…and understandably so considering what you’re met with when you walk into a kebab shop: a rotating mound of a greasy substance that is purported to be meat.
How ‘healthy’ your kebab is boils down to two things: your choice of meat and your choice of sauce.
The doner kebab – the preferred option for post rave partygoers – has a shaky nutrition reputation. According to a BBC report in 2009 ‘Trading Standards officers have found doners with up to 22% fat, and up to 12g of salt – that’s two heaped teaspoons, double the recommended daily intake’.
More recently ‘an investigation by trading standards officers has revealed that none of 20 lamb kebabs tested contained just lamb – while four lamb curries out of 19 did not contain any lamb at all.’
Shish kebabs are definitely the way to go if you like Mediterranean tucker without the extra fat, sodium and general aggro of trying to figure out what is actually in your meal. If you’re keeping an eye on your fat intake, chicken is the leaner option.
Sauces are where people usually stumble. Chilli sauce and garlic sauce are the typical choices for kebabs, but house sauce, ketchup and burger sauce are alternative options.
If you can handle it, chilli sauce is the way to go. Although recipes vary from shop to shop, chilli sauce is basically a combination of tomatoes, onions, garlic, mint sauce, vinegar and chillies. No fat and all the benefits that come with chillies – vitamin C, vitamin A and capsaicin.
Garlic sauce is a bit more of a wild card. Traditional recipes only list yoghurt, minced garlic and lemon as ingredients. Unless your local kebab shop is prepared to let you read the label on their garlic sauce, it may be best to ask for it on the side or pass on it all together.
Burger sauce, house sauce and ketchup are definite wild cards. Burger and house sauce tend to use salad cream as a base while ketchup is generally loaded with sugar.
Regardless of the meat and/or sauce you choose, you can notch up the healthy factor by piling on the veggies: cabbage, onions, tomato, cucumbers and peppers.
The bottom line – a kebab is only as naughty or nice as you make it.