Zest and Herbs

Lamb and barberry burgers

In my last post, I wrote about how barberries were once a common sight in European kitchens but have been completely forgotten over the last 150 years, so I decided to embark on a touch of fusion. Inspired by the food of the Middle East, where barberries are still a part of the cuisine, I’ve incorporated them into a lamb burger with some mild spices and a garlic and mint yoghurt (a tzatziki without the cucumber, if you like). The sourness of the barberries adds a bit of sweetness and sharpness to counterbalance the rich and fatty lamb mince (and the mince my dad and I bought to make them, was very fatty indeed).

Lamb and barberry burgers with a garlic and mint sauce

Where the burger experts will disagree with me most however, is regarding the inclusion of raw onion. They will argue that because the meat cooks quickly, the onion will still be raw and crunchy unless it’s precooked. But, without the luxury of your own mincer that can provide a nice coarse texture to add some bite to your burger, a little onion, very finely chopped, will cook enough to lose it’s raw edge, but ensure you still get some bite from the finely minced meat you might get from a supermarket. That’s my justification anyway, which mostly comes from a rationalisation of the way my dad has always made his burgers.

One burger is plenty for one person. Two, with a little salad for the conscience, will satisfy a more voracious appetite. Like the one I’ve inherited from my father.


  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 tbsp dried barberries
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ onion, very finely chopped (optional)
  • Lettuce and bread rolls to serve

For the garlic and mint sauce

  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 1 small clove of garlic, finely grated or puréed
  • ½ tsp dried mint

Combine the meat, barberries, spices and onion if using in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Don’t overmix though, or you risk turning the meat into something more resembling a pâté. Shape the meat into 4 equal size patties and set aside. They will shrink somewhat during cooking, so it’s best to make them a little bigger than your rolls. To make the sauce, simple mix all the ingredients together and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a frying pan large enough to fit all the burgers (or two), heat a very small amount of oil until very hot and cook the burgers for two to three minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Meanwhile halve the bread rolls and lay the lettuce on the lower side of the bun (so juices from the meat soak back into the burger, rather than the bread). When the burgers are cooked, place the patties on the lettuce, and spoon over the garlic sauce. Makes 4.

Lamb and barberry burgers with a garlic and mint sauce

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This entry was posted on July 17, 2014 by in Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .

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