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Beef Kofta Burgers

With sunshine on tap over the last few weeks, I've been broadening my BBQ repertoire with new flavour combinations for the grill. One of my best discoveries was this delicious beef kofta burger with crunchy veg; tangy pickles, lemony houmous yogurt & crumbled feta; AKA a full Middle Eastern feast in a bun, and it's exactly as good as that sounds.

Someone I follow on Instagram made me laugh by finishing a post with an urging to her followers to ‘Stay cool, go slow and say yes to all barbecue invitations’ – all ideal mantras for getting through the summer months in my view.

I adore barbecues, probably because they were such a rare occurrence at home, reserved for only the hottest, most windless days of summer. The little wrought iron grill would be dragged out of the garage, cobwebs dusted off & charcoal set. My father would set to making burgers with a curious device we had which I can only describe as a burger press, which used finicky waxed paper circles that had to be ordered from a catalogue but made excellent, perfect, butcher style burgers. Potato salad would be prepared by my mother; Superquinn baps would be sliced in advance and placed in a straw basket; strawberries would be hulled & sliced for dessert by whichever child was passing through the kitchen; a tray would be set up with cutlery & condiments for bringing out to the garden. After dinner, as the sun dropped behind the house and the flies began to gather, my brothers and I would have a compulsion to burn leaves on the still-hot barbecue. I can still remember the sour, throat-catching, thrilling fragrance that bay leaves would make as they burned; the satisfying crackle as they hit the grill.


I think a lot of people would have similarly intense recollections of barbecues past etched into their minds. It’s the smells, the noises, the powerful flavours, the unfamiliarity of one’s father being in charge of the logistics of preparing the meal, the kitchen chairs looking so strange in the garden.

  DSCN9779  quick pickled onions

But although I love a plain, dense cheeseburger or a grill blackened sausage and a portion of sun-warmed pasta salad on a paper plate as much as anyone else, I also have a place in my heart for higher end barbecue hits – you know, skewers, stuffed veg, prawns and so on. The following recipe is for a burger that’s somewhere between fancy and family friendly; like an older cousin who’s suddenly become worldly after being abroad for a few months but will still play swingball with you after dinner if you ask nicely.



With quick pickled onions, lemony houmous yogurt & crumbled feta

Serves 4beef-kofta-burgers.jpg

For the quick pickled onions 

Double or triple the quantities if you want more, they’ll last a good while in the fridge in a jar. Make sure to start these well in advance of beginning the burgers as they will need a little while to macerate to soften the vinegar flavour – 30 minutes is a good minimum, but leave them for longer if you can.

1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced

250ml white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoons of caster sugar

A sprinkling of whatever hard spices you fancy, ie coriander seed, fennel seed, pink peppercorns, juniper berries etc.

Place the onion slices in a bowl or jar. Bring the vinegar, salt & sugar to the boil in a small saucepan then take off the heat and pour over the onion slices while still hot. Cover & refrigerate for at least half an hour before using – the longer you can leave them the better they will taste.

For the lemony houmous yogurt

3 tablespoons of pre-made houmous

3 tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (yellow only, avoid the white pith)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Pinch of salt

Stir the ingredients till fully incorporated then cover and refrigerate until required.

For the burgers

450g 5% fat minced beef

Half an onion, peeled & very finely diced

3 tablespoons of tahini

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

Pinch of ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground coriander

Generous pinch of salt & pepper

Mix the ingredients together very gently then divide into four and lightly shape into slightly ovaloid shapes – the less you handle them the juicier they’ll be, but they do need to be quite tightly compacted so they don’t fall apart during cooking. Flatten gently and refrigerate, covered, until required. When your barbecue is ready to grill (ie, the charcoals all have a grey ash coating or the gas grill is preheated) cook the burgers for five minutes on each side for well-done, or until cooked to your liking. If you’re pan frying, heat a pan till very hot with no oil then reduce the heat to medium and add the burgers, moving them slightly initially with a fish slice to prevent them sticking, extractor fan on at full blast. After five minutes, turn them over and cook for another five minutes for well-done; or around four minutes a side for medium well.

To serve

(Any extras can be served on the side as accompanying salads)

4 brioche style burger buns, halved

Radishes, sliced

Half a cucumber, sliced

Quick pickled red onions (see above)

Lemony houmous yogurt (see above)

Handful of herb leaves – coriander, dill, mint or flat-leaf parsley work well

Half a block of feta, crumbled

Baby salad leaves

Lightly toast the burger buns on the grill. Spoon a little of the lemony houmous yogurt onto each of the bottom buns. Lay radish slices over each along with some herb leaves. Top with the burgers, then more herbs, radish slices, cucumber slices, a tangle of the quick pickled onions, baby leaves then crumbled feta. Spread a bit more of the lemony houmous yogurt on the underside of the top buns and place on top, pressing down slightly to bind. Serve immediately with a selection of salads.

Middle Eastern style burgers








9 comments on “Beef Kofta Burgers

  1. This looks delicious!

  2. Those burgers look yummy Ellen. If you come to Martha’s Vineyard this year, we’ll fire Padraig and put you on Burger duty!!

  3. buddz place

    That looks yumi mmmm x

  4. I enjoyed reading this and I appreciate the recipe as well. Definitely going to make this one day, thank you for writing this!

  5. I like that you listed vege and herb combinations in the beef sandwich! Thank you for sharing the recipe. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. yummy! really want to have a go at this! Would love it if you would check out my blog:

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