Donairs are a popular fast food in Canada’s Maritime provinces, particularly in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s a local interpretation of a classic Turkish doner kebab. Donairs are made with spiced meat and served with a sweet-garlicky sauce in pitas, on pizzas or in submarine-style sandwiches. My grandmother was quite fond of donairs and would sometimes take us to the local Pizza Delight so she could have one. You can even buy donair ‘kits’ of meat, sauce and pitas in some Maritime grocery stores and I would take one to her house on occasion for a donair lunch. I have also seen the kits in the frozen section of Sobey’s stores in Toronto. However, it’s pretty easy to make a reasonable version at home and doesn’t require anything too exotic – most of the ingredients should be available at the supermarket. It may not be quite the same as your favourite take-out donair but it will do in a pinch until your next trip down East!
Nova Scotia-Style Donairs
Makes 6 donair pitas
- 300 ml (10 fl oz) can sweetened condensed milk (about 1-1/4 cups)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 lb. (500 g) ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon mild paprika
- 2 teaspoons water
- 6 Greek style pitas (without a pocket)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella
- 1 to 2 teaspoons canola or safflower oil
- 6 pieces of foil to wrap pitas
To Make Sauce:
- In a medium bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with vinegar and garlic powder. Stir with a spoon until mixture is thoroughly combined and thick. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Make Donair Meat:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef with all seasonings, flour and water. Using your (clean!) hands, mix until the spices are evenly distributed through the beef.
- Press meat mixture into a standard size loaf pan and press down well so it is quite compact. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the meat is just cooked through the middle. Do not overcook or it will be dry.
- Let meat cool and prepare ingredients to assemble pitas. Meat can be baked in advance and refrigerated until use.
To Assemble Pitas:
- Slice meat into thin slices. Heat a skillet and add a small amount of oil. Brown slices of meat briefly, until heated through. Heat pita breads in a dry skillet, the oven or on a countertop grill.
- Place each pita on a square of foil. On each one, layer grated mozzarella, some meat slices, diced tomato, onion and a spoonful of sauce. Wrap in foil and serve.
Warning: These donairs are very garlicky! Avoid social situations and vampires after eating.
Bon Appétit and Enjoy!