pounds ground lamb
Kosher salt and black pepper
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground coriander
teaspoon dried oregano
teaspoon ground cinnamon
cup finely chopped scallions, white and green parts
cup chopped cilantro
tablespoons chopped mint
teaspoon minced garlic (from 2 garlic cloves)
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
Pita or other flatbread, for serving (optional)
- Put lamb in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, some black pepper, the cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, scallions, cilantro, mint and garlic. Mix well with wet hands, kneading the mixture to distribute seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour so the seasoning penetrates. (Alternatively, season meat and refrigerate overnight.)
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, put tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne. Stir well to dissolve the tahini. Then stir in yogurt, and mix well. Taste and add salt, to taste.
- Heat olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high. When oil is wavy, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and well browned, edging toward burned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Lower heat if browning too quickly. Add a little more oil, if pan looks dry. Season lightly with salt. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Light a charcoal grill for a medium hot bed of coals. (Alternatively, use a medium-hot gas or electric grill, a cast-iron pan or griddle, or a broiler.)
- With wet hands, knead lamb mixture once more, then form into 4 (8-ounce) oval patties (or 6 5-ounce patties), about 1-inch thick. Set aside until the fire is ready. Place the grill about 1 inch from the coals.
- Cook patties about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, 130 degrees. After flipping, cook until red juices appear on the top of the patties. For medium, 140 degrees, cook longer, about 5 minutes per side. In either case, let them rest on a warm plate for 5 minutes before serving, to keep in juices. They will continue cooking a bit as they rest.
- Top each burger with fried onions. Serve with tahini-yogurt sauce and warm pita, if desired.