Doner around the world: How to enjoy a Doner Kebab in Bangkok
Food brings us together; it brings us comfort and sparks conversations. Especially street food as it is down to earth, accessible and appealing to all people, whether local or tourist, rich or poor. Among all the street food available around the world, Doner (Döner) Kebab is arguably the most popular. It originated in Turkey and quickly took the world by storm thanks to its meaty, juicy flavour.
The now worldwide-renowned Doner Kebab can be dated back to the 17th century during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. In Turkish, the word ‘Doner means ‘Rotating’ and the word ‘kebab’ means ‘Roast’, which is fitting because the Doner meat is cooked using a rotating vertical rotisserie.
In general, there are many ways to serve Doner Kebab. In Turkey, the dish can be served with rice, salad or bread. But to the rest of the world, Doner Kebab is mostly known as a street food that is served in wraps, either in a sandwich or a pita.
Personally, I prefer Doner Kebabs served in pitas. Though there are many other ways of serving Doner Kebab, this is also the most common way to serve it.
Doner Kebab served in a pita is usually accompanied by vegetables, sauce, and maybe cheese. Since the Kebab is wrapped in a narrow long shape, each of its ingredients –the meat, the sauce and the vegetable–can be tasted in one bite. It is like a beautiful harmony created in your mouth, and the texture is just exceptional.
Just imagine; the juice of the meat, the rich flavour of the sauce (preferably garlic sauce), the freshness of the vegetables, and the slight spiciness of the glazed onion all come together in one bite…Absolutely amazing!
An uncommon and my favourite combination is pairing Doner Kebab with goat’s cheese, the whole texture and flavour have just gone to a whole new level. With the warmth of the Doner Kebab, the somewhat tart goat cheese will melt slightly in the wrap and add layers of texture and flavour to the Doner Kebab; it is just beyond delicious!
Doner Kebab Served on the Streets of Bangkok
Traditionally, Doner Kebab is made with lamb or beef, but it is common to see kebabs made using chicken as this reduces the cost of ingredients
In comparison to red meat, chicken can be a bit dry when cooking on the rotisserie for too long, but an experienced chef will know how to prepare the meat just as juicy as beef or lamb.
In Bangkok, Doner Kebab can be commonly found on the streets at night. There are many food carts on the side of the road, selling different varieties of food including Doner Kebab.
The food cart will usually have a small rotisserie, roasting the chicken on the side, and the vendor will wrap your Kebab right there in front of your eyes after you have ordered.
To speed up the process, the meat is usually pre-cut and kept heated on a pan.
The vendor toasting the pita on the grill
Doner Kebab served with vegetables and garlic sauce
Doner Kebab wrapped in a pita
Compared with Doner Kebab served in other cities, Doner Kebab vendors in Bangkok tend to pay more attention to the speed of serving.
The meat can be on the drier side as it is pre-cut, but the garlic sauce deliciously moistens it up and the whole Doner kebab sandwich still ends up being juicy. While it is still delicious, it is more tends to be a ‘grab and go’ kind of food.
However, though this version may not be the best flavoured Doner Kebab in the world, it is definitely heart-warming, and fuels most travellers (like me) with satisfying savour.