HISTORY of DONER KEBAB From the Doner Kebab Expert
What is Doner Kebab
When exploring the streets of Istanbul, there is never a dull moment. Whether you are hearing the call to prayer from the gorgeous mosques that dot the city skyline, a simitci (Turkish bagel vendor) calling you to his cart, the horns of a ferry announcing its arrival at the docks of the Bosphorus, or the honking taxi warning pedestrians to pick up the pace, your heart will be racing with excitement. And the smells, oh the smells! Perhaps the most iconic among them– the tantalizing aroma of döner kebap (doner kebab). As the combinations of lamb, beef, and chicken turn on their spits over open flames, you may find your mouth watering. Watching. Waiting patiently for the dönerci to shave thin slices of juicy meat into lavash, top with lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, generous squeezes of lemon, and sprinkle with sumac before handing it over to you with a smile. At DonerG, it is our family roots and these memories that bring such an authentic experience to our Southern California restaurants.
Where the Doner Kebab Originated
Love for döner kebap is a common experience shared by the people of Anatolia, the Levant, North Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and the Mediterranean from its conception in the Osmanlı Mutfak (Ottoman Kitchen) to its modern-day global spread. Known by different names but owing its origins to 1850’s Bursa in modern-day Turkey, which is considered by many as the birthplace of the vertical roasted doner kebab. However, it is thought that stacks of seasoned lamb roasted over an open flame, albeit horizontally, was in practice in the Ottoman Empire since the 17th century. Turning the spit from horizontal to vertical is what keeps the flames from singing the meat and the fat coats the meat in succulent goodness. Our signature Iskender Kebab Plate captures these original flavors with a spiced butter sauce poured over the juicy meat. To the forefather of döner, we say mashallah!
Names of Doner Kebab
“Doner kebab” itself translates to “spinning meat”. As this style of spit roasting spread through Ottoman lands, the name was inducted into many languages. شاورما shawarma in Arabic-speaking regions, the word rooted in the Turkish word çevirme (also meaning to spin). You can get a taste of this dish by trying our Doner Pita Sandwich. γύρος (gyros) in Greek, altered from the original to be made with pork and served with tzatziki. Our halal Doner Kebab Rice Plate brings these unique Meditteranean flavors together using the freshest ingredients. Lebanese families who immigrated to Mexico brought shawarma with them. Spit roasted meat paired with Mexican spices and served in a tortilla instead of pita or lavash bread became an ever popular street food known as tacos al pastor or tacos árabes. Our Doner Wrap is a unique take on these Mexican favorites, wrapped to perfection in a soft flour tortilla. Turkish expats called to work in Germany after the WWII also brought döner with them, a street food rising so rapidly in popularity since 1969 that Germany is now known as the doner capital of the world! If you tell a German national you are Turkish, the first thing they want to talk to you about is how much they love doner.
Where to get the best Doner Kebab in the USA?
So now that doner has made its way here and is growing in its demand, are you ready to experience the spiced-to-perfection satisfaction of biting into thinly shaved, marinated doner kebab? You don’t have to book a trip to the Mediterranean to get a taste because the best doner kebab in the USA is right here in Orange County. We wonder, what will your dipping style be? A tahini-based sauce or a zesty yogurt one. Maybe you will think like the Germans and prefer a spicy ketchup. Will you have it dürüm-style (rolled up in bread), our Berlin Wrap, or over rice with a side of perfectly grilled veggies, our Doner Kebab Rice Plate? Our Istanbowl saves you from having to choose between chicken or beef doner. Why choose when you can savor both! And of course there is no authentic doner kebab experience like a cold glass of Housemade Kefir (refreshing probiotic yogurt drink). Don’t forget to finish your meal with decadent baklava for desert! You can choose between Walnut Pistachio Baklava, Chocolate Walnut Baklava, or keep it classic with the Walnut Baklava.
At DonerG, we have been bringing you a taste of our cultural heritage and the modern updates of the West for 25 years. Will you join us at our sofra (table)? Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will be diving into the origin stories of our many other kebab varieties!