Berlin’s Gift #3 – Döner

Berlin’s third gift to the world does not directly come from Berlin but still it is so wellknown that this should almost count as Berlinish. We are talking about a pretty important aspect of the typical Berlin life: Nutrition.

Things are so incredibly fast in Berlin, so fast food rules.

Among all the competitors there is one clear winner:
Döner (mit alles und schaf) !


In contrary to the common belief Döner originally comes from Turkey. Some assume it is the same thing as Gyros but it is not. While the Greek prefer sauces on meat, the turkish version is rather modest. The most common and authentic method is to stack seasoned slices of lean meat onto a vertical skewer in the shape of a cylinder.

The stack is cooked by radiant heat from electric elements or gas fired infrared burners. Often meat, tomatoes, and onions are placed at the top of the stack to drip juices over the meat keeping it moist. (See the Wikipedia entry about for more info!). One of the most important things, however, is almost ignored in Germany as well as in many european countries: the tail fat from sheep, which really gives Döner the most authentic taste as well as the moisture the meat needs. Different countries, different tastes.


Döner usually comes in a “pide” which is a flat and thin wheat bread. In Turkey you get Döner in half loaves or special sandwich bread. The usual question in Berlin while buying a Döner is : “Mit alles?” which means if you want to have all that extra sauce, salad and stuff. The second question is “Scharf?” (Omitt the “r” to sound more local!) which means if you want to have it spicey.

Most times both questions are answered with a double “Ja”. The price of a Döner Sandwich varies between 0,99 to 4,50 Euros, depending on where you buy your food from.

But it would be a failure to say that this is the best form of this marvelous food. The most sophisticated version is the İskender Kebap ( Keban of Alexander, the association should be easy for the most). You take a wide plate and cut a fresh baked “pide” in small cubes and lay them on the plate. You cut long and thick slices of Döner meat, seasoned a day ago and pour some hot tomato sauce on them, letting the bread soak in sauce. On one end of the plate you serve two or three spoons of joghurt, you place fresh tomatoes and green pepperonis on the top. To crown it all, you pour melted butter all over the meat which makes it absolutely delicious. As the ingredients are very special and takes a long time to prepare, a good Iskender kebap costs about 10 to 12 times more than a local Döner sandwich.


Although it is not clear when exactly Döner came to Germany, it is very well known that Berlin immediately was ready for the new taste. So Döner almost found a home here and then spread out to Europe and overseas.

By the way, the most popular name for a Döner shop in Berlin is “Ali Baba”, almost every 50th shop has this name.

In Germany the Döner shops make a 1,8 billion Euros turnover per year, thus more than McDonalds and Burger King together. As of 2005, there are about 15,000 Take Away Döner Shops in Germany, probably a couple of thousand of them just in Berlin.
We eat about 400 Million Döners in Germany per year which means every single being in Germany eats about at least 5 Döners in year. A special treat for for Berlin: Did you know that we eat more Döner than Currywurst? The ratio is about 100:1.

There is even a Döner Font for the designers out there who have good taste :


This is good stuff, believe us ! 400 million people can’t be wrong !

Let this be our third gift to the world !

Bon Appetit !

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9 Comments so far

  1. till (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 11:15 am

    Döner macht schöner!

  2. Alexander (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 11:36 am

    Geiler Post, Mete!

  3. max mey (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    allerdings! respekt!

  4. lola (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    Sehr schön. ‘Omitt the “r” to sound more local!’ -> ROTFL!

  5. till (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 2:41 pm


  6. Rebecca (unregistered) on November 28th, 2006 @ 7:43 pm


  7. Hasan Mubarak (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 7:43 am

    We call it Shawarma in Pakistan. If you ever happen to visit Lahore, do try out Paradise Shawarma in Liberty Market… :-)

  8. max mey (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 2:08 pm

    hasan, don’t want to disappoint you, but shawarma is also very popular and favored in berlin. in fact, if if i have the choice to decide: shawarma or doner, i’d go for the first…

  9. bome (unregistered) on December 5th, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

    schawarma(arabic) is made with chickenmeat
    real turkish kebap uses mutton

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