Lebanese Lamb Burgers with a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Pairs well with:


Bright and full-bodied, this Zinfandel wine is a curious contradiction in tastes.


Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
1 ½ cups plain Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon Tahini
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Burger Patties
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pounds ground lamb
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack and pita bread
6 thick pita rounds
6 Boston Bibb lettuce leaves
6 slices of red onion
1 cucumber sliced thinly


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

To make the yogurt sauce, combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend.

To make the patties, place two tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch fire-proof skillet on the grill. When the oil is hot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and 1/3 cup minced shallots. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until shallots begin to soften. Next add cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and ground coriander to the sautéed shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until you begin to smell the spices, about 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and let cool slightly. In a large bowl combine the ground lamb, shallot and spice mixture, salt and pepper, handling the mixture as little as possible but making sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the burger patty. Shape into 6 patties to fit the pita bread. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready to use.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook over medium high heat, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the pita bread lightly with oil and place on the outer edges of the rack to toast slightly.

To assemble the burgers, slice off and discard (or use it to dip into any left over yogurt sauce) about one-fourth of each pita and carefully spread the bread apart to form a pocket. Place a lettuce leaf and sliced onions into each pocket. Place a cooked burger patty onto the lettuce and onion and spoon an equal portion of the yogurt cilantro sauce onto the patty and top with 4-5 thin slices of cucumber and serve.

Makes 6 Burgers