The UK’s diverse range of food has allowed people to exchange not only flavours but cultures. The history and prominence of the kebab is no exception.

The humble doner kebab is a main staple in Britain’s love affair with a night out, the King at 2:30am. 

It can be that little treat for Friday night tea, but is more commonly known as late night grub to sober up stragglers after a night out on the town. Helping to soak up all the booze that you drank after your mates ordered one too many jager bombs. 

However, for many middle eastern people who live here, the kebab is part of a rich food history that goes back centuries. Wherever their ancestors travelled, the kebab was there to reflect their culture, with new variations created to reflect the culture of where they moved too. 

The ‘doner’ in doner kebab is Turkish and means “rotating”. Its origins date back to the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century but would not make its way to what is now Istanbul for another hundred years. Then, to the UK from Turkish immigrants in the 1960’s, slowly growing into one of Britain’s favourite fast foods and contributing over £2 billion to the UK’s economy each year. 

The dish has become popular in many other countries like Germany and Greece. In China, where the kebab is known as “chuan”, it can trace its roots to the Uyghur people in Xinjiang and has spread out across the nation. 

The experience of getting a kebab on a night out can be seen as a highlight. Walking in, the brightly lit strips on the ceiling hit your eyes and you walk up to the counter, ponder if this was the best kebab shop in the area and place your order because you saw what the guy next to you had. 

Carved strips of doner meat are shaved off from a slowly cooked spit, and generously packed into an enormous slice of pita bread, which immediately absorbs some of the grease and creates a glistening sheen over the bread. 

The kebab is then given a large helping of garlic mayo, covering every inch of the brown curls of meat. It’s then placed in a styrofoam box with a broken tab, so the lid won’t shut. All served with a crunchy side of salad of either red cabbage or lettuce and onion, that will most likely never be touched. 

The bravest amongst them top everything off with a pot of the hottest, tongue-melting chilli sauce that must have been shipped in from the fiery pits of hell. They are a special treat for many.

This article was done by Thomas Jackson.