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What Is Doner Kebab?
Doner kebab (or döner kebap) is the Turkish name for meat cooked on a vertical spit or rotisserie; the caramelized outer layer of meat is shaved off and served over rice or in a flatbread sandwich. Döner means to rotate, while the word kebap broadly refers to meat cooked on skewers over a fire. In Arabic, doner kebab is known as shawarma; it's also the technique used to make Greek gyros. This style of cooking first emerged in the Ottoman Empire (present-day Turkey) in the nineteenth century and spread throughout the Middle East. Turkish immigrants brought doner kebab to Berlin in the 1960s, where, wrapped in pita bread and sold as a sandwich, it became one of Germany’s most popular street foods.
What Type of Meat Is Used in Doner Kebab?
The traditional doner kebab meat is lamb. Today, chicken, veal, turkey, and beef are cooked in the same manner, with a combination of veal leg meat, lamb meat, and lamb tail fat being a combination in Turkey. (Fatty cuts keep the meat moist and flavorful as it cooks on the rotisserie.) The meat is thinly sliced and sometimes combined with ground meat. In Germany, ground meat cannot exceed 60 percent of the doner kebab.
5 Ways to Serve Doner Kebab
Although the term “doner kebab” commonly refers to the Berlin-style sandwich, technically it just refers to the meat. There are many ways to serve roasted, sliced doner meat:
- German-style doner kebab sandwich: Serve with pide (pita bread), shredded lettuce, and garlic sauce, barbecue sauce, or chile sauce accompanied by a side of french fries.
- Dürüm doner: This way of serving kebab is a recent innovation that involves wrapping the doner meat in a thin Turkish flatbread called yufka.
- İskender kebap: Also known as Bursa kebab, this lamb doner kebab is served on cut-up pita bread with tomato sauce, melted butter, and yogurt.
- Doner kebab banh mi: This Vietnamese-style baguette sandwiches is made with pork, flavored with doner kebab seasonings, and spread with yogurt sauce.
- Kapsalon: This Dutch dish includes french fries topped with doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, cheese, and salad.
Lamb Doner Kebab Recipe
Prep Time30 min
Total Time13 hr
Cook Time4 hr 30 min
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt, plus more if needed
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 5-pound lamb shoulder or bone-in leg
- Tzatziki, to serve (optional)
- Hot sauce, to serve (optional)
- Flatbread such as lavash, yufka, or pita, to serve (optional)
- Shredded lettuce or cabbage, to serve (optional)
- Sliced tomato, to serve (optional)
- Pickles such as pickled cucumber or red onion, to serve (optional)
- Make the marinade. In a large bowl, combine spices with salt, lemon juice, yogurt, and olive oil.
- Score the lamb shoulder's fat in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to pierce through the flesh. Transfer the lamb shoulder to a roasting dish and rub all over with the marinade. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, let the lamb rest at room temperature, still tightly covered in foil, an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast, covered, until very tender, about 4 hours and 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes of cooking, add 1 cup hot water to the roasting pan. Baste with water every 90 minutes, securing the foil after each baste.
- When lamb is tender, remove from the oven and let rest, uncovered, while you preheat the broiler. Return lamb to the oven, uncovered, and broil until crispy, about 5 minutes. Let rest about 20 minutes, then slice thinly and serve with flatbread or rice, salad, and sauces.
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