciality and cannot be replicated at home. Sourcing some of the ingredients is almost impossible, especially the lamb fat, and since this is such an important part of a doner kebab it is not possible to make a traditional and authentic lamb diner kebab. The other issue in making a homemade kebab, whether it is a lamb doner kebab or a doner kebab made out of any other meat, is actually cooking it. An upright grill and broiler is a specialist piece of equipment that the majority of households do not have access to and since doner kebab means ‘turning grilled meat’ it is not possible to make a doner kebab without the right grill and broiler.

A doner kebab is a treat for me and it is something that I never attempt to make at home. If I am making a homemade Turkish kebab I will make something else, such as an Adana kebab or kofte meatballs instead.