Turkish Cuisine : Döner Kebap

The doner kebab (Turkish: “(turning) barbecue meat”) is one of the best known dishes of Turkish cuisine. It consists of meat slices spiced with marinade, which are layered on a vertical rotisserie and grilled sideways. From this gradually the outer, browned layers are cut thin.

Originally only mutton or lamb meat was used for kebab, meanwhile – at least outside of Turkey – also veal or beef and poultry such as turkey or chicken are common.

Döner is served as a main course with side dishes such as rice and salad, or as a snack in a sliced ​​flat bread (pide) (Turkish pide arası döner) or in a Dürüm kebab (“rolled kebab”) or Yufka kebab called variant in which the meat into a particularly thin flatbread, the Yufka, is wrapped.

The success of the doner kebab and the associated street vending in Germany has somewhat overshadowed the traditional Turkish cuisine based on Ottoman palatial cuisine and the current trend towards a re-orientalization of Turkish cuisine. In Europe, the relatively simple snack bars are still associated with Turkish cuisine.

History Of Döner Kebap

döner kebapThe preparation of meat on a rotisserie has a long tradition in Anatolia, including the serving of grilled meat in pita bread. Helmuth von Moltke, at that time military advisor to the Ottoman Empire, wrote in his diary on June 16, 1836:

“We had our midday meal at the Kiebabchi in Turkish. Then on a wooden disk the kebab or small piece of mutton, fried on a spit and wrapped in bread dough, appeared a very good, tasty dish. ”

This Schisch Kebab was still cooked on a standard horizontal grill. A little later, a cook named Hamdi in Kastamonu first grilled meat on a vertical skewer. His recipe has been passed down through several generations of his apprentices. Then marinate in finely sliced ​​mutton for about a day in a thoroughly blurred mixture of finely chopped onions, salt, pepper, hot pepper and cumin and then put in a conical shape on the skewer – at the bottom of the meat from the club, then the comb meat and finally the filet. The barbecue was brick and clay walled up and operated with oak charcoal. Under the spit was a double-layered scoop. In the upper, perforated part, the cut meat gathered, in the lower meat juice and fat. This “Urdöner” was served with a mixture of parsley and onions, supplemented on request with rice and side dishes such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radish and hot peppers.

About 25 years later, the kebab was possibly re-invented independently in Bursa. The chef İskender, founder of a restaurant named after him, processed a portion of mutton into minced meat and layered it between soft-sliced ​​meat slices. He served the grilled meat with yoghurt and melted butter on a layer of sliced ​​flat bread, known as Iskender Kebab. In Bursa the name “Doner Kebap” should have been formed.

Whether Hamdi or İskender were actually the inventors of the vertical meat skewer, however, is uncertain. Very similar dishes are the Arabic beef shawarma and the Greek pork gyros which are also fried on a vertical rotisserie.

Dönerkebab has been on offer in Istanbul since the 1940s – but only in very few restaurants, one of them in Topkapı Palace. The beginning of the street sale in flatbread is given for some snack or Büfe operators in Istanbul in the late 1960s.

Types Of Döner Kebap

Döner has established itself as fast food in almost all European countries since the 2000s. Döner snack bars are mostly operated by immigrants from other countries in the Near and Middle East outside the German-speaking countries, as immigrants from Turkey are hardly present there. In Spain and France, kebab shops are mostly run by immigrants from North Africa, but the offer of kebab shops is still marketed as Turkish food and reminds neither conceptually nor of preparation to similar dishes from the Arab world.

Dürüm Döner

The triumphal march of the Dönerkebabs in the Federal Republic was also not initiated by the restaurant gastronomy. It began in the early 1970s, when the cut meat from the roast cone was no longer offered with side dishes on a plate, but in a dumpling and thus (also) to take away.

Doner in gobit bread

When the first doner kebab opened in Germany is unclear. According to legend, it was in the early 1970s in Berlin on Kottbusser dam. According to another statement, which is confirmed by the association of Turkish kebab manufacturers, the kebab – at that time as grilled meat in flatbread with only onions – including its preparation on a rotating metal skewer by the Turkish immigrant Kadir Nurman invented and never patented; his first doner kebab snack had been at Zoo Zoo in the early 1970s. [9] Nevzat Salim claims to have offered the doner kebab back in 1969 in Reutlingen.

The doner kebab spread only in cities with a high migrant population, but quickly became a court in the university cities and experienced after 1990 in East Germany and finally in the West German province a (renewed) boom. First in Berlin, later in Germany, Döner became a popular snack dish. Every day about 200 to 300 tons are produced; Turnover in 1998 was about 1.5 billion euros. In 2011, there were more than 16,000 kebab shops in Germany and the kebab industry’s turnover was about 3.5 billion euros. [12] Döner Kebab has been available as a kebab in Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland since the mid-1990s.

While the Dönerkebab was initially staged with folkloristic elements in order to serve the exoticism of German guests, took place in the 1990s, a significant transformation of the doner kebab to the US-American global fast food culture.

The variant of the kebab in pita bread, which is common in German-speaking countries, differs from the turkish one especially in the addition of garden salad, gesc

Ingredients and production of Döner Kebap

A doner kebab usually consists of a stratification of four to five layers each in yogurt and spices marinated lean meat, which is followed by a layer of fat meat – for example, from cross or high rib. A finished kebab skewer weighs about two to forty kilograms. Many restaurants and food stalls do not produce the skewers themselves, but obtain them from industrial production. In Germany there are about 400 such Dönerfleisch producers; the leader is the Kap-Lan doner production founded by Remzi Kaplan [14]. The market leader in Switzerland is Royal Döner with a market share of 60 percent.

In Germany, doner kebab often contains minced meat in addition to sheer meat. In the 1980s began the mass production of doner kebabs. In order to preserve consumer expectations, the composition of Döner was first established in 1989 in the “Establishment of the Berlin traffic concept for the meat product Dönerkebap” [16]. In the meantime, kebab is also included in the guidelines for meat and meat products  of the German Food Book. It says that raw material should only be used for raw sheep’s sake and / or coarsely desirous beef. The minced meat content should be below 60 percent. It may also contain salt, spices, eggs, onions, oil, milk and yoghurt.

This information is not a legal norm. They merely describe the current general concept of traffic within the meaning of food law. If these conditions are met, the court may be sold as a doner kebab. Different variants, which also contain pork or can only consist of minced meat, bear names such as rotisserie kebab or similar. Yaprak doner kebab (“leaf doner kebab, doner kebab”) is now a common name for traditionally made kebab from pure meat slices without minced meat.

The general conception of the traffic does not include the observance of the Islamic dietary rules (halāl, especially the commandment of the shafts). Only a part of the kebab producers makes doner kebab out of mutilated meat.

Since the BSE crisis in the 1990s, doner kebab has also been produced from chicken or turkey meat. However, the kebabs manufactured in this way may not be called doner kebab; commonly used are the names chicken doner or Tavuk doner. Also in the 1990s, the Dürüm doner kebab was popular, in which the meat and the other ingredients are not inserted into sliced, several centimeters thick pide, but rolled into millimeter-thin yufka. Occasionally Lahmacun is used instead of Pide or Yufka, a flatbread baked with minced meat and tomatoes.

In addition, there are on the kebab in the flatbread ajar dishes with other deposits such as the Turkish sausage specialty Sucuk and vegetarian dishes, in which the meat is replaced by falafel, seitan or cheese such as Halloumi or feta.

In the variant “doner box” (also “doner bag”  or “Pomm doner” ) the meat with French fries together (alternatively still with lettuce, tomatoes and onions) layer by layer in a cardboard box or filled bag, soaked in sauce and eaten with a fork.

Kebap is written in Turkish in the basic form with p at the end (final hardening), the Duden recommends in German, however, the spelling doner kebab with a final b. As a valid alternative spellings, however, he also performs doner kebab and the combinations Dönerkebab and doner kebab on. The Austrian dictionary knows kebab, kebab, doner kebab and doner kebab.

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