RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Eritrean Spice Burger with Eggplant and Paprika Yogurt Sauce

Eritrean is a small African nation located near Ethiopia. Its cuisine resembles that country's in many respects. One salient difference is that Eritreans often use yogurt as an accompaniment to spicy meat dishes. Berbere is a spice blend common to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine. It has several different incarnations, but generally hot pepper is the dominant ingredient.

Ingredients 

1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 tbsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon turmeric (plus 2 tablespoons for the yogurt sauce)
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon olive oil (plus oil for grill)
1 large eggplant, sliced into ¼ inch thick circles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, minced
2 lbs. ground chuck
6 sourdough rolls
6 oz. greek-style plain yogurt or strained regular yogurt
1 bunch arugula, washed and trimmed

Instructions 

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Combine fenugreek, cumin, coriander, cayenne, cardamom, 1 teaspoon turmeric, peppercorns and salt in a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet, and place on the grill rack. Toast approximately 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Watch carefully and stir more often during last 10 minutes. Remove and place mixture in a blender. Pulse 30 seconds. Make sure no large chucks of un-ground spice remain. Pulse longer if necessary. You have made the berbere. Split the berbere into two equal parts, reserving one additional tablespoon. Place other half a large bowl and set aside. Mix the oil and the remaining half of the berbere. Lightly coat the eggplant in the oil and berbere mixture. Place the eggplant on grill and grill 2-4 minutes, then flip and grill on the other side until cooked through, about another 1-2 minutes. Place the garlic and shallots in the bowl with the remaining berbere. Add the meat. Form into 6 burgers. Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and grill until browned on the bottoms, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the patties and continue grilling until done to preference, about 5 minutes longer for medium. In the last few minutes of cooking, place the rolls face down on the grill until browned. Mix the yogurt with the remaining turmeric and remaining tablespoon of berbere. To assemble the burgers: Place the bottom bun on a plate and liberally arrange arugula leaves over it. Place one burger on top of the arugula. Arrange the eggplant atop the burger. Liberally coat the top bun with the turmeric yogurt sauce.