The history of this interesting food is as varied as the names it is called. There is little doubt the “kebab method” has been around for thousands of years.

The varied names have geographical origins from different peoples’ languages. Whatever we call them, kebabs or yeeros or gyros are a food nearly all of us have had at some time if not regularly… so please read  on an enjoy a brief history we have compiled.

Nouns - Gyro and Kebabs: Meanings and definitions:

  • A Greek sandwich: sliced roast lamb with onion and tomato stuffed into pita bread.
  • Rotating mechanisms (gyros) in the form of a universally mounted spinning wheel that, offers resistance to turns in any direction.
  • From modern Greek, Yiros or Gyros meaning turn or circle (gyro).
  • Shish kebab comes from Turkish words literally meaning skewer and roast meat considered an authentic Turkish meal.
  • In Turkish, kebap, döner, or donner means turning roast.

A “sandwich”, said to have originated 2000 years ago in Greece. The ingredients, principally lamb, pita bread, grilled vegetables and seasoning were known by people in Greece, the Middle East and Turkey. Certainly in the last hundreds of years roasted skewered meats and spices have been sold on the streets in these places.

Greek historians believe the dish originated during Alexander The Great’s time, when his soldiers used their long knives to skewer meat and kept turning the meat over fires.

Gyros, or kebabs as we know them today originated from these regions and most likely other peoples in these regions.

It is also thought the “modern” word Gyros originated in New York in the1970’s. Americans visiting Greece resulted in this style of food becoming popular during this time.


There is little doubt, that in Australia Gyros’ and Kebabs were introduced predominantly by Greeks and other peoples from the Middle East.  In Australia, kebabs are very popular and perceived as a healthier alternative to large chain convenience meals. Kebabs are usually served in pita or Turkish bread.  In Australian States with a large Greek population they are called kebabs, gyros or yiros.  Sometimes they are called souvlakia, which is incorrect, as souvlakia are skewers with meat and other foods on them.

Beef, lamb and chicken kebabs can be found in all Australian cities.  In Sydney they are served with cheese, salad and tabouli. The pita bread is also known as Lebanese bread. Tomato sauce, bbq sauce, chilli sauce and humus made from chickpeas are popular condiments. Greek garlic sauce or Tzatziki as it is commonly known is a very popular condiment. In Western Australia fried eggs have been known to be added.

The most common method of serving Gyros is to wrap the ingredients in pita bread, or Lebanese bread to form a wrap. There are several methods for serving the wrap:

  1. The wrap is toasted which makes the bread crisp.
  2. The wrap is served without toasting.
  3. In Canberra, the bread and contents are passed under the grill for a while the wrapped.

In Brisbane Kebabs were mostly influenced people with Lebanese origin.

In some parts of Australia shops and mobile street vans selling kebabs are know as "Kebaberies".

There have also been reports that kebab meat is used as a pizza topping in the western suburbs of Sydney, and is added to the normal pizza toppings.


In Greece and Cyprus the meat is typically lamb, beef, pork or chicken. Strips of the meat are put onto the rotisserie. As the meat cooks small pieces of meat are sliced off.

In Athens, and most of Greece, a "pita gyro" will contain tzatziki, tomato, onion and french fries apart from the meat. There are places where other ingredients are added, like mayonnaise, yoghurt, falafel and Russian Sauce, which is a mixture of tomato sauce and mayonnaise.

Today, the most popular meats for gyro in Greece are pork or chicken. A pita gyro with pork will be served with tzatziki as a dressing. Mayonnaise is used to dress chicken kebabs.

In Thessaloniki a "pita gyro" includes tomato, onion, french fries, mustard and/or tomato sauce in addition to the meat.

The breads, called pitas are available in at least three types:

  1. Plain is thickest and about 200 mm in diameter.
  2. Cypriot is about the same size as plain, but thinner and is a two part bread. When the parts are “split” it forms a pocket in which the ingredients are place.
  3. Arabian pitas are larger, flatter and crispy.






History of Kebab
The history of this interesting food is as varied as the names it is called. The “kebab method” has been around for thousands of years. More...







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