Cooking with Lee Lee – Cumin Spiced Lamb Burgers with Uyghur Style Salsa

This blog will start with a bit of geography that I felt was necessary in order for me to write this recipe. I’ve taken inspiration from a Uyghur restaurant that I visited a few months ago.

Originating from Western China, specifically in the sparse Region of Xinjiang, Uyghur food has strong Turkic influences. Geographically it’s situated between Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The region is often referred to as Chinese Turkestan and the cuisine is predominately halal, featuring mutton, goat, camel, fresh vegetables and dairy.

Uyghur food is one that peaks my interests because it’s not as well-known as other Chinese cuisines but the flavors are just as intense and just as delicious. Their choice of food sources being so far inland is rather limited and their range of signature dishes is not as impressive in size as other regions in China, but they do what they can with what they have and boy do they impress with flavors.

This is my recipe spin on a classic Uyghur dish, traditionally lamb meat served on skewers and char-grilled with a light salad, I’ve decided to take the main components and serve it as a burger instead.

Cumin Spiced Lamb Burgers with Uyghur Salad

Serves 4


500g Lamb mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp Cumin seeds

2 tbsp Coriander seeds

2 tbsp Fennel Seeds

1 egg

4 slices of Gruyere Cheese

1 Lebanese cucumber, half grated and the other half seeded and diced into small cubes

200mL Greek Yoghurt

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Juice of half a lemon

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced into small cubes

1 cup of fresh dill, roughly chopped

4 wholemeal burger buns, toasted


  1. Combine all the spices and dry toast them in a fry pan until fragrant. This should only take a minute or two. Give the fry pan a shake every now and then and this will keep the spices from burning easily. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and pound until the seeds are no longer whole. Of course you can skip the pounding and just buy ground seeds.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add lamb mince, salt and pepper, toasted spices, brown onion and the egg. Combine well with your hands, this way you’ll incorporate all the flavors better. Get your hands dirty , you wont regret it. =) Then shape the mince mixture into round patties. The mince mixture should make at least 5 patties. I always do a test patty just in case I need to add more spices or more seasoning. Cover the patties and set them aside in the fridge for extra marinating time.
  3. For the tzatziki, add the grated cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the Greek yoghurt and mix well. Set aside in the fridge until serving time.
  4. For the Uyghur salsa, simply toss together the diced cucumbers, tomato and dill. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Back to the burger patties, heat a large fry pan until hot, add a drizzle of olive oil followed by the meat. Cook on the one side for 3-4 minutes. Using a spatula, flatten the patties as they tend to shrink with heat. Flip the burgers over to the other side and add a slice of cheese on each patty. Cook for 2 minutes or until cheese has completely melted.
  6. To serve, build from the bottom of the bun. Start with a spread of tzatziki, lettuce, Uyghur salsa, burger patty with cheese and an extra dollop of tzatziki before placing the top of the bun on the burger.

This one is sure to impress, a quick and easy recipe for your next Spring BBQ or get together. Maximum flavor and minimum work, this recipe is my go-to for impromptu lunches that calls for foolproof perfection.

Do you have a go-to recipe that always impresses?

Hope you’ve enjoyed Cooking With Lee Lee. If you have any questions about the recipe or if you’ve tried my recipe and want to share your thoughts, please leave me a comment.

Worth every single calorie!

Love Lee Lee =)