oven-roasted döner kebab

Rock and I are obsessed with the döner kebabs we had from this little kebab place that we had stumbled upon near our airbnb flat in the Friedrichschain district when we were in Berlin last year.  Thinly shaved chicken döner, veggies, feta (I think?) cheese, and delicious mystery sauces all sandwiched in toasted Turkish pide bread. Best. Thing. Ever.  We didn’t even know the name of the place we had those kebabs at but a google search shows it up as Döner Dach on yelp and seeing photos of those kebabs, oh man.

For literally months now, I’d google döner kebabs every so often (is that weird?), trying to find a good recipe for Berlin-style kebabs but I could never find anything that seemed like it’d live up to the ones we had.  And of course, we don’t have a giant rotating spit so it had to be a recipe that we could actually make.  Anyway, we recently discovered Nigella Lawson’s recipe for oven-roasted chicken shawarma and it is first of all delicious, but more importantly, it tastes very close to the chicken döner we had in Berlin.  It is also terribly easy!  (According to my not-so-vigorous research, döner is Turkish and shawarma is Arabic but they are very similar if not the same.  Don’t quote me on that though.)  I made this chicken for the second time last night and our friends who are from Germany gave it their ‘tastes like a German döner’ seal of approval, so yay!

For the chicken: 12 boneless and skinless chicken thighs  /  2 lemons  /  7 tbsp olive oil  /  6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced  /  2 dried bay leaves  /  2 tsp paprika  /  2 tsp ground cumin  /  1 tsp ground coriander  /  1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes  /  1/4 tsp ground cinnamon  /  1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg  /  2 tsp sea salt

For an accompanying sauce (adapted from Nigella’s recipe):  2/3 cup plain yogurt  /  1/3 cup mayonnaise  /  1/4 cup tahini  /  2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced  /  sea salt to taste

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Put the chicken thighs in a large freezer ziplock bag (or any large resealable bag).  Grate in the lemon zest and then squeeze in the lemon juice.  Add the olive oil, garlic and all of the spices for the chicken.  Zip closed the bag and mush everything together so that the chicken is all well-coated with the marinade.  Plop the bag into a large bowl or onto a plate and then stick it in the fridge for at least 6 hours or up to 1 day.

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About at hour or so before you intend to start cooking, take the chicken out from the fridge to let it come to room temperature.  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and pour out the chicken and marinade onto the sheet.  Spread out the chicken thighs so that they are all lying flat and not on top of each other.  Roast for 30 minutes (or until it’s cooked through).

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I like to thinly slice the chicken for the sole reason that it reminds me of the thinly shaved chicken you’d find in a proper kebab.

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To make the sauce, simply mix all the ingredients together and that’s that.  I served the chicken with the sauce, some shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, some hunks of feta cheese, some hot sauce, and Rock baked some fresh Turkish pide bread.  The first time we made this, we had it with pitas which was also really good.

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You can eat the chicken with just the veggies and sauce but to make a kebab, simply slice open your bread and stuff everything into it!

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Though this sauce is delicious, it’s not exactly the same as the mystery sauces that Berlin kebab places serve.  If anyone has recipes for those amazing white and red sauces, please share!

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