Algerian burger recipe

Spicy Merguez burger with Sumac Roasted Zucchini and Sweet Date “Ketchup”
Again, we’ll start our adventure with a little (very little) geography.  Algeria is in Northern Africa and is bordered by Tunisia, Morroco, Libya, Nigeria, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mali.  It is located on the coast of the Mediterranean across the water from France, Spain and Italy.

Map courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Algerian cooking is amazingly rich in terms of flavors and ingredients.  It was a blast experimenting with the spicy and the sweet flavors typical in this part of the world.  One food that is typical in Algeria (confirmed by a dinner guest who had traveled there) is the spicy Merguez sausage.  I searched all of my local grocery stores, but alas, even Whole Foods failed me, no one carries this sausage around here.  So, I investigated recipes to make the sausage so I could get a sense of the flavors, and we’re using that as the basis of this burger.  The heat of the burger is balanced well by the sweet date flavor of the ketchup and the date yogurt, if you don’t like things so spicy, just cut back on the cayenne and use a standard chili powder instead of the hot version.

I tried four different versions of this burger to get it just right – we 86’ed the mint yogurt and the sliced figs and the fried leeks didn’t work at all as a burger topping.

That being said, the fried leeks were soooo tasty, that I’m including them as a side dish – they’re a pain in the neck (unless you are an expert deep fryer), but they are totally addictive.  Don’t get used to the side dish thing though – with 193 recipes to go, I can’t commit to adding side dishes for each country – many of my friends have pointed out that I might be a little crazy trying for 196…so adding more, forget it.

I should point out that some of the spices are a bit exotic, but not scary at all.  Sumac is the most unusual – it’s kind of citrusy and pink, so that’s fun!  Coriander is the other one that you may not have handy – this is pretty available in major grocery stores, it’s a little perfumy and flowery, smell it – it tastes a lot like it smells.  If you can’t these spices in your local grocery store, try searching online.  I’m a huge fan of, their spices are alway super fresh and in most cases cheaper than at the grocery store (especially when you buy in bulk).  They don’t pay me anything for that mention – in fact, no one is paying me for anything I write here – I’ll let you know if I ever get lucky enough for that to change.

This burger is really easy to make.  You can do the toppings ahead of time and mix up the spices ahead too, so that all you have to do at the last minute is grill the burgers.  The spice mixture makes extra, so use it for a rub on another dish (or make burgers).  The toppings make just enough, so if you are a topping fan (guilty!), make extra.  Also, I tried this with a veggie burger, just sprinkled a bit of the spice mixture on the burger, then grilled it and used all the toppings – it was delicious.

Final note before we dive into it, this is one of our favorite burgers – it is surprising how well the flavors combine – it always leaves us wanting more, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  And, if you do find you love it, try the Afghanistan Burger, another burger with sweet and spicy balance, it’s another favorite.

Spicy Merguez Burgers
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground cayenne
½ teaspoon hot chili powder
2 Tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large clove garlic chopped
1 pound ground lamb
8 thin slices of French bread (approximately ¼ inch thick) lightly toasted or grilled
12 slices of Sumac Grilled Zucchini (recipe below)
4 Tablespoons of Sweet Date Ketchup (recipe below)
4 Tablespoons of Yogurt with Dates (recipe below)

Put first 8 ingredients in spice blender and blend until garlic is

broken down and mixture is homogenous (don’t worry if all of the seeds aren’t pulverized).

Combine 2 Tablespoons of spice mixture with the ground lamb and mix until spices are evenly distributed.  Form four patties and grill to desired temperature (about 5-8 minutes for medium).

Spread 1 Tablespoon of Yogurt with Dates on each of four slices of bread.  Place burgers on top of yogurt mixture.  Top each patty with 3 slices of zucchini and 1 Tablespoon of the ketchup, then cap with the remaining four pieces of bread.

Sweet Date Ketchup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
4 dates chopped
1/3 cup black raisins
½ teaspoon ground sumac
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2/3 cup red wine vinegar

Heat oil in saucepan, add onions and sauté over med heat for about 5 minutes or until soft.   Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Continue a soft boil until sauce is reduced by half stirring regularly.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Pour mixture into a blender.  Puree mixture.   Refrigerate covered until you’re ready to use (preferably at least ½ hour).

Yogurt with Dates
½ cup 2% milk fat Greek yogurt
6 dates pitted and chopped
Small pinch of ground coriander

Combine all ingredients in mini food processor and pulse until dates are reduced to small pieces.  Can be used immediately or refrigerate covered until ready to use.

Sumac Grilled Zucchini
1 zucchini sliced ¼ inch thick (approximately 12 slices)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground sumac

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss zucchini slices in olive oil (make sure both sides are well coated).  Place slices on a cooking sheet .  Mix together coriander and sumac.  sprinkle top side of each slice with the spice mixture.  Roast in oven for 5-7 minutes or until soft.  These can be used hot or room temperature on the burgers


Fried Leek Side Dish
20 oz. Peanut oil
1 large leek
1/3 Cup flour
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sumac
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg

Pour peanut oil into a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat oil slowly to 350 degrees.  While oil is heating, clean the leek and trim off the dark green ends.  Slice the leek into strips and separate out the layers.  Combine the flour, coriander, sumac and salt in a bowl.  Toss the leek strips  n the flour mixture.  Beat the egg in a separate bowl.  Coat the flour covered leek strips in egg, then put them back into the flour mixture and coat them with the mixture.

When oil is hot, drop leek strips a few at a time into the oil and fry for about two minutes or until lightly browned.  You’ll want to do the leeks in batches so that you don’t over fill the pan and risk spilling the oil or reducing the temperature of the oil.

Place fried leeks on paper towel and let sit for a minute or two before serving.  Serve hot.

©Copyright 2011 Linda Monach

This entry was posted in african recipes, lamb burgers, middle eastern recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Algerian burger recipe

  1. michaelmichael says:

    Just a quick note to say I HEART the ALGERIA Burger. I was fortunate enough to be in Linda’s test kitchen for the “second press” of the recipe, and gourmands let me tell you it was lip-smacking good. That Sweet Date Ketchup should be (will be!) bottled and slathered here and there and worldwide everywhere. The recipe truly balances umpteen components without getting muddled, overwhelming, or fussy. Even the most die-hard meat and potatoes eater will be putting the soooo-weee in Sumac and the marry me in Merguez.

    My cardiologist loves the conscientious portion of a 4 oz. patty, but I say double it up in honor of each house of Algerian Parliament. French bread is a nice choice, but I suggest a slightly wider loaf to create just a bit more surface area for a structurally stable sandwich experience. Not too much bread, and not too thick, mind you, so as to strike the right texture and flavor profiles.

    Forget Algeria’s main exports of vegetables, fruits (especially citrus products), figs, dates, esparto grass, and cork (source Wikipedia, so don’t blame me if this information is bogus). The inspiration for the Algeria Burger was there, and is now the finest (de facto) export to here!

    Apropos to exports Linda, I subscribed to your site, yet did not receive an e-mail alert about the new recipe. I’m fine with that so long as I’m in the test kitchen…

    • linda says:

      Thanks for the praise Michael, you’re always a welcome addition to the dinner cast. I don’t know why the subscription isn’t working, I’ll call you this week and we’ll figure it out.

  2. Eerie says:

    lol. As an Aussie, I have to say that we get that reaction to Vegemite all the time.
    All I can say is that it’s not something you eat in huge amounts, this is a common mistake amongst most foreigners trying the spread.
    It’s exactly that, a spread not a paste. Hehehe.
    It’s something that many children in Australia grow up on, usually sparingly on toast with butter and cheese melted on top.
    As for the burgers, it’s the staple of the average Tradesman’s lunch time diet or as a hangover cure.
    The Beetroot really does help and as a tip, a lot of people have pineapple as well or instead.
    BBQ or Tomato Sauce (Ketchup) is also featured on the typical Aussie burger as well as the onions being slightly caramelized.

    • linda says:

      it is funny that several of my friends have an aversion to beets, and this burger has changed their point of view – go Aussies! I did come across the pineapple as a topping in my research, but this burger is already so big that I can’t imagine another layer. It also sounded like a an option vs. a requirement (wishful thinking on my part?). As for Vegemite, it really must be something you grow up with to enjoy – I’m usually pretty open minded on any kid of sauce or topping, but I can’t get behind the Vegemite, in any amount. sorry friend. 🙂

  3. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later on. All the best

  4. Rick T says:

    So, the sumac (which I had to order) came, and I did the Algerian burger. Yum! I liked it quite a bit — heat and sweet is combo that usually works for me. In deference to the less adventurous members of the family, I did go with the “normal” chili powder, instead of the hot, (I had both on-hand, and didn’t cut back on the cayenne). I actually wish I hadn’t — I would have preferred the hotter version, and when I tasted it in combination with the sweet sauce, the zucchini and the bread, I think they would have been OK with it. I had a little bit of the lamb mix left over, since one person got tied up and didn’t make it home for dinner. I cooked that up the next morning as a sausage to go with breakfast, and while there was nothing wrong with it in isolation, the whole array of flavors together is what makes it shine. I honestly didn’t taste the sumac that much in the completed dish, although I could when I was taste-testing an extra piece of zucchini. Since I’ve now got I think I may play with using a variation as a side dish, and maybe with some tomatoes or lentils. For sure I’m going to experiment with it. Anyway, I think Algeria, along with Afghanistan, is going to be making repeat appearances.

    • linda says:

      I’m glad the sumac arrived and you were able to get to the Algerian burger. I’ve now become a big fan of sumac, it’s great with sauted sugar snap peas and basically on any vegetable I’ve tried it with. It is a mild flavor, but I like the light citrus flavor to balance out some of the spicy foods I typically eat – plus it’s pink, which is just fun!

      So happy your world tour of burgers is going well. Algeria and Afghanistan are a couple of the best – but then again, I have a lot of favorites. 🙂

  5. Superb blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any suggestions? Cheers!

    • linda says:

      I bought Professional Blogging for Dummies and it had a ton a great information. I self host so that I have ultimate flexibility and complete ownership of my content. I’m still pretty new to blogging, so I don’t have any secrets or inside tips. Just pick something and start, you’ll figure it out as you go along. Good luck!

  6. Algeria says:

    Your site and mission are fantastic! We love that you are covering so many countries in Africa in such a unique way!

    • linda says:

      Thank you, I’m glad you’re enjoying the African recipes – I have really enjoyed learning more about Africa and the varied cuisines. Stay tuned, more to come!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *