Article by James Kay
A lot of us have experienced the delicacy of a doner kebab – particularly after a night out… but how much do you know about how they’re made?
The doner kebab, for us Brits, is often thought of as drunk food or something you scoff on the way home from a busy day of work.
But across the channel in Germany, the doner kebab is seen as a proper meal after it was popularizsd in the country by Turkish immigrants.
Given that the doner kebab in Germany and Turkey is arguably healthier (and nicer) than what we have in the UK, it should come as no surprise that the way in which they are made here isn’t the most appetising.
An episode of Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped took viewers on a captivating journey into the realm of the beloved doner kebab, shedding light on its tantalizing secrets.
Snacking on the takeaway treat, the show’s host Jimmy Doherty said: “Now look at this doner kebab – I want to find out what meat is in it because you can’t really tell, it’s just shavings. Quite bready. I don’t know.”
With a keen desire to unearth the truth behind the meaty mystery, Doherty engages in a candid conversation with the shop owner, who confidently asserts that his rendition is crafted from lamb.
Though the shop owner admits that he wasn’t sure what other establishments use, as the kebab can often also be made from chicken and beef.
Eager to find out more, Doherty ventured to Veli’s Kebabs factory which is nestled in Staffordshire. Here, the concealed components of the doner kebab are laid bare for all to see, whether you like it or not.
During the show, a labourer meticulously examines the meat, revealing: “This has come off one of the big supermarkets. They trim the meat up, they get it aesthetically pleasing for the customer, and the trim that gets leftover we get coming in.
“If [the meat] is labelled up as doner, which everybody associates with what’s on a spit, it should be 100 percent lamb. There are companies out there that are labelling up kebabs and they’re containing beef and chicken – and there have been some instances of pork, which, for the Muslim community, is a big no-no.”
We then get a glimpse of what doner looks like before it’s formed into what we know and love, and let’s just say that it isn’t the most delicious sight.
Chunks of lamb meat are put into a machine which dices them before it’s transported to another machine where other ingredients are added.
Textured soya protein is added to make the kebab cheaper while onion powder and salt are added for flavouring.
The introduction of salt not only elevates the taste profile but also imparts structural integrity, meaning that it can be cut into strips like we’re used to seeing on a Saturday night.
In the end, the blend consists of 85 percent lamb, accompanied by a supporting ensemble of five percent bulking agent, five percent rusk, and an artful balance of seasonings.
It’s safe to say that people who viewed the show were less than impressed, as one person took to Twitter to write: “So glad I don’t eat Doner kebabs after watching Food unwrapped.”
A second person said: “Watching food unwrapped on 4 not that I eat Doner Kebabs any more, however will never eat another now!”
Even with all of this in mind, they’ll still be hard to resist at 03:00 AM on a Saturday.
Featured image: Giacomo Lenci/imageBROKER/Markus Mainka/Getty