RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Persian Excursion Burger

This burger is inspired by the exotic flavors of Persian cuisine. Ingredients such as Sumac, Cardamon and Saffron are sure to tempt the most adventurous of palates. To complete the experience, the burger is finished off with a traditional topping of Maast-O-Khiar, a savory combination of cucumber, yogurt and mint. This burger is a tribute to one of the best Persian cooks I have ever known, my brother Razi, who lost his battle with cancer last year.

Ingredients 

Maast-O-Khiar:
1 cup plain yogurt (whole milk)
½ large English cucumber, grated
½ large Vidalia onion, grated
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
Grilled Vegetable for Topping:
1 large red bell pepper
Beef Patties:
1 ½ pounds fresh ground sirloin
½ large Vidalia onion, chopped
Rind of 1 lemon, grated
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons Sumac, ground (popular spice used in Middle Eastern cooking)
16 saffron threads
2 cardamon pods, ground
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, ground
1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
4 ½ ounces feta cheese, drained and cut into
6 - 3/4 ounce cubes
Saffron Toasted Pita:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
16 saffron threads
12 mini pita breads
Vegetable oil for the grill

Instructions 

Preheat gas grill to medium high. To make the Maast-O-Khiar, place yogurt into a small mixing bowl. Add shredded cucumber, Vidalia onion and fresh mint to yogurt. Stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate while preparing patties. To prepare grilled vegetable for topping, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice vertically into 6 strips. Set aside. To prepare patties, combine ground sirloin, chopped onion, lemon rind, parsley, sumac, saffron, cardamom, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine ingredients gently to avoid compacting the mixture. Divide into 6 equal portions. For each patty, take ½ of each seasoned beef portion and flatten. Place one piece of feta cheese in the center. Place the remaining beef from the portion on top and shape into a patty. When the grill is ready, brush the grates with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. To grill the vegetables for topping, place red pepper strips on the grill. Cook until grill marks appear on first side and turn. Continue grilling peppers for an additional 3 – 4 minutes. Set aside. To cook patties, place patties on the grill, cover and cook until the bottom of the patties are brown, approximately 4 minutes on the first side. Turn patties and continue grilling until done to preference, about 4 minutes for medium. To prepare the saffron toasted pitas, during the last few minute of cooking the patties, combine melted butter with remaining saffron and brush on both sides each pita. Grill until lightly browned on each side. To assemble each burger, place cooked patty on a toasted pita. Add one slice of grilled red pepper. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of the Maast-O-Khiar and top off with another pita. Serve immediately and enjoy! Makes 6 burgers