Döner Kebab: A Turkish-German Fast Food

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“Döner makes you more beautiful” is the translation to today’s title. Now if you haven’t experienced Germany, you are probably wondering what the hell a Döner is. Well simply put, it is THE top-selling and most popular fast food in Germany with over 15,000 Döner restaurants that can be found throughout the country. It had its German breakthrough in Berlin in the 1970’s, when many Turkish immigrants settled, and different types of lettuce, cabbage and vegetables were added to the sandwich to make it what it is today.

Traditionally Döner consists of marinated meat (most popular is chicken, but beef and lamb are also common) that is stacked high on a giant skewer weighing about 130 pounds! It is then grilled rotisserie style inside the restaurant, where the outer layers are shaved off and served inside a Turkish bread pocket (pide) with a creamy, garlicy sauce, vegetables and feta cheese.

My mom can testify to this, but my visits home to Germany typically start with me being tired and requesting Döner Kebab… right now! I must say though that after cooking today’s Döner recipe, I feel less inclined to follow this addictive habit because IT WAS SO GOOD! I could not believe how authentic this recipe tasted! While I am not sure many Germans would conquer these steps since Döner shops can be found EVERYWHERE there, it is nice to know where your ingredients came from that go into this meal. And since we’re not in Germany and spoiled in that sense, please take this recipe to heart because it is truly SO WORTH IT!

Guten Appetit! Also, if you love German cooking and baking as much as I do and want a chance to win cool kitchen gear (more WÜSTHOF knives to come soon!), PLEASE SUBSCRIBE at the bottom of this post! ????  Danke! ❤️‍

Ingredients for Pide (Turkish bread, instructions to follow):

  • 270 g (a little less than 2 cups) flour
  • 200 ml (a little less than 7 oz) lukewarm water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • sesame seeds
  • some water to wetten your hands and to sprinkle over the finished bread at the end

Ingredients for creamy garlic sauce (whisk together, and salt and pepper to taste):

  • 150 g (5 oz) Greek yoghurt
  • 150 g (5 oz) sour crean
  • 100 g (1/2 c) mayo
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated onion
  • 1-2 cloves grated garlic
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for Döner meat:

  • 600 g (21 oz) chicken breast (or beef or lamb)
  • 1 finely grated onion
  • 3 Tbsp yoghurt
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground, dried garlic
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • Sliced Tomato
  • Sliced Onion
  • Marinated white cabbage (I marinate it for about 1 hour in some white wine vinegar, olive oil, a little sugar, salt and pepper)
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Spicy topping, in German “Scharf.” I used a “Posole Spice Blend” by Los Chileros (Mexican food section at Whole Foods, sometimes also found in the produce section of other grocery stores)

Method for pide bread (make this the day you’re eating your Döner):

  1. Add together lukewarm water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, or until yeast activates and foam starts to form.
  2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add in the water-yeast mixture and knead with the dough hook attachment for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare a 10-inch cake pan (or pie dish) with parchment paper on the bottom.
  4. Using oiled or wetted hands, spread out the dough onto the bottom of the cake pan and let rise in a warm room for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 190 degrees. When dough has risen to twice its size, using wetted hands, gently start pressing into the dough with your fingers (you can also use a cooking spoon), making the pattern you see on the finished loaf).
  6. Brush with water, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake until browned for about 25 minutes.
  7. After baking, sprinkle with some water, then cover with a clean kitchen towel until cooled down (it will help the loaf stay soft).

Method for meat (make 1 day in advance):

  1. Trim and slice meat very thinly against the short side (basically butterflying the chicken (if using chicken like I did), but cutting all the way through). I ended up cutting each breast into 3 to 4 slices.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add together all ingredients to create the marinade, then add the meat to it and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. I made this the evening before the day when I wanted to eat this for dinner.
  3. Remove the meat from the fridge (for me, the next morning). Overlap two layers of plastic foil and layer the marinated chicken breast on top of each other over the section where the foil is overlapping (see picture).
  4. Gently start rolling the chicken into a “log” and make sure it’s tightly sealed.
  5. Transfer to the freezer for 8 to 10 hours (if you leave it in the freezer longer than that, remove 1 hour earlier than when you’re wanting to prepare it).
  6. Gently remove the foil, and cut with a good knife (I prefer this knife!) into very thin slices (see picture).
  7. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a sauteeing skillet over medium high heat.
  8. Add the chicken (cook in 2 shifts) and cook for several minutes until cooked throughly and browned.
  9. For one sandwich, cut open 1/4 of the pide bread to the outer edge, but not all the way through (warm for a couple of minutes on a panini grill if you have one), then open the “pocket.” Start my adding some sauce on the bottom half, then the meat, then cabbage, lettuce, tomato, onion and feta cheese.
  10. Sprinkle with “scharf” Posole Spice Blend if desired (I have to eat it this way!). Guten Appetit!

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