What Is Kapsalon?

A. Leverkuhn

Kapsalon is a dish that covers French fried potatoes with various toppings. The major toppings include varieties of meat, as well as certain kinds of cheese, sauces, and vegetables. This street food is common in areas of the Netherlands.

Gouda is commonly used in kapsalon.
Gouda is commonly used in kapsalon.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of the kapsalon dish is the meat that goes on top of the French fries. This is often called doner or shwarma meat, which refers to shavings of meat from large rotating spit. This meat is usually either lamb, goat, or some combination of these with chicken or beef. The words doner and shwarma come from the local names for this food that was brought into the Netherlands and other Western European countries by immigrants from areas of the Middle East.

Kapsalon is common in areas of the Netherlands.
Kapsalon is common in areas of the Netherlands.

Along with the meat, many varieties of kapsalon also use cheese. The most common cheese for this dish is gouda. This cheese is melted over the meat and fries, then capped with additional toppings.

On top of the cheese, cooks who make kapsalon often add a gravy or sauce. For this dish, this is commonly described as garlic sauce. On top of the garlic sauce or gravy, cooks add lettuce or other greens.

Kapsalon is part of a larger category of dishes that involve topping French fried potatoes. One of the most common dishes that resembles kapsalon is the dish called poutine that is popular in French Canada and other areas. While poutine usually involves a hearty gravy and cheese, the kapsalon dish relies specifically on meat, cheese, and greens, for a somewhat healthier result.

Those who understand the origins of kapsalon describe its translated meaning as “hair salon.” According to reports of this food’s creation, the owner of a hair salon originally ordered French fries topped with shwarma meat. This kind of dish caught on, and is now commonly offered in Rotterdam and some other cities.

In addition to the above kinds of meat, this savory treat can also sometimes feature other Middle Eastern foods like falafel. Falafel is a ground flour made of chickpeas. It offers a vegetarian substitute for the shwarma meat, since many of those who may want to try the dish might not eat the varieties of meat used for doner and shwarma.

Kapsalon is a dish in which French fried potatoes are topped with grilled meat.
Kapsalon is a dish in which French fried potatoes are topped with grilled meat.

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