Tabil Spiced Tunisian Burgers with Citrus-Mint Aioli and Spicy Pepper Apricot Relish

Pairs well with:

White Zinfandel

With strawberry and melon essences, this American original is perfectly at home with however you like to unwind.

This burger is my interpretation of the wonderfully distinctive and exotic flavors of Tunisian cuisine that are readily appearing on menus throughout my multicultural city.



1 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

2 small garlic cloves, peeled

2 pounds ground chuck

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2/3 cup slightly crushed sliced almonds

Citrus-Mint Aioli:

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 ½ tablespoon orange blossom honey

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest (or if unavailable lemon zest)

1 teaspoon finely chopped mint leaves

Spicy Pepper Apricot Relish:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced onions

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 cup thinly sliced fired roasted peppers (from a jar and drained)

1/4 cup stemmed, thinly sliced peperoncini

1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

1/4 cup apricot preserves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon McCormick Roasted Saigon Cinnamon

2 teaspoons spicy chili pepper paste

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Vegetable oil for brushing on grill

6 multi-grain Kaiser rolls or any good quality crusty multi-grain rolls, split

2 cups arugula, washed and rinsed


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

To make the patties: In a small fire proof skillet, toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds, over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Transfer toasted seeds to a small bowl and crush lightly. Using a mortar and pestle, smash garlic cloves until a paste is made. In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, toasted, lightly crushed seeds (coriander, cumin, and caraway), garlic paste, salt, and red pepper flakes. Handling the meat as little as possible, mix the ingredients until combined. Divide the beef mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into equal sized patties to fit the buns. Dividing equally, sprinkle almonds over both sides of patties, press down gently so that almonds adhere to surface of patty. Place patties on a plate or tray; cover. Refrigerate or place in a cooler near grill.

To make citrus-mint aioli: In a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, honey, orange zest, lemon zest, and mint leaves. Stir until combined. Cover; set aside.

To make spicy pepper apricot relish: In a medium heavy duty saucepan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium-high heat on grill (or grill side burner if available). When oil is hot, add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 6-8 minutes, or until fragrant and onions are slightly caramelized. Reduce heat to medium or move to a cooler part of the grill. Stir in roasted peppers, peperoncini, dried apricots, apricot preserves, salt, turmeric, cinnamon, and chile pepper paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until well heated through. Remove from heat; stir in parsley. Cover to keep warm.

Heat grill to medium-high heat. When grill is hot, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack; cover the grill. Cook, turning once, about 4-6 minutes on each side for medium, or until desired doneness. During the last few minutes of cooking, place the breads, cut sides down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

To assemble the burgers: Spread citrus-mint aioli over cut sides of each bottom bun. Top with arugula, a patty, and spicy pepper apricot relish. Close with top buns. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 burgers