Authentic Chicken Doner Recipe
One of my favorite places to grab lunch during the week is this little hole in the wall Turkish spot a couple blocks from my office. Several of my coworkers had raved about it, so one day I tagged along.
"What would you like, sweetie?" the cashier asked
"Chicken kabab, please." That was the only thing I really recognized on the menu.
"Shish or doner?" Apparently there is more than one variety of a chicken kebab.
"Uh. Uh. Doner?" I responded, even thought I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When I opened the container back at the office I was certain that they gave me the wrong order. It wasn't chicken skewered on a wooden dowel with some vegetables. It was just some chunks of chicken covered in some sort of red sauce (I wrongfully assumed tomato), over a bed of rice. Sure it looked edible, but it wasn't what I ordered. My coworkers had never ordered the chicken doner off the menu, so they couldn't provide any assurance that what I ended up with was actually good. Despite all that, I decided to dig in.
"Oh, this is pretty good!" I thought to myself after the first bite. Then I proceeded to clean my entire plate in a matter of minutes. It wasn't just good, it was freaking fantastic!
A few months later, my husband and I went on our trip to Berlin and find out doner kabab is actually one of the most popular fast food dishes in the city. There is practically a doner kabab place on every corner. (I knew these were my kind of people!) Once we returned home from our trip, I made it one of my goals to try to recreate my favorite recipe.
How to Make It
I started by perfecting the marinade. Really, it's all in the marinade. I combined some olive oil, lemon juice, paprika, garlic, coriander, and a bit of cumin in a shallow dish and gave it a good whisking. I tossed in about a pound of chicken thighs, making sure every nook and cranny of the chicken was covered in the marinade.
Side note: I prefer chicken thighs in this particular recipe because the meat stays nice and juicy. You could make it with chicken breast, but it might become too dry.
I let the chicken sit in the oil and spices for about 6 hours (overnight would be preferred), then I seared them in a cast iron skillet over high heat, and transferred them to the oven to continue cooking.
Once the chicken was cooked through and has rested for a bit, I chopped it up into chunks and plated it along with some lavash (flatbread), hummus, and a yogurt sauce (pretty much a tzaziki sauce).
The first bite was just about as good as my very first bite of chicken doner all those months ago. My husband and I piled the chicken onto the lavash and topped it with the hummus and yogurt to make a delicious gyro-esqu wrap. No matter how you eat it - in a wrap, on rice, on lettuce, and by itself. It is always delicious!
- 1 - 1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp cumin
- In a bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, garlic, onion powder, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes. Place the chicken in the dish and turn to coat the chicken in the marinade. Let sit for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a skillet over high heat. Place chicken thighs in the skillet and sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes on each side. Place skillet in the oven and continue to bake until the chicken cooked through.
- Remove chicken from the skillet and let rest on a plate or cutting board for 5 minutes. Then chop the chicken thighs into small pieces. Serve with pita, flatbread, rice, lettuce, and/or hummus.