Fast Food #3: Kebabs

Image of doner kebab meat on a spit

I know someone who woke up one morning with a doner kebab stuck to his face.

He’d fallen asleep under the influence of alcohol while trying to eat a takeaway supper in bed and the kebab had slipped from plate to pillow to physog. It did nothing to help his hangover.

I suspect almost everyone’s got a story like that and I mean no disrespect to the numerous purveyors of doner kebabs on our High Streets but I only have to see that weird brown stripey compressed meat turning on its spit for my stomach to turn also.

Why would anyone want to do that to an innocent lamb?

If you are determined to have the real thing and have a lot of time on your hands, Tim Hayward wrote an entertaining piece for Britain’s Guardian newspaper detailing the production of a DIY doner kebab in a recycled spinach tin.

But in the latest in my occasional series on edible fast food cooked at home, I offer instead a recipe for a nice juicy shish kebab. You can make it with boned leg of lamb or skinless chicken breast or both.

It’s quick (apart from the marinade time), it’s easy and you can eat it with all the usual doner kebab accompaniments of pitta bread, salad, and chilli and yoghurt sauces. I just hope it ends up sticking to your ribs, not to your face.

Lamb (or Chicken) Kebabs

Image of cooked kebabs on grill


500g boneless lamb, cut into 2cm (3/4″) cubes or the same amount of skinless chicken breasts

For the marinade:

60 ml olive oil

Juice of a lemon

1 medium onion, peeled and grated

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tspn ground cumin

2 tspn ground coriander

2 tspn sweet smoked paprika

Pinch of cayenne

1 tspn salt

A good grinding of black pepper

For the yoghurt sauce:

250g Greek yoghurt

4-6 fat cloves of garlic

A few good glugs of olive oil

1 tbsp fresh or dried mint, chopped (optional)

Salt and pepper

To complete the dish:

Image of pitta bread in a toaster

4 Mediterranean-style flatbreads or pitta breads

Ready-made chilli sauce

2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced

Finely shredded red or white cabbage and red or white onion, mixed together and dressed with a little lemon juice

Pickled chillies (optional; I’ll post a recipe on Mrs P next week)


Image of onion being grated

Grate the onion and mix it with the remaining marinade ingredients in a large bowl.

Add the cubed lamb and/or chicken, cover, refrigerate and marinate for a minimum of six hours and up to 24.

If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them for half an hour or so before using so they don’t burn.

Just before you want to eat, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing the crushed peeled garlic into the yoghurt, whisking in the oil and adding salt and pepper to taste.

Image of shredded red cabbage

Get the rest of the sandwich ingredients ready because this is going to be a quick assembly job once the lamb is cooked.

Thread the meat onto skewers and baste with a little more of the marinade.

Image of marinated kebabs before cooking

Grill or barbecue over a high heat (or use a smoking hot griddle pan) for 3-4 minutes a side or until cooked through, turning so they cook evenly.

While they’re cooking, warm the pitta or flatbreads.

Open up the bread, spread a dollop of yoghurt sauce on each, put a little cabbage and onion on top, drizzle in some chilli sauce to taste, cram in the lamb, then add a few slices of tomato and the pickled chillies (if using).

Add a few drops of lemon juice and eat while it’s still hot and dripping. Getting sauce on your shirt is almost obligatory.

Image of pitta bread being filled

You can find Fast Food #1: Burgers and Buns here and Fast Food #2: Beef and Onion Pies here.

What’s your favourite fast food? Vote below and I’ll give it a bash.

14 thoughts on “Fast Food #3: Kebabs

  1. Love the word physog! Haven’t heard that for a while. I used to live on chicken kebabs on university…oh, they were so good. Don’t think I’ve had a kebab in ages but these are making my mouth water. I had to have a long ponder about my favourite fast food but I think it has to be good old fish and chips and mushy peas 🙂

  2. Has to be lamb; chicken is absolutely fine, I have no problem with it, but lamb it has to be (for me, any road up). I was in Jeddah on a job a few a few years ago and do you know what I discovered? They have donner kebabs there too, in stalls on the streets, in the soukh and in fact everywhere. I didn’t know we had exported it to the Saudis! Mind you, I suppose I should have realised, after all, we seem to have exported curry to India, crispy Peking duck to China and cream cakes to the Viennese. I understand there’s a secret govt department working on exporting decent beer to Australia …!!!!!!!!

  3. Bah-b-Q humbugs, now there’s an idea. And a lovely Christmas to you too. When everything has quietened down in the NY (that’s 2014, not the colonists’ settlement in America) we really must pop round to say, ‘What-ho, bah humbug’ and bring you some Christmas cake. Chris & Rosemary

    • Love to – will be in touch. We’ve just found what we think is a lamb fillet in the freezer (hard to tell if one doesn’t mark up the bag!) and will turn it into these kebabs for tomorrow supper. Will report back …

      • The mark from the Tasting Panel was a resounding 10 all round. The flavour was fantastic, so thank you so much for the idea and the recipe. Incidentally, Rosemary said to tell you that doner kebab meat in the UK is put together by a business at Lion Barn industrial estate on the edge of Needham Market. Just thought you’d like to know …

      • Well, thank you, it’s lovely to have feedback (sic). I’m so pleased you enjoyed trying the recipe.

        Doner kebabs created on an industrial estate at Needham Market? That really does sound like a Frankenstein experiment. Tho’ maybe without the lightning effects.

  4. I know a guy who went to the kebab shop after a Friday night / Saturday morning. He woke up the next day covered in ‘blood’. he thought he had been stabbed. He realised that was not the case when he found the pitta bread on his foot. A class act.
    Happy Christmas!

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