Döner kebab (Turkish: döner kebap or
döner kebabı, literally
"rotating roast"), is a Turkish dish made of lamb meat cooked on a
vertical spit and sliced off to order. Two derived dishes are called shawarma in
Arabic and gyros in Greek, although ingredients and sauces differ. In
English, the term kebab in some countries refers specifically to döner kebab.
Left: The döner meat
is being sliced from a rotating spit. Note the cast iron plate behind
the spit, which is used to cook the meat.
There are many variants in the composition of the meat, the ways of serving it,
and the garnishes. The meat used for döner in Turkey is mostly lamb, but the
chicken variant has also made its way in the very large Turkish street food
There are two basic ways of preparing the meat for döner kebabs:
1. The more common and authentic method is to stack
marinated slices of lean lamb meat onto a vertical skewer in the shape of an
inverted cone. The meat is cooked by charcoal, wood, electric, or gas burners.
The döner stack is topped with fat (mostly tail fat), that drips along the meat
stack when heated. At times, tomatoes, and onions are placed at the top of the
stack to also drip juices over the meat, keeping it moist.
2. In Western Europe, meat for
döner kebab is often industrially processed from compressed ground meat
containing a mixture of different meat kinds from various animals, making the
specific contents less traceable.
In modern Turkey, the döner is served in diverse ways
as main courses or street snacks. Outside of Turkey, generally a döner sandwich is served with
a salad made from shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and onions—often also with cabbage
Left: Döner kebab
sandwich served in a thick pita.
Usually there is a choice between a hot sauce, a whiter yoghurt
sauce containing garlic (tarator/tzatziki), and a dairy sauce containing herbs.
Most döner vendors in Europe also have French fries which can be served as a
side or wrapped with the meat and salad. Sometimes more varied ingredients are
available, such as hummus (chick pea paste), tahini-based tarator, or Turkish
In Russia döner kebab is usually called shaurma (Central
Russia) or shawerma (North-West). It is widespread and is usually made in booths
or small cafes. There are two basic types: in pitah (a type of bun) or in
(thin round cake, in which it is packed). Types of meat from which it is usually
made are chicken and pork. Other meat is seldom used for döner. Typical recipe
includes meat, cabbage and/or carrot salad, cucumbers and/or tomatoes and two
types of sauces: ketchup and a type of spicy youghurt (its recipe is usually
strictly secured by shaurma makers, called shaurmen).