It is with a bitter-sweet sense of regret and yet deep respect that Mug Punting marks the recent passing of Kadir Nurman in Berlin, aged 80.
Kadir, a Turkish immigrant to Germany, was a pioneer in popularising the doner kebab. The idea of grilling huge lumps of meat on a rotating skewer was not new but, so the BBC reports, “Nurman had the idea of selling the sliced meat and salad sandwiched between flatbread so that it could be eaten on the move.” Genius, of course.
Nurman apparently set up a stall in the German capital back in 1972 so that late night Berliner revelers might partake of “something to offset the effects of large quantities of beer.” The number of kebabhauses in Berlin now tops a 1,000. Those Germans eh? Whodathunkit?
The explosion of taste derived from juicy, loosely lamb-related product, carved generously from a thick rotating skewer of the stuff, combined with pitta, salad and piquant chili sauce is now an indespensible modern day classic. Nurman's achievements were rightly recognised by the Association of Turkish Doner Manufacturers in 2011. However, he apparently distanced himself a little from the current manifestation of the beast he created, claiming they had too many ingredients.
I’m probably on the side of Kadir. Simple and effective is best, as an earlier post of mine tried to explain: The Bella Doner
The UK’s first bona fide kebab shop opened in Stoke Newington in 1966. Once Nurman’s doner-on-the-go invention had reached these shores, the industry soon powered up. It currently employs about 70,000 people, supplying and running 17,000 outlets and is worth more than £2bn a year to the economy. Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi recently co-organised a competition to celebrate the achievements of the industry, along the lines of the British Curry Awards. Those Tories eh? Whodathunkit?
Rest easy, Herr Nurman.