Earlier this summer I vacationed in Germany and Switzerland. This was my third time in Germany, and my absolute favorite thing to eat there is Döner Kebab — a Turkish-German fast food that is flat bread, shaved lamb/turkey/chicken from a vertical spit, lettuce, tomato, onion, sometimes red or white cabbage, and a white sauce, and sometimes with a spicy red sauce or just red pepper flakes on top.
It. Is. Delicious. And you can pretend it’s healthy, since there are vegetables in it and the meat is cooking vertically, so much of the fat roasts out. I set out today to make my own version. I had to collect recipes from all over the place, so none of these recipes are mine (but I have linked to their sources).
First, I made the bread. There are two kinds of Döner, a Döner sandwich on a flatbread, and Dürum Döner, which looks more like a burrito. I wanted to eat the flatbread, and rather than try to find it, I decided to make my own…
2 t (1 packet) dried yeast
1/2 t sugar
1 C lukewarm water
3 C all purpose flour
1 t salt
2 T olive oil
2 T plain yogurt
Extra flour, to dust
Extra olive oil, to grease
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tsp sesame seeds
- Combine yeast, sugar and 2 T of the water in a small bowl, and stir until yeast dissolves. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes or until frothy.
- In a large bowl, sift flour and salt together. If you don’t have a flour sifter, you can just whisk them together.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and salt, and add the rest of the water, the oil, the yogurt, and the yeast mixture that you set aside.
- Stir together with a wooden spoon until combined, then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
- Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
- Lightly grease the inside of a large bowl with oil, then place the dough in the bowl and turn it to coat it with oil. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours (or until dough has doubled in size).
Two hours later…
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until dough has returned to its original size.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, and shape each portion into 7 inch by 12 inch rectangle.
- Place on 2 non-stick baking trays (or 2 cookie sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray) and press with fingers to indent surface. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rest for 20 minutes or until dough has risen half an inch or an inch.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the base. I baked it for 7 minutes, then swapped the cookie sheets on the racks, then cooked it for another 7 minutes. I then lowered the oven temperature down to 350° to prep for the meat, and put the bread back in for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
So, there’s your bread! You have a nice 2 hour break in the middle of that preparation that is perfect to get the vegetables and the meat ready.
- Shred the lettuce. I got a head of iceberg lettuce and chopped it myself, but they also sell it pre-chopped.
- Slice the tomatoes. I also de-seeded them because tomato seeds are gross.
- Slice the onions. I try to slice them as small as possible because they can taste quite bitter.
- Prepare the red cabbage! I prefer red cabbage to white, but it isn’t served completely raw.
- Shred the cabbage as finely as you can. I tried to also remove as much of the white rib as I could.
- Wash it until the water runs clear. I suggest being sure to do this step, as I hardly made an effort and my cabbage was still pretty bitter.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and then equal parts fresh lemon juice and olive oil. I used 1 T of each with about 1/3 of the head of cabbage (saving the rest for another dish).
- Mix together!
You can also prep the vegetables beforehand. I shredded the cabbage and lettuce the day before to save time.
Next, prepare the meat. I bought 1 lb of ground lamb at the store, but will probably mix it with turkey next time — the smell and taste of the lamb was very overpowering.
The same forum thread with the bread recipe also had a meat recipe, so I used that.
Döner Kebab meat
1 lb ground lamb (or equal parts ground lamb and ground turkey)
1 t salt
3/4 t ground black pepper
1 t flour
1 1/2 t ground oregano
3/4 t italian seasoning
3/4 t garlic powder
3/4 t onion powder
3/4 t dried mustard
1/2 t cayenne (if you don’t like spicy food, you can put in less)
1/4 t paprika
- Mix together all spices, then add to meat. I kneaded it like meatloaf, ensuring that all the spices were evenly distributed throughout. If you have a mixer, the recipe recommends that you “put all ingredients into a mixer with a dough hook and mix for 30 minutes.” The key is to get as much air as possible out of the meat.
- Then, make a tightly packed loaf and put it in a greased loaf pan. If you have an insert that allows it to sit above base (so it doesn’t sit in its own grease), use it.
- Bake the meat at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour, and turn it over halfway through to ensure even browning.
- When the meat is done cooking, take it out and raise the oven temperature to 400°F.
- Then, slice the meat as thinly as possible. Since mine roasted in its own grease, I put the slices down on a broiler pan and cooked the meat an extra 5 minutes to try to get more of a crust on it and roast out some of the grease. A higher temperature and a longer time would have probably helped here, but I was getting impatient!
So, there is meat, there is bread, there are vegetables, now you just need sauce!
My sauce did not work out the way I wanted it to. I made a tzatziki-like sauce, following this recipe and using half sour cream and half yogurt (I used Kroger brand plain greek yogurt). It was terrible, because it was far too sweet. I remade it with less dill and only sour cream, so I’ll be trying that next.
8 ounces (1 C) sour cream
2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, crushed (I used 1/2 t minced garlic from a jar)
There were also recipes for yogurt garlic sauces, which was the same except without the dill, pepper, olive oil, and using yogurt instead of sour cream. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in the U.S. unless you’ve made your own yogurt or can find sour enough yogurt, because American yogurt is so sweet. I also liked that sour cream has a much lower sugar (aka lactose) content.
So it was a success, sauce aside. I’ll be trying various sauce combinations over the next few days as I finish up my leftovers!