Mock Doner Kebab

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Doner Kebab is a dish, originally from Turkey, made with spiced meat roasted on a vertical  spit roast. The best Kebab I’ve ever eaten was in Berlin, as the city hosts the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey and it’s very easy to find places that serve great kebabs. The situation is London is not as good, as the quality of the meats (you will mainly find lamb, which seems to be heavily processed, and chicken, but not particularly tasty) is not great, plus they serve it on pitta bread, which makes it very difficult to eat. Furthermore, nowadays kebabs often draw public attention for the wrong reasons, mainly for being very high in fat and calories,being made with meats whose origin is unclear (to say the least). As I live in London, for the above reasons I hardly ever have a kebab, which is a shame, because a consider a a good kebab a real treat,
so I was very happy when I found , almost by accident, a way to make something similar to the real thing, although with a completely different process (I doubt that most people have a vertical spit roast at home anyway :))

I am a massive smoked Paprika aficionado and I make my own smoked Paprika-based spice mixtures. The latest one I have come up with is made with dried thyme and oregano, dried Cayenne pepper (I use Italian peperoncino), all reduced to a fine powder using a mortar and pestle and, of course, smoked Paprika.
The result is an intense, fresh, smoky and lightly pungent flavour that works beautifully with chicken and pork.
Once I was eating some chicken that I had made with that mix, and the flavours reminded me of my favourite kebab place in Berlin (Berlin, due to its large Turkish community, is probably the European capital of kebab), so I decided that i would come up with a process to make it look and taste (almost) like a real doner.

For the spices mix: dried thyme, dried oregano, smoked garlic, smoked paprika and dried chilli

Good quality bread rolls,
Chicken thighs, boned (allow 150-200g per person)
White onion, roughly chopped (depending on taste, or about 50g per person)

For the sauce: half mayonnaise and half Greek Yogurt and (optional), 1 clove of garlic, better if blanched

Vegetables (quantities here are difficult to define because each Doner will require fairly small amounts of each):
Tomato, finely sliced
Cucumber, finely sliced on the diagonal
Lettuce, finely sliced
Red cabbage, finely sliced

Olive or canola oil, for shallow frying


First, lets make the spice mix: put the chilli, dried oregano and dried thyme in a mortar and reduce to a fine powder, then add the smoked garlic and smoked paprika. Regarding the quantities, spice mixes depend on taste, so each one can find his way around. As a guideline I can say that the thyme and oregano should make up roughly half of the total quantity, smoked garlic one fifth and the remainder will be smoked paprika. Chilli should just give a hint of piquancy but this is not meant to be a hot dish.

Regarding the meat, I suggest chicken thighs, because they are more tender and juicy than breast; you will find thigh fillets in most supermarkets nowadays; unfortunately, they are boned and skinned, whilst you want to keep the skin on for this preparation as it will add a nice touch of crispness, so it’s better if you bone them yourself or ask your butcher to do it for you.

Once you’ve got your skin-on thigh fillet, proceed as follows:

NOTE: a lightly toasted bread will provide an even better result, so I suggest that you turn the oven on at this point and toast the bread

  • Lay them on a chipping board and flatten using a meat pounder until they have a uniform thickness of 1 cm or less. Pounding the meat will make it thinner, so it will cook more quickly, and will also make the thickness uniform, so the cooking will be more uniform
Pound the meat

Pound the meat

Difference in size between two fillets, the one on the left has been pounded

Difference in size between two fillets, the one on the left has been pounded

Difference in thickness between the two filets, the one on the left has been pounded

Difference in thickness between the two filets, the one on the left has been pounded

  •  Coat with flour
  • In a skillet, heat the oil and shallow fry the fillets on both sides until golden and crispy
  •  Take the fillets off the pan and shallow fry the onions on medium heat
  • In the meantime, finely slice the cooked thigh fillets. There are several methods to do it, but, since they are very hot, I find that holding them with tongues and cutting with scissors is particularly effective:
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  •  As the onions are cooked through and start browning, return the meat to the pan, liberally add the spice mix, stir well and turn off the heat

Now all you have to do is to assemble your sandwich. Spread the garlic sauce and add the meat and veggies to the toasted roll, and enjoy!


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