What’s not to love about kebabs – sure they’ve got a bad reputation for being greasy and unhealthy but that’s not always the case. There are literally hundreds of types of kebab and for centuries the doner kebab has been enjoyed all over the world.
Originating in Turkey, kebabs come from a time when nomadic tribesmen used to grill spiced meats on their swords over camp fires. Since then they have become popular in Europe, Western Asia, Australia and the United States.
The modern day kebab is said to be invented by ‘Mahmut Aygun’. Born in Turkey in 1922 – he became known as the “Kebab King”. He moved to Germany at the age of 16 and was the first food vendor to put the spiced meats inside pitta breads for people to eat on the move, especially those customers on their way home after having a few drinks – sound familiar?
The first kebab shop opened in the UK in 1966, and as a result of their popularity caused many traditional fish and chip shops to go out of business.
The word doner means ‘turning‘ in Turkish, whilst kebab means ‘roast‘. They are normally cooked on a vertical spit which allows them to self-baste, and accounts for their rich flavour. They are not the healthiest option or though the chicken isn’t as fatty as the lamb donor.
Typically marinated meats cooked on skewers – whilst red meat should be avoided for health reasons, the chicken shish is one of the healthiest takeaway meals you can buy. Throw in a wholemeal pitta bread and lots of fresh salad and you have a really fantastic and healthy meal.
Kofte kebabs are typically made from mince lamb with herbs and spices. They are placed on flat skewers and are barbecued over hot coals. Indian kebabs are also made in a similar way – again not the healthiest, but they’re very tasty!
Here is the first of my kebab recipes with more to follow in the future!
The Best Chicken Doner Recipe
These are great as they can be made in less time then it takes to have a takeaway delivered – and they’re cheap and healthy!
Serves 2 (yeah right)
- 3 large chicken breasts (or 6 chicken thighs)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons of ground cumin
- 2 chapatis or roti’s (flat bread)
- Olive oil
- Fresh garlic
- Natural yogurt (half pint)
- 1 Tsp parsley (fresh or dried)
- Salad – shredded onion & cabbage with chopped tomato and cucumber.
- Jar of pickled chillies (optional)
Start with the chicken to give it a little time to marinate. Chop the chicken into fairly small pieces and mix with the lemon juice and cumin until all of the chicken is coated.
Shred the cabbage and onion, and chop the tomatoes and cucumber into small pieces.
Most people tend to just eat the pickled chillies’ before tucking into their kebabs – in my opinion this is a mistake. Using scissors (or knife) cut the chillies into small slices and have them on your kebab…Fantastic!
Crush between half and a whole clove of garlic (depending on how brave you are) into the yogurt and add the parsley. Be careful with the garlic – make sure you don’t have a ‘hot date’ before attempting this recipe – as it can become quite potent, but boy is it good. Set the garlic sauce aside to rest.
Place the wholemeal Roti’s on the plates ready for serving. Roti’s are a great (and healthy) alternative to bleached white flour pitta breads. You can buy them from your local Asian supermarket or you can make them yourself – Roti Recipe
On a medium to high heat, fry the chicken pieces in some olive oil for 5-10 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your chicken.
Once the meat is cooked, drain off the excess oil and place it into the middle of your flat bread, add the chopped chillies and cover with the garlic sauce. Finish it off with lots of fresh crunchy salad and Bish Bash Bosh – you’re done!