Lamb doner is a Turkish dish closely related to a large family of spit-roasted meat dishes from the Middle East and Mediterranean. Döner, as it is also called, is a common street food throughout Turkey, and it is also abundant as a take-away food in many European countries, especially Germany, and in New York City, where there is a large Turkish expatriate population. Making lamb doner at home is a bit difficult, as it requires some special equipment and a lot of room.
Traditionally, lamb doner is made by spit-roasting a leg of lamb on a vertical spit. This cooking technique is ideally suited to street food, as the cook simply shaves off outer layers of meat as they cook. In some regions, cooks make lamb doner by spitting slices of lamb, rather than a whole leg of lamb, which allows cooks to combine inferior cuts of meat, since it's harder for consumers to identify the source of the meat.
Seasoning for lamb doner is usually light. When meat is vertically roasted, the fats naturally percolate through the meat, infusing it with flavor and keeping it moist. Sometimes the outer layers will be rubbed in herbs or oil, but since they are shaved off, this step is often skipped. Some cooks place vegetables on top of their doner roasts as they rotate, allowing the juices from the vegetables to flavor and moisten the meat.
Typically, lamb doner is served wrapped in a piece of flatbread, with consumers selecting from a variety of sauces. A hot sauce is common, along with yogurt-based sauces which may include garlic, herbs, or vegetables. Garnishes like lemon are also very popular in some areas. Vegetable garnishes such as cucumber, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes are not uncommon. In some regions, lamb doner is served on a salad or over rice for a more complete meal.
As a street food, lamb doner is a lot like kebabs, gyros, and a variety of other roasted meats served in stalls all over Europe. The flatbread traditionally served with doner acts as a natural wrap and napkin, making it easy and relatively tidy to eat, and the ingredients are cheap, making a doner stand appealing to entrepreneurs who do not have a lot of capital. Offers of a “doner dinner” which includes salad and rice can be attractive to consumers in a hurry who do not want to deal with putting dinner together at home, and doner lunches tend to be a big hit in business districts.