Burgers With Turmeric and Tahini

The spices add a little kick to the burgers while adding a powerful, healthy punch.

Number of servings : 8

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Type of meal : | Sandwiches | Sandwiches

Special diet : | Low calorie


2 lbs (1 kg) ground beef or lamb, or a combination
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 egg
½ cup (125 mL) whole wheat or regular bread crumbs
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cumin
2 tsp (10 mL) turmeric
2 tsp (10 mL) salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

Tahini sauce:
1/3 cup (75 mL) tahini paste (made from ground sesame seeds)
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (2 mL) ground cumin
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground turmeric
¼ tsp (1 mL) hot sauce, optional
3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice
1/3 cup (75 mL) water, or more, if necessary

2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
½ cucumber, halved, seeded and diced
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
4  6-in. (15-cm) pita breads, halved to yield “pockets” (or 8 smaller pitas)


  1. For burgers, combine ground meat, onion, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, cumin, turmeric and salt. Shape into 8 burgers about ½ -in. (1-cm) thick and 3-in. (8-cm) across.
  2. Brush oil over the bottom of a large skil­let or grill pan. Heat pan and cook burgers —about 5 minutes per side or until just cooked through. They can also be grilled.
  3. For the tahini sauce, place tahini paste in a bowl or in a food processor. Whisk or blend in garlic, salt, cumin, turmeric and hot sauce. Add lemon juice. Don’t worry if mixture thickens up. When you add the water, it will smooth out. Add enough water to form a smooth sauce that you can drizzle.
  4. For the salsa, combine tomatoes with cucumbers, olive oil, cilantro and salt. (If you make the salsa ahead, drain off any excess water before serving.)
  5. To serve, place a burger in each pita pocket. Spoon in about ¼ cup (50 mL) salsa. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp (25 mL) tahini sauce.

Health Hint: Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflamatory that can help in the fight against cancer.

Bonnie says: This Eastern Mediter­ranean dish has a slightly exotic taste —one that everyone’s sure to love.

Fran says: Making your own salsa is easy. Plus, this recipe contains about half the sodium found in commercially prepared varieties. The tahini adds high flavour, some folate, calcium and fibre—and only 60 calories.


Photo by Benoît Levac; Food Stylist: Marie-Éve Charron; Prop Stylist: Irène Garavelli.

Nutritional information: