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What Youth Eats: Turkish Kebabs Now that we’ve graduated from our tour through Europe, let’s cook what we ate the whole time at home

What Youth Eats
Photo: Adam Warren

Now that we finished up our three city tour through Berlin, Cologne and Amsterdam, its time to shine a light on the one common thread that has kept us alive for these past few weeks of travel and will through pretty much any trip you take to Europe. The “donner kebab.” This is a Turkish style kebab, cooked with chicken, pork or lamb on a vertical rotisserie much like the Greek gyros, Mexican al pastor or Arab shwarma. You can find a corner kebab shop in pretty much every city in Europe, and it is a street food that is highly recommended. These kebab shops definitely look sketchy, are usually cheap and always awesome.

But, of course not all of us are in Europe whenever we please, so below is a quick and easy recipe to make your own chicken donner kebab at home. And washed down with a cold Kölsh, you will feel like you’re sitting on a street corner in Cologne even if you’re actually stuck in your apartment after work on a Thursday night. —Adam Warren


2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (thighs will give the most flavor)

1 ½ cup plain Greek yougurt

2-4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

2-4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of ketchup

6-8 cloves of minced garlic

1-2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 tablespoon kosher salt (1/2 if using table salt)

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 to 5 skewers

  1. In a bowl, combine yogurt, olive oil, ketchup, garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, paprika and cinnamon. Whisk everything together until fully mixed.
  2. Slice your chicken in to 2” chunks, try to keep them all around the same size if possible.
  3. Add the chicken to your marinade, coat everything well, and cover with plastic. Put the bowl in the fridge for 4-5 hours to really get the goods going
  4. Since we don’t have a rotisserie, we are going to use traditional skewers. Side the chicken on each skewer, make sure to pack them fairly tight and try to keep everything in one plane, like a chicken log. You should only need 3-4 skewers for the amount of chicken we are using. If you are using wood skewers, soak them in water for 15-20 mins beforehand so they don’t burn on the grill
  5. Pre heat your grill or bbq to medium high and make sure it is all cleaned and ready to roll
  6. Once you put your kebabs on the grill, don’t move them for a few minutes, this will give the chicken the nice crust that makes these so good. Turn them after 3-4 minutes and continue to cook them for about 6-7 minutes total, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Once you take your kebabs off the grill, you are going to want to cut the chicken super thin to mirror the shaved rotisserie style you find in the kebab shops. Stuff your chicken in to a warm pita or flour tortilla and top with tomatoes, red onion, salad mix and don’t forget the hot sauce and tzatziki (make your own!)… Like I mentioned before, pair these with a good pilsner or European lager for full effect.

Congratulations, you are worldly!

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