National Burger Month Day 29: Döner Kebab Burger

On Adalbertsr. 10, in Kreuzberg, Berlin is Hasir's Restaurant. According to my Döner Kebab trading cards, Hasir is "Das Geburtshaus der Dönertasche!" So the story goes that Hasir, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin invented the döner kebab in 1971. Everyone liked it, and now it's the most popular sandwich in Germany. They had similarly prepared meats in Turkey prior to 1970, for sure. Berlin, after all, does not have a monopoly on meat on a spit. And neither does Turkey. There are other versions of this preparation-- gyros, shawarmas, etc. But the particular sandwich as prepared by Mr. Hasir was a thing of beauty. I cannot put into words how wonderful a sandwich he made. I lie awake at night dreaming of eating one of these things again.

Anyway, I decided, for National Burger Month, to attempt to assemble my own döner kebab and turn it into a burger. The night was fraught with challenges. My largest obstacle was the reality of not owning an upright rotisserie grill. So making my kebabs on a regular bbq grill was a little bit of a compromise. I must get a "Set it and forget it" rotisserie oven for future döner kebab construction.

Stuff for döner:
1 lb lamb sirloin
1/2 lb ground lamb
1 large onion
salt and pepper

Stuff for harissa (sauce):
1 large tomato
2 tbsp crushed chili flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp caraway seed
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt

cute lil döners

The night before grilling, I took the lamb sirloin and sliced it up into 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick slices. I also tossed the onion in a food processor and pureed the living daylights out of it until I got onion juice. The lamb strips I marinated in the onion puree overnight and tossed in about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.

In the meantime, I made the harissa sauce. I just took everything in the stuff list and mixed it all up in a food processor. Instead of the fresh tomato, I used some canned plum tomato that was sitting in the fridge.

Finally-- the lamb was taken from its onion bath and mixed in with some ground lamb. I made two batches. One batch I threaded onto skewers (so that I could see if I was capable of making real döner kebabs) and another batch I chopped up into smaller bits and mixed with even more ground lamb to form into patties. These were then placed onto the grill. To replicate the rotisserie oven effect, I sat over the grill and hummed like a machine while I continuously turned the skewered meat around. And for the most part, we had some pretty cute looking miniature döners. John suggested that I take out a tiny knife when it cooks and slice little tiny döner strips. and put them into little tiny flat bread. But I digress. This humming and turning worked for about five minutes. And then we had an emergency. I had just put my burger on the grill and noticed that the grill no longer spewed fire. Tongues of orange flames no longer licked the bottoms of my hunks of meat. After 28 days of working overtime for my burgers, my grill ran out of propane gas.


Dejected but undeterred, I awakened my oven and stove from their slumber and like worker ants, they reported to duty and did their tasks. I finished the burger and the kebabs in the oven, searing the burger first on a hot cast iron skillet before sticking it in the heat.

oh, my pretty burger

The burger I topped with a little harissa sauce and a little yogurt and sandwiched in between two pieces of mini pita bread-- a huge compromise for a döner since the döner pitas are thicker. Another big compromise was that my yogurt wasn't herby yogurt. I should've made a garlic yogurt sauce. In the end, though, this was an amazing, amazing burger. And the döner I will make again as a matter of principle. I must have my döners.

What an epic, earthshattering burger.