Doner kebab (Turkish döner kebap, literally “turning roast”), is a nomadic dish originating from the Turkish / Arabian area. The doner was originally prepared for ease of transport and cured for long life. It is associated as a Turkish dish made of meat cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order.
The meat may be lamb, mutton, beef, or chicken. Alternative names include kebap, donair, döner, donnar, doner or donner. Doner kebab is the origin of other similar Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes such as the Arabian shawarma and the Greek gyros. The doner kebab was introduced to Europe by Turkish immigrants and has become one of the world’s most popular fast food dishes. In travelogues from the 18th century, döner kebab is described as a dish from Asia Minor, consisting of mutton grilled on horizontal rotating skewers. Traditionally, it was served on a plate with rice and a hot sauce with melted butter and ground paprika.The original form of today’s döner kebab is Oltu kebab. Oltu is a small town near Erzurum, Turkey. The original form is grilled horizontally and the slices are cut thicker, after inserting a special L shaped Oltu shish along the surface. In the 19th century, the modern form was invented in Bursa. Before taking its modern form, as mentioned in Ottoman travel books of the 18th century, the doner used to be a horizontal stack of meat rather than vertical, probably sharing common ancestors with the Cağ Kebabı of the Eastern Turkish province of Erzurum. In his own family biography, İskender Efendi of 19th century Bursa writes that “he and his grandfather had the idea of roasting the lamb vertically rather than horizontally, and invented for that purpose a vertical mangal”. With time, the meat took a different marinade, got leaner, and eventually took its modern shape.
There are many variations in Turkey:
- Porsiyon (“the Portion”, doner on a slightly heated plate, sometimes with a few grilled peppers or broiled tomatoes on the side)
- Pilavüstü (“Ricetop”, doner served on a base of pilaf rice that gets tastier as the fat in the meat drips into the rice)
- İskender (specialty of Bursa, served in an oblong plate, atop a base of thin pita, complete with a dash of pepper or tomato sauce and boiling fresh butter)
- Dürüm, wrapped in a thin lavaş that is sometimes also grilled after being rolled, to make it crispier. It has two main variants in mainland Turkey:
- Soslu dürüm (speciality of Ankara, contains İskender sauce, making it juicier)
- Kaşarlı dürüm döner (speciality of Istanbul, grated kaşar (yellow cheese) is put in the wrap which is then toasted to melt the cheese and crisp up the Lavash)
- Tombik or gobit (literally “the Fatty”, doner in a bun-shaped pita, with crispy crust and soft inside, and generally less meat than a dürüm)
- Ekmekarası (“in a bread”, generally the most filling version, consisting of a whole (or a half) regular Turkish bread filled with doner)
Doner Kebab Recipe:
1 teaspoon plain flour
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
500g/1.1 lb lamb mince
Preheat oven to gas mark 4/180C/350F
In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, dried oregano, dried Italian herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper.
Add the lamb mince and mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes. Take out all of your aggression on the kebab mixture, punching and kneading until no air pockets remain and the kebab meat is extremely smooth.
Shape the seasoned mince into a loaf and place on a baking tray.
Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes, turning the loaf half way through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Slice the donor kebab as thinly as possible and serve with pitta, salad and sauces!!!