Persian Burgers with Pomegranate Yogurt, Pistachios, and Grilled Tomatoes

Pairs well with:

Cabernet Sauvignon

This rich red easily complements your homemade chicken dishes, red meats, game, and mildly seasoned pastas.

If you’ve been to Los Angeles, you’d know that there is a large population of Persian people (who moved here from Iran).This burger is my attempt to really capture their culinary culture all in one burger. You have a delicious patty with lots of Middle Eastern spices and herbs. You have a succulent Pomegranate Yogurt and some pieces of crunchy pistachios thrown on the burger for good measure. There also are some grilled tomato slices (grilled tomatoes are an extremely common side dish to the popular Persian kebabs). Put it all on a toasted sesame seed bun and you have the ultimate Persian burger. And by Persian burger, I mean a really L.A. kind of burger!


Pomegranate Yogurt:
1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 onion
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds ground chuck
2 teaspoons ground sumac (if available)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
6 large, 3/4-inch thick slices tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pistachio nutmeats (pistachios without their shells), toasted and chopped
6 sesame seed buns, split


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

To make Pomegranate Yogurt, in a small mixing bowl combine yogurt, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice; mix well to combine. Refrigerate until serving.

To make the patties, brush the onion with olive oil and grill for about 8 minutes. Remove from the grill; when cool enough to handle, remove any excess char and finely dice. Combine the onion, beef, sumac, cumin, coriander, mint, dill, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handling the mixture as little as possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the buns.

Brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Brush the tomatoes with olive oil. Add the tomatoes to the grill; place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Flip the tomatoes when you flip the burger. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers, spread some Pomegranate Yogurt over the cut sides of the buns. On each bun bottom, sprinkle equal amounts of pistachios, top with a slice of tomato, and top with a patty. Add bun tops and serve.

Makes 6 burgers.