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Doner Kebab

Doner kebab is the name used to describe a roasted meat item made with either lamb, beef, turkey or chicken, but not usually pork. This is a dish of Turkish origin. It is usually prepared on a vertical rotating spit for the meat to be evenly cooked on all sides through the heat emitted from an iron heating plate right behind the spit. Even a combination of meats works well for this dish. Rarely, fish or sausages may be used. The roasted meat shavings are wrapped or rolled in a flat bread like pita bread or a tortilla which is served as a fast food item in different parts of the Middle East, Europe, Australia and North America. The colloquial terms used for this dish which has gained fame as an Arabic speciality are gyro, ‘al pastor( or shepherd style in Spanish) and the more popular 'shawarma'.


Mahmut Aygun, often known as the ‘Kebab King’, invented the Doner kebab. This Turkish origin gentleman moved to Germany and got involved in the food business. He served his first doner kebab on March 2, 1971 at Hasir, the restaurant he opened at Berlin. “Dondurmek” - Turkish for rotating roast, is where Agyun derived the name of his invention from.

Ingredients and Preparation

Meat of different kinds or a mix of different meats, seasonings, tomatoes, onion or pineapple, and cooking fat are the main ingredients of the shawarma.

The seasoned meat is arranged as an inverted cone on the vertical spit and turned gradually to allow roasting slowly in its own juices by the heat emitted from the vertically erected skewer. Most often, a tomato, onion or pineapple, cut into large chunky pieces is placed on top of the stack so that it is roasted and the juices flow out into the meat during the cooking process. It has to be ascertained that the meat remains moist and does not dry out. This is done by using some cooking oil only if the fat in the meat itself seems insufficient.

Serving Doner Kebab

The outermost layer of the roasted meat is sliced vertically downwards in thin crisp shavings. As and when a portion gets done, the meat is shaved off and collected into a tray at the bottom. This is placed within the flat bread, topped with tomato, onion, parsley, gherkins and cabbage; sauces like tahini, hummus, hung curds, garlic mayonnaise, Turkish white cheese and vinegar flavoring; spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg. It is served alongside a white yoghurt sauce and some pickled vegetables.

Nutritive Value

Rightly classified as a fast food, this item does not rank high on the nutritious foods list. This food is found to have alarmingly high calories, fat and sodium content. As much as 1006 calories, 5.9 g of salt, 62.3 g of total fat and 29.5 g of saturated fat is obtained from an average serving of the doner kebab.

Nutritional Improvements

The fat content needs to be drastically reduced; saturated fats can be removed by roasting leaner meats with a drizzle of olive oil rather than butter or lard. This can help improve the unsaturated fat content. Plenty of raw vegetables like carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, tofu sliced into thin strips can be used with lesser meat to fill the pita bread. Also, garlic chilli sauce and low-fat herbed hung curd sauces may be used in place of mayonnaise and cream based sauces in a low-calorie doner kebab. Lime juice or vinegar can replace the salt as there is already enough sodium from the meat and other sources.