Kebabs are intrinsically associated with beer in many European countries. We don’t know about Germany where the vertically-grilled doner originated, but in Britain, they’re more-or-less only eaten by drunk people.
They’re different all over the continent, of course. In Germany, they favour a fluffier, lighter ‘fladenbrot’. In Britain, it’s usually a boring old pitta bread. Our local is run by Mauritians, though, who (weirdly) do the best naan breads in London, which is what they use as the base for their kebabs. That’s covered in grilled meat, stacks of veg, yoghurt and lethal chilli sauce.
When it’s done, you’re left with a polystyrene box full of bright red grease.
We know kebabs are bad for us, but that doesn’t stop us craving them from time to time. For the sake of our hearts, though, we’ve learned to make a slightly healthier version at home.
Here’s the recipe.
Ingredients (for two)
4 chicken thighs or
2 chicken legs (you could use breast, but it’s just not dirty enough for the authentic flavour and mouthfeel)
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
The juice of 2 lemons
One small onion
Half a crisp lettuce (if you’re posh, cos or little gem; iceberg is fine)
Two tablespoons of runny natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon of finely chopped mint
2 naan breads, pitta breads, Turkish “pide”, bread rolls or anything else suitable for turning into a dirty sandwich — we buy naans from the kebab shop!
Chilli sauce (Thai is good; Jamaican sauce is OK if you like Scotch Bonnets; otherwise, see what your corner shop has in stock).
- First, cook the chicken thighs or legs in the oven at about 180 degrees centigrade for 45 minutes. When they’ve cooled, take all the meat off the bones and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
- Get a big frying pan (we use a wok) and put the vegetable oil in. When it’s really hot, chuck the chicken in. Cook for about 5 minutes or until it starts to get quite dark on the outside.
- If you watch the chaps in our local kebab house, you’ll note that they’re spraying lemon juice over the chicken the whole way through grilling. We need to do the same to keep the chicken moist and stop it sticking. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice every now and then.
- After about 8 minutes, add the chopped garlic and all the remaining lemon juice. Turn the heat down.
- While the chicken is finishing, slice the onion and lettuce. Put the mixture on your bread.
- Add the paprika and stir it in. The chicken will turn a violent red/orange — chicken kebab colour, in fact. Add the salt, stir in and give it another minute or so to finish cooking.
- Put the chicken onto the onion and lettuce mix. Drizzle the yoghurt over the top, sprinkle the mint, and then add chilli sauce to taste.
- You can add any other veg you like — grated carrot, slice tomatoes, pickled chillis — whatever it takes to match your own local kebab shop.
- Finally, shove it down your face.