This Middle Eastern burger is a great way to add new life into a pound of ground beef. Although lamb is traditionally used, ground beef or turkey can easily be substituted for a more economical dish.
My college boyfriend was from Pasadena, and when we were in L.A. on weekends, I would spend time at his house cooking with his mom, who is half Lebanese. From Mrs. M., I learned how to make tabbouleh, tzatziki, hummus, work with phyllo dough, make baklava, and something called kibbeh nayyah.
Kibbeh nayyah is ground, raw lamb, mixed with bulghur and kneaded into almost a paste. It’s served with a drizzle of olive oil and raw chopped onions. There is a cooked version which has a layer of toasted pine nuts in the middle. For obvious reasons, I haven’t eaten beef steak tartare or kibbeh nayyah since the mid 80’s, but I make the cooked kibbeh a lot. Although I usually use ground lamb, it’s pretty hard to come by in a regular grocery store.
I’ve mentioned before that I always keep a pound of frozen ground turkey on hand. With it, I can travel to a lot of different countries, depending on the spices I use. Last night I felt like a whole Middle Eastern experience, so I decided to combine the 2 versions and make a kibbeh turkey burger.
I served the Middle Eastern burger inside of a pita, with homemade tabbouleh, tzatziki and hummus. I know it sounds daunting to make all 4 items from scratch, so make the Middle Eastern burger and tabbouleh, but purchase the hummus and tzatziki.
The recipe for homemade hummus can be found here.
I hope you enjoy this Middle Eastern burger recipe!
- 1 lb. ground turkey or lamb
- 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 med. onion diced
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
- 11/2 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- a couple of pinches of nutmeg
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tsp. salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided.
- Makes about 4 6 oz. burgers or 5 5 oz. burgers
Saute the onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent, but not brown.
Soak the bulghur in the hot water for about 10 min. Squeeze out the excess water.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, including 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix with your hands, kneading and mixing the meat.
Saute a small portion to test for seasoning. Adjust if necessary
Form into patties and grill, turning once.
Serve inside a pita with onions, lettuce and tzatzki sauce.
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
- 1 cup. Greek yoghurt
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- A couple of sprigs of mint leaves chiffonade (One Minute Food Byte video link, how to chiffonade basil)
- salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, sprinkle the cucumbers with salt to release some of the water. Let them sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse several times. I like the sauce a little chunky, but feel free to make it smoother if you desire.