Bahrainian burger recipe

Baharat spiced burger with homemade Hummus and Tabouleh

courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Bahrain is another island country, but on the other side of the world from the Bahamas.  It’s located in the Persian Gulf near Qatar and across the Gulf of Bahrain from Saudi Arabia and is comprised of 33 islands.  Bahrain has been much in the news lately and unfortunately the world seems to be pretty silent on the situation there.  I’m not taking any sides on this blog, but it does seem like we are very interested in some fights and oddly silent on others…thank goodness we only have to worry about the food for our journey.

Bahrain is a small country and since it’s pretty centrally located, the cuisine is fairly typically Middle Eastern.  If you travel to Bahrain (and based on the photos I’ve seen, it looks like a beautiful place to vacation), you’ll have a tough time finding Bahrainian food served at restaurants.  Most of the restaurants in the country cater to the international community and offer all manner of international flavors.  According to the blogs and tourist sites I visited, the best way to get Bahrainian food is to be invited to some one’s house.  There are as many hummus and tabouleh recipes as there are recipe websites on the internet (actually there are more as many have multiple recipes).  Since I wasn’t able to find any particularly Bahrainian version, I just used flavors I love.  I also got the chance to experiment with Meyer lemons, about which I had heard so much, but never tasted – they are great.  They’re a subtle blend of lemon and orange flavors, not as tart as a lemon, not as sweet as an orange.  I have no idea if they get them in Bahrain, but they should!

With both the hummus and the tabouleh, taste as you go and adjust to your preference – since the recipes are simple, slight variations in the ingredients can change the flavor dramatically so think of these as guidelines rather than a strict recipe.  For the burger, I created a Baharat season mixture.  Baharat just means “spice” and there are again, innumerable recipes to be found.  Most Bahranians would use dried limes in the baharat.  Since I made a rule at the beginning that I wouldn’t force you to go to a specialty market for any ingredients, I found a way to get a comparable flavor from ingredients I found at my local supermarket.  If you want a more “authentic” experience, order some dried limes online and substitute 2 dried limes for the key limes and lime juice in the recipe; the result will be a powder rather than a paste, but it works the same.  I tried both ways and they were really close in flavor.

I also tried the toppings with a veggie burger – put a little Baharat on the veggie burger as it was grilling – delish, perfect for my vegetarian friends.

Overall this makes a really fresh and light burger, great for spring time.  Everyone cleaned his or her plate, my father said “I’d never order it, but it was ok”,  my husband loved it.  The big difference is that my dad doesn’t really like any of the ingredients (except maybe pita bread) and my husband does.  I think an “ok” rating is pretty good for making something he would never have eaten under other circumstances.  If you like Middle Eastern food, you’ll love this (I hope), if you don’t like Middle Eastern food, this burger might not be your favorite.  Let me know either way.

I served with pomegranate juice because I wasn’t in the mood for wine (crazy, I know).  Then I added some vodka to the pomegranate juice, and all was right with the world 🙂

Bahrain Burgers
1 pound ground lamb
1 ½ Tablespoons Baharat
4 sandwich size pita bread rounds or 2 large pita rounds
Tabouleh
Hummus

Combine Bharat and ground lamb and mix until spices are evenly distributed.  Form four patties and grill to desired temperature.

Slice open each pita round to form a pocket.

Spread 1-2 Tablespoons hummus inside each sandwich round of pita (if using large pita rounds cut them in half then use about ⅔ of each half for the burger bun).  Place the burger on top of the hummus and add 2-3 Tablespoons of Tabouleh on each.

 

Hummus
15 ounce can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) drained
½ cup tahini
¼ cup olive oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3-5 cloves of garlic (to taste)
Juice of 1½  Meyer lemons (regular lemons are fine too)

In a food processor, pulse the garbanzo beans, tahini and olive oil until a thick paste is formed.  Add the other ingredients, tasting as you go and pulse until well combined.  The final product should have a consistency like peanut butter.  Refrigerate covered until you’re ready to use (preferably at least 1 hour)

 

Tabouleh
½ cup whole bulgur wheat
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup boiling water
1½ cup fresh parsley chopped
½ cup diced tomatoes
juice of one Meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
⅛ cup olive oil
⅛ cup fresh mint, chopped
zest from ½ Meyer or regular lemon

Combine the bulgur, salt and water in a heat proof container and let sit for ½ hour (shorter if you like a crunchy texture to the wheat, longer if you like it softer).  Drain any excess water.  In a large bowl, combine bulgur and remaining ingredients tasting as you go and adjusting flavor to your own preference.  Cover and refrigerate for a least an hour before using.

Baharat
2 key limes (or 2 dried limes ground in spice grinder)
½ teaspoon ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground in a spice grinder)
1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
½ Tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Zest and juice both limes and combine with all other ingredients in a small bowl until you get a cohesive paste (or evenly mixed powder).

Copyright ©2011 Linda Monach

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12 Responses to Bahrainian burger recipe

  1. Ken Jones says:

    Nice pics Linda. Taking it up a notch.

  2. Cordelya says:

    Hubby and I had this for dinner tonight. My kitchen now smells incredible. The pita’s tendency to split and crumble made it a smidgen difficult to eat. I think next time I will cook the seasoned ground lamb loose (like taco meat) and use that and the hummus and tabouli as wrap filling.

    • linda says:

      Thanks Cordelya, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Serving the lamb loose is a great idea – pita does tend to tear easily, so this would make it a lot easier to eat. We’ll try that next time we make it.

  3. Rick T says:

    I was going to be pretty happy with this recipe no matter how the burger ended up tasting because I’d just never looked at how easy it was to make your own hummus before — I’d always bought it pre-made, and just never really stopped to think about it. It wasn’t a cuisine I was terribly comfortable with, so I’d just assumed it was black magic. But this is really no more difficult than making pesto, which I’d never buy in a jar, and I think my days of buying pre-made hummus are mostly over.

    Doing my own tabouleh was fun too, though I didn’t expect to like it that much. But I think you managed to make something here that was more than the sum of its part. The hummus pairs nicely with the lamb (which, folks, be careful not to overcook — the juiciness of the lamb really added to the dish) to give a very rich mouthfeel, and while I think the tabouleh would be a bit tart to eat on its own, the citrus acidity makes a wonderful balance to the hummus/lamb. Everything was just perfectly in balance. I only wish I’d been able to get some of the Meyer lemons vs. ordinary ones, but I’ll retry this meal if I ever see them locally.

    I got lucky with the drink, too — I served it with a local microbrew IPA I happened to have on hand to try (Three Heads, “The Kind,” but I don’t think it’s nationally distributed), thinking that I don’t typically love IPA’s, but it might not go badly here, and I ended up really pleased because it has some citrus notes that nicely echoed the tabouleh.

    This definitely goes onto the list to make again.

    • linda says:

      Hi Rick T – it is amazing how many things we buy in the store that we could so easily (and inexpensively) make ourselves. Hummus is really easy, and you can adjust and add other flavors as you like (no wonder they have so many flavors in the grocery store). True confession, I’ve never really liked tabouleh – i think it’s the mint, most recipes have the mint way to overpowering. I tried to get enough mint to satisfy the traditionalists without dominating the dish. I was surprised I liked this recipe as much as I did but I think you may be right about the citrus being the key, it kept all of the flavors nice and bright and balanced the lamb perfectly.

      The only problem with this adventure is that there’s no time for me to make favorites again – I’m enjoying reliving the burgers through your stories.

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  7. Oguzhan says:

    Hi Rick T it is amazing how many tnghis we buy in the store that we could so easily (and inexpensively) make ourselves. Hummus is really easy, and you can adjust and add other flavors as you like (no wonder they have so many flavors in the grocery store). True confession, I’ve never really liked tabouleh i think it’s the mint, most recipes have the mint way to overpowering. I tried to get enough mint to satisfy the traditionalists without dominating the dish. I was surprised I liked this recipe as much as I did but I think you may be right about the citrus being the key, it kept all of the flavors nice and bright and balanced the lamb perfectly.The only problem with this adventure is that there’s no time for me to make favorites again I’m enjoying reliving the burgers through your stories.

    • linda says:

      I know how you feel, I don’t get to make my favorites again either, as it is I’m so far behind it’s driving me crazy. Glad you liked this one, it’s perfect for the warmer weather that is finally starting around here. I hope you keep enjoying the new recipes.

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