Döner Kebap, My Favorite Sandwich
When I landed in Copenhagen, Denmark, I stayed at the amazing Generator Hostel there and met some amazing people from Dresden, Germany. They told me I absolutely MUST try two things while in Germany: currywurst and döners. Once I arrived in Berlin I tried both. I wasn’t so impressed with currywurst which reminded me of a cut up hot dog with some spicy ketchup sauce on it–not that impressive. However, after trying one döner, I was in love and I’ve had several döners a week since. It is now a staple in my regular diet.
What is a Döner Kebap?
There are three ethnic variations on the döner. The one I know in America is the Greek ‘gyro’.
The Gyro (super simple version of a döner)
A gyro, for those of you who haven’t tried one, is a pita pocket opened and filled with lamb meat (sometimes others meat, but usually lamb), some sauce and sometimes some onions. Some places will have other toppings.
The Shawarma (a better version of the Gyro)
The second variation is Arab and known as the ‘shawarma’. I had shawarmas in Israel in Egypt where they are as common as felafel (a felafel is a pita pocket filled with fried chick pea balls, veggies and sauce). The shawarma is a better version of the gyro with more stuff. It is also served in a pita pocket, usually with lamb meat. But with the shawarma, you get more veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a choice of three sauces. When I was in Israel and Egypt I lived on shawarmas and felafels. Yum!
Döner Kebap (and Döner Dürum)
Finally we get to my favorite… the döner kebap. This is served in Turkish bread which is much thicker than the pita. They also toast this bread in a two sided waffle grill which makes nice dark lines in it. The bread is thick and yummy and shaped more like a rectangle opened at one corner. The bread when opened is almost half again larger than most pita pockets, so you get a lot of food in one sandwich. They start by coating the sides of the bread with one of three sauces: garlic, yogurt or chili. All three are great and I recommend trying each to see which you like best. You can even get two in one sandwich (I often have garlic on one of the insides and chili on the other inside). They then load it with hot meat right off the döner vertical spit. You get your choice of veggies. I always go for all of it: lettuce, cabbage, onions, shredded carrots, tomatoes, and something that might be beets. They then usually put a few shakes of some spices or salt on top. The döner dürum is the same thing but in a large flat tortilla rolled exactly like a burrito. Dürums are slightly more expensive because they contain about 20% more stuffed food inside and are a little bit less messy making them easier to eat if you are moving while eating. The best part beyond the amazing taste is they only cost 2.50 to 3 euros (about half what a hamburger costs).
If you EVER have a chance to try a döner kabap, I HIGHLY recommend them!