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Stirred not shaken – lamb burgers with mint

April 22, 2011

Lamb burger with mint

Fortune tellers, tarot card readers, horoscopes – I wish that just for fun I could believe they offer a grain of truth, but I just don’t get it.  Same could be said about ordering a burger in a restaurant.  Don’t get me wrong, I like burgers. I’ve been through that stage of life of staggering into a burger joint late at night with alcohol fuelled hunger (this was in the days that John Gummer was feeding his daughter  hamburgers in front of the media).  I do wonder occasionally whether I have become a mad cow…but I digress.  I like to eat burgers fresh from the barbecue or cast iron griddle and preferably when no one is watching to see the mayonnaise and gherkins slide down my chin.

I was invited the opening ceremony of a new burger joint, heavy on nostalgia.  It sounded like fun.

The concept was based road side burger stand – something remembered fondly by many Americans by all accounts.   As a Brit it seems like an equivalent affection for the kebab van on a Saturday night but I even found one stand in Hollywood given landmark status to stop it from closing.

The staff were super-friendly, the welcome warm, and around me, lots of diners, many of whom had queued to eat this food in the US, were in heaven. But I was a bit mystified by it all.

Herbs in my garden

We live in a culture of supply and demand and who can blame businesses for supplying food that people will queue up for.  But it’s still ‘fast food’ and my burger and fries contained 1879 mg of sodium (the RDI in the US is 2400 mg and 1600 mg in the UK).

The UAE has one of the biggest obesity and diabetes issues in the world.  Why celebrate someone else’s cultural nostalgia when there is so much fantastic  and healthy Middle Eastern food to draw from?  Wild Peeta has shown how it can be done, but why aren’t there more imitators of this sort of concept?

So I’m campaigning for the kofta!   I have no way to prove that this lamb burger is better for you than the ones served up in a burger joint, but replacing cheese with home-made hummus, using fresh mint and tomatoes from my garden, with olive oil, makes sense to me.  No one can stare when I’ve got crumbs on my chin either.

Frying the lamb burgers

Lamb burgers with hummus and mint (adapted from a recipe by Alistair Hendy in Home Cook)

Makes 6 large or 12 small burgers


1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lamb mince
1-2 teaspoons dried red chilli, crushed
black pepper
1 bunch of mint
pitta or arabic bread
approx 150g hummus
1 lemon
olive oil

Home grown tomatoes

Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a non-stick or cast iron frying pan (dry-fry them) until then start to turn golden.  Mix them with the sea salt (you’ll have much more than you need for this recipe).

Fry the onion and garlic with 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture in a little olive oil until the onion is soft and transparent.  Mix this with the lamb, about a third of the mint, finely chopped, the dried chilli and some black pepper.

Shape the lamb mixture into burgers.  If you don’t want your burgers slightly pink make into 8 smaller rounds (more like kofta).  Brush with some oil and fry in a pan or grill on a barbecue until dark brown on the outside and cooked to your liking in the middle.  2 minutes each side, especially with the larger sizes, will give you pink lamb.

Warm the bread, split open, spoon in the hummus generously, stuff with the mint leaves and lastly the burgers sprinkled with a little extra seed salt and a squeeze of lemon.  A grilled slice of aubergine is also a great addition.

Lamb burger

Love to hear your thoughts about this one.

  1. April 22, 2011 7:55 am

    Here here! Nice looking burgers. I love Arabic bread – that thick stuff, not the thin pita bread. It tastes good with almost anything in it.

  2. April 22, 2011 11:57 am

    Sally these look amazing. I love your writing and your recipes are just yummy. I love making home made burgers and don’t have a recipe for lamb burgers so I will try these. Now I’m craving hummus and gherkins too. With the flat bread I can imagine they’d taste like shwarma-burgers! Yum.

  3. April 22, 2011 1:35 pm

    Looks delicious, Sally! Part of the reason I cook (and bake bread) at home, is so I can cut down on the salt. Don’t get me wrong, we still use a lot of salt in our cooking, but at least I know what I’m adding. Cutting it back in our bread was particularly important, as the boys eat so much of it!

  4. April 22, 2011 3:17 pm

    I can say nothing about the burgers(since I haven’t eaten such thing for more than 16 years), but look at those tomatoes! A wonderful harvest! And I love your herb pots! By the way, have you tried of those nasturtiums in salad. I here they bring an interesting taste. Ivan’s mother have them in her garden, but when I told her we could include them in the salad she wasn’t very happy of the idea 🙂

    • April 23, 2011 2:38 pm

      I love nasturtiums for their looks and their taste!

  5. April 22, 2011 5:01 pm

    You’ll go no argument from me. I’m totally with you on this one. I think a yogurt sauce would work well with all the fresh garden ingredients.

  6. Sherri Voebel permalink
    April 22, 2011 8:18 pm

    Sally, if a restaurant produced your lovely Lamburgers, they would certainly be an overnight success! These lovely Lamburgers look very tasty and the flavor combination sounds absolutely scrumptious.

    The cost of lamb in the US is extremely expensive and beef has been promoted for years. High in fat and low in flavor. However, like UK Cardiologist, the American Heart Association is recommending 1500 mg. of sodium per day, not per meal! “Fast foods” are high in sodium and low on flavor. Contributing to high blood pressure and an extended waist line.

    I hope to be able to cook with lamb and other fresh ingredients again very soon.

  7. April 22, 2011 9:48 pm

    I love this version of a shawarma burger. I think burgers are something that taste much better prepared at home….more wholesome and tasty. And love how plump yours look 🙂

  8. April 23, 2011 12:14 am

    Give me middle eastern kofte over burgers any day!

  9. April 23, 2011 7:40 am

    I really love this healthier take on burgers…while I did indulge in cheesy crazy unhealthy burgers recently 😉 to be honest, it’s nice to bite into something wholesome. And I love that cheese has been subbed out for hummus, creamy, flavorful, yet healthy. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  10. April 23, 2011 2:59 pm

    Ahh yes. I agree with you 100%. I am a great lover of the Middle-Eastern cuisine and it is a lot healthy than standard western cuisine by leaps and and bounds. I have been making kofta burgers lately as a weekday dinner and they taste far superior than the plain beef burgers with cheese.

  11. April 26, 2011 11:37 am

    Sally, I keep meaning to sit down and say: Y. U. M. It’s sort of tradition to cook at home on our birthdays in my family (mine is looming) — a way to get exactly what you want. I am thinking this year of pinning Dave with the job of recreating your lamb burgers for me. I love lamb, I love hummus, I love mint, tomatoes…etc. To die for! Thanks so much for sharing. Again, I leave your blog hungry.

    • April 27, 2011 8:27 am

      Great idea Stephanie – although my husband doesn’t believe I like his cooking so would be amazed if I asked him to do this. Have a lovely birthday.

  12. April 27, 2011 1:23 am

    Ahhhh, I want one of these right now!!

    • April 27, 2011 8:29 am

      Thanks for all the nice comments. Must make it clear that the chocolate recipe is only sourced and cooked by me…certainly not made up by me. I would recommend it heartily though – the combination of chocolate and spice is really good.

  13. April 27, 2011 9:05 am

    These look delish Sally. I love homemade burgers, dont know why people dont make them more (instead of takeaways, or those funny patties that supermakets sell in the freezer??), lamb is one thing we do have plenty of here, yet I tend to go for beef, must try lamb burgers this week, yum!

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