The kebab, once known mainly as an end-of-the-night food, has gone gourmet. With epicurean gastro-babs in London, Le Bab and BabaBoom, to Durham's Tango and plenty of places throughout the UK, kebabs have become a dish for starting your night in style, not ending it.
The kebab spectrum
When we say kebab, we're primarily talking about the doner kebab, meat grilled on a vertical rotisserie. But there is also the shish kebab where the meat is cooked on a wooden skewer, or falafel, the meat-free option.
And when it comes to the doner, the seasoned meat, usually beef, lamb, pork or chicken, is slowly rotated next to a roasting hot element, steadily sizzling it. Bit by bit, the outer layer is cooked and sliced off into thin shavings.
This results in succulent meat cooked to perfection, which is then layered onto freshly baked lavash, unleavened flatbread. Add other ingredients like fresh salads, pungent sauces and melting cheese, and wrap it all up. But it doesn't end there. When it comes to gourmet kebabs, the delight is in the detail.
Kebabs have been UK residents ever since they were welcomed with open arms into 1960s London. Their journey was a long one, beginning in the 1700s during the Ottoman Empire. East Mediterranean cultures stacked and grilled meat by rotating it on a horizontal spit. A young 19th century Turkish man named İskender, along with his grandfather, take credit for first conjuring the idea of roasting lamb vertically and inventing a grill that would do the job. But it wasn't until 1945 when the kebab would take Istanbul by storm.
As the decades and centuries ticked by, the meat of the kebab changed. It became leaner, soaked up different marinades and partnered with a spectrum of new flavours, and enter the gourmet kebab.
Le Bab calls itself a 'kebab renaissance project', driven to 'reinvigorate' the dish using traditional methods, seasonal flavours and top Michelin techniques. Using free-range meat cooked on a wood and charcoal-fired robata, Le Bab keeps its ingredients limited but of supreme quality, like with their free-range chicken shish with char-grilled sprouting broccoli pickle and creamy harissa mayo.
BabaBoom is a charcoal kebab kitchen that combines Middle Eastern flavours with quality British produce. We love their saffron and orange chicken shish with coal-fire red peppers served on pillowy house-made Persian flatbreads.
Tango sources all produce locally and uses only meat that is 100% prime cuts, seared and seasoned on the grill. Their chic kebabs are served with fresh and unique flavours. Try their top-notch minty and herby Lamb Kofta with cooling cucumber, mint and garlic sauces to balance that sweet lamb.
Go gourmet with gastro-babs by ordering them at home through Deliveroo.