The origin of the word “kebap” – the Turkish word for kebab – is from kabāb, this can be traced back to a Mesopotamian word meaning cut-up pieces of pan-fried or flame-grilled meat. The word “doner,” comes from the Turkish verb dönmek, or to turn, because it is grilled for hours on a rotating spit and cut into thin slices when the meat is crisp and brown.
• Various sources often point to the 1970s for the introduction of doner to the UK. The claims are often linked to the arrival of Turkish and Greek Cypriots along with migrants from Turkey. In fact, Hodja Nasrettin was the first doner kebab enterprise on record in the UK having opened on Newington Green in 1966
• Perhaps the earliest Turkish restaurant in the UK was Istanbul Restaurant, which served huge meat and meze platters to customers visiting the tiny establishment in Soho, Central London, during the Second World War.
• In the late 1990s the kebab became extremely popular and today you’ll find a doner seller in almost every single British town. There is a kebab shop in Manningtree which has traditionally claimed to be the smallest town in England, with a population of just 700 people, as well as in Thatcham in Berkshire which often claims to be the oldest town in Britain.
From Newington Green, shops serving doner kebabs spread and multiplied. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was huge growth in East London, with kebab restaurants run by the South Asian community operating alongside those serving Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine.
• In Blackpool, kebabs can be found nearly as readily as traditional fish and chips. Vendors in Scotland’s capital offer fine views of Edinburgh’s iconic castle. And Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has a choice of four outlets within walking distance of her home in Windsor. . More than half of shops selling Britain’s national dish, fish and chips also sell kebabs in almost every British village, suburb, town and city. Many fish and chip shops boast a doner spit too. This gives customers a choice of meals and helps keep a fine British tradition alive.
• The most popular kebab shop names are Shish, Istanbul, Best, King, Mangal, Charcoal, Marmaris, Turkish Delight, Diamond many of these are emblazoned on storefronts across the country.
• Researches show that estimated there are 17,000 kebab shops across the UK. As reflected in previous sections, the increase in doner kebab shops was driven predominantly by Turkish, Kurdish, Asian and Greek entrepreneurs around the country
• Approximately 2,000 tonnes of lamb doner meat are produced by manufacturers in the UK every week. There are around 200 doner kebab manufacturers in the UK. Around 1.3 million portions of doner kebab are sold by static and mobile vendors every day.
• The annual retail value of the doner market in the UK is around £4.80 to £6.50..