Vegetarian Doner Kebab wrap recipe, far better than the original
Time: prep. 15 min
marin. min. 30 min
cook 10 min
Yields: 2 portions
Today, all over the world, döner is one of the most popular ethnic foods. But let’s clarify an etymological question: Kebap (in Turkish spelled and read with a final p), is a generic name used for all meats cooked on the barbecue (it can also be chicken, as long as you specify); it is even used for those that simulate charcoal cooking using certain spices or for combinations of vegetables, even though they are cooked by other means: in a pan, in the oven, under the grill or “inside an amphora”!
The adjective Döner, on the other hand, means ‘something that rotates’, which can be a tower Döner Kule, or a cupboard – Döner Gardrop: so if it is the meat that rotates, it becomes Döner Kebap.
Even if you don’t know all these details, I know that many of you love it; in fact, if you type the phrase “Doner kebab near me” into the most popular search engine, about 8 million results come up: a force to be reckoned with, if we consider the competition from the various multinational fast food chains, which are present on every corner.
In Germany alone, more than 400 tonnes of meat become Döner Kebab every day… to be transported to all EU countries and generate a retail turnover of around EUR 3.5 billion. Yes, but if you think you’re eating a healthy dish, or just a better one than you would find in classic fast food, you’re sadly mistaken; in fact, the percentage of fat content increases as the quality goes down, making this sandwich easy to swallow, but also considerably difficult to digest.
I would like to add some more useful information, as an expert in HACCP; consider that in Turkey the sale of doner is well regulated; there are rules to be respected to protect the consumer from any sort of fraud; for example you can order a sandwich from various prices depending on whether it is 30, 60 or more grams; in addition you will be safe also in terms of health, since the fat content by law can not exceed 25% and the salt can not be more than 2%; moreover the doner kebab can not contain starch or soy – except for the seasoning and / or spices (*): so premium quality, but again in spite of all this control and attention from the authorities, we do not eat Döner in every place, not ever!
Therefore, when I was living in Italy, during the period in which I was eating meat without self-imposed limits or “uncomfortable questions” (to understand the reason of my later choice, you can read here), I avoided the succulent call of my homeland, because for me it was a real URO (unidentified rotating object): I do not want to offend or blame honest kebab producers, but you just cannot easily trust when it comes to processed meat products!
To be added the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (in particular benzo(a)pyrene, B(a)P), for which according to a study carried out, almost half of the samples examined exceeded the maximum permitted limits and all were above the tolerable levels (2), tasty yes but possible carcinogens also!
This, and of course the ethical aspects, pushed me to create a real CHE Food Revolution (Cheap, Healthy and Ethical Food) meal: the Vegetarian Doner Kebab wrap.
By now you all know that I am a hearty eater with a real passion for veg-etari-anising traditional recipes; even at the cost of receiving harsh criticism from gourmets.
So enjoy the recipe for my Vegetarian Doner Kebab wrap through which I achieve not only a healthy and ethical dish but also a very light one, without sacrificing taste. I was forgetting to mention the price: a sandwich from the kebab shop costs about 6-8 euros; at my house with organic tempeh two wraps cost under 5 euros for two starving people.
Ingredients for Vegetarian Doner Kebab Wrap
200 grams of tempeh, tofu or seitan (tempeh is more suitable for this dish because it is firmer; it does not change much in preparation or taste if you use seitan or tofu; with seitan you can skip the boiling step)
for the marinade
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
3-4 tablespoons of yoghurt (vegans can opt for soya yoghurt with a little lemon juice)
2-3 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 fresh or 2 dried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 bay leaves
1-2 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cumin (you can increase the amount if you like the taste)
1 pinch of allspice – nutmeg is fine if you don’t have it
1 pinch of thyme and 1 pinch of marjoram (otherwise oregano)
salt and black pepper, chilli pepper or paprika to taste
1 tablespoon oil for cooking
100 g lettuce of your choice (preferably crispy)
1/3 pepper cut into strips
1 tomato, finely chopped
½ onion, finely chopped
A few sticks of carrot or baked potato (optional, but they work very well)
A few finely chopped pickled cucumbers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon of tahini (if you want to know how to make your own read here)
5 tablespoons of yoghurt (read how to make your own here)
1 tablespoon of evo oil
Sumac, mint, isot (roasted black pepper from Turkey) (optional, but they give the right depth of flavor)
First boil the tempeh or tofu in vegetable stock or boiling water for 10 minutes (5 minutes in the case of a pressure cooker).
In the meantime, prepare the marinade in a non-metallic container.
When the tempeh has cooled you can cut it into pieces, very finely from the short side of the rectangle and place it inside the container together with the marinade, trying to wet both sides of the slices with the thick and fragrant liquid; close the container with a lid to prevent air from entering and put it in the fridge.
Leave the tempeh or tofu or seitan to marinate for at least 30 minutes; of course, the difference in flavor is remarkable as time passes: I personally prepare the tempeh in the morning and cook the vegetarian doner kebab wrap in the evening.
Once the time has elapsed, take a large frying pan, grease it with evo oil and sauté the tempeh slices over a high heat, and add the marinating liquid to the pan.
5-6 minutes will be enough to cook the tempeh; but to do a perfect job (not exactly sustainable…) cook it for another 3-4 minutes under the oven grill, so as to create that characteristic crust of the doner.
The title speaks for itself, vegetarian doner kebab wrap. So you will need some bread for this, you can but them or do it yourself.
I recommend using this recipe of Turkish flatbread made with spelt flour and kefir (yogurt), but try to roll out the balls not 20, but about 25-30 cm in diameter, so that you eat less (who am I kidding! No one can eat less with a recipe like this: just be aware of it and prepare more salad than you need).
Make up your vegetarian doner kebab wrap or as they say in Turkey “the dürüm”, by combining the veg doner and salad generously topped with yoghurt sauce; if you like, add ketchup and mustard, without the added sugar. Make a tight roll and close it at one end with a napkin, keeping a plate ready for drippings: this is guaranteed.
The wrap is already perfect and rich as it is, but you should know that you can also enhance it with other delicious sauces such as guacamole, hummus, Turkish-style aubergine salad or babagannuosh; or a vegan mayonnaise. Try to believe.
Enjoy your vegetarian doner kebab wrap and good revolution to all
PS. My husband loves this wrap madly; so much so that he prefers it without a shadow of a doubt to traditional meat doners: I’d say that’s impressive!
1) Codex Alimentarius relativa alle carni fresche e processate TÜRK GIDA KODEKSİ ET, HAZIRLANMIŞ ET KARIŞIMLARI VE ET ÜRÜNLERİ TEBLİĞİ (TEBLİĞ NO: 2018/52) BİRİNCİ BÖLÜM -https://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2019/01/20190129-4.htm
2) Terzi, G., et al. “Determination of Benzo[a]Pyrene in Turkish Döner Kebab Samples Cooked with Charcoal or Gas Fire.” Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research, vol. 47, no. 2, 2008, pp. 187–193. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25564590. Accessed 29 Apr. 2021.