beer and food Snacks to beer

Snacks to beer: Doner Kebab

Doner kebab sign, London
From Flickr Creative Commons, taken by Renaissancechambara.

We usually leave recipes to the experts but make the occasional exception when it comes to foods which are an inextricable part of our beer culture.

In Britain, after several beers, when everything else is closed, you can always rely on the kebab shop and everyone’s favourite guilty pleasure: lamb doner kebab. No-one would dream of eating one while sober. The great round of meat is often referred to as an “elephant leg” because it is so heavily processed that it’s hard to be sure exactly what it is composed of. Meat, fat and salt are the three main ingredients but beyond that… Asbestos? Industrial grease? Who knows.

Nonetheless, they are delicious, and we decided to make one at home so that we could feel a bit less grotty eating it.

We were inspired partly by Kenny McGovern’s The Take Away Secret although we ended up adapting his recipe substantially for our own. The main tip we picked up from McGovern is the importance of garlic powder. It’s the magic ingredient in most fast food.

Ingredients (for 2-3)


* 300g lamb mince or cubes of stewing lamb

* One lamb’s liver

* 30g porridge oats

* 1 tbsp plain flour

* spice and herb mix: tbsp garlic powder, tbsp italian herbs/mixed herbs, tsp Cayenne pepper, tsp salt

For cooking the kebab

* 1 tomato

* half an onion

To serve

* bread of your choice (naan, pitta, Turkish pide, etc.)

* salad of your choice

* chilli sauce, garlic mayonnaise, etc., to taste



1. Grind up all of the kebab ingredients until they form a fine, cohesive paste. If the mixture is too liquid, add a handful more oats.

2. On a piece of oiled clingfilm, form into a log or loaf. (N.B. it won’t look nice between this point and when you slice it. Sorry.)

3. Wrap it up in the clingfilm like a sausage, twisting the ends until it forms a tight roll. Put that in the fridge for a few hours.

4. Heat the oven to 120 degrees centigrade. Remove the meat from its wrapper and put it on a lightly greased non-stick roasting tin or baking sheet. Put slices of tomato and onion on top. Cook at 120 for two hours, turning after an hour.

5. When it is browned all over, take it out of the oven and leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes while you prepare your bread and salad. Then slice it as thinly as possible along its length. An electric carving knife would probably work best but a bread knife is a good alternative.

6. Layer bread, salad, meat and sauces.

7. Eat with a flimsy plastic fork on a blood-spattered pavement, after dark, with the sound of sirens  in the distance.

And here’s our chicken doner recipe, now sadly outdated. We’ll be reviewing and rewriting it soon. Short version: more garlic powder!

11 replies on “Snacks to beer: Doner Kebab”

Yeah, definitely, if you up the herbs and spices a bit, and maybe throw in something for a bit more fat content. Suspect the meat content in the real thing is pretty negligible.

“The Veggie Doner Company” has a certain ring to it, actually….

I have it on very good authority, the lawyer for what we call a “donair” maker over here in Canada but with (at least according to Nova Scotian standards) impeccable Lebanese roots, that you have forgotten one key ingredient: white sugar.

“No-one would dream of eating one while sober.”


When I was a student in Brum, one of my favourite Sunday evening treats was to wander down to Ali Baba’s on Bristol Street (sadly no more) for a doner/chicken mix on fresh garlic naan.

Al — and, in fact, we know of at least one person who used to eat doner meat pizza once a week while studying in Leeds. So you’ve blown our generalisation out of the water…

Alan — sugar? Hmm. Guess that might add something. More caramelisation on the outside, for one thing. Will try it next time.

Sadly not, sorry. Dead camera. We didn’t have photos to work from, though, and it turned out OK.

Any particular bit of the process you’d like to know more about?

I will eat them sober. Although perhaps they arnt as grotty here in NZ.

If the worst secret ingredient to fast food is garlic powder we are doing ok, I suspect there are far worse ones however.

I have an intolerance to added MSG, and I certainly learn which foods do and dont contain it.

Leigh — got the idea to add liver from the supposed official recipe for White Castle burgers — they’re supposed to have it in, too. Makes the meat more moist, bulks it out, and adds “meatiness”. Couldn’t taste it but certainly think it helped with the consistency.

A lot of what’s in the book is questionable — common sense and guesswork rather than knowledge of secret recipes, etc.. — but it’s quite inspiring.

If you can’t give up junk food, at least learn to make it well at home…

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