x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Doner or shawarma, it’s heaven in a flat bread

The Turkish immigrant, Kadir Nurman, who popularised doner kebab in Western Europe, dies at 80.

Life in the UAE just would not be the same without the shawarma, that enticing mix of crisp roasted meat, salad and a tangy sauce packed into flat bread. It has been the downfall of innumerable good intentions of those wishing to lose weight.

But this fabled Arabian meal is an import, albeit one adopted so enthusiastically when it arrived in the region in Ottoman times that it is now deemed an informal national dish of the Emirates.

The shawarma took its time to become established in western Europe, really becoming a culinary fixture only with the influx of guest workers to Germany after Second World War. But under the name of doner kebab, it became just as diet-defeatingly popular there as it is in Abu Dhabi.

So a degree of mourning is understandable in Germany this week about the death of Kadir Nurman, the man credited with creating kebab culture in the country by building a vertical rotisserie as part of the food stall he opened in Berlin in 1972.

Nurman, a trained mechanic, never patented his invention. And so instead of becoming rich from the 16,000 kebab outlets in Germany now, he took solace in having introduced to a new group of people the delights of the meal we know as shawarma.