Lamb Hamburgers (kfetahs)

I love making this recipe with a side of sautéed swiss chard. So, like any pregnant wife in the middle of a Canadian winter would do, I sent my husband to the grocery store.

“I need some swiss chard” I said.

“No problem” was his reply.

Then he came home empty handed and said, with a straight face:

“Sorry, honey, they were all out of cheese.”

OMG. Have patience girl. Breathe.

I love my husband, I love my husband, I love my husband….practise yoga pose.

Luckily for me the meat experience was better and more productive. I called Boucherie Shalom to order freshly ground lamb shoulder. Apparently, that isn’t such an easy order. But what great service! Within 2 hours, I got my order delivered to my door and it’s perfect. So if you plan on making this succulent recipe, be sure to order from Boucherie Shalom and tell them Nathalie sent you!

Boucherie Shalom:

4693 Van Horne, Montréal, QC H3W 1H8, Canada

The secret to this recipe is to allow the meat to rest when all the spices have been mixed in. Lamb is the type of meat that needs the flavours to develop. So if you can make the patties a day before and leave them in the fridge overnight, that would be optimal and less work the next day! Don’t you just love recipes you can prepare in advance?!

The second tip about this recipe is the harissa. I am known as a food snob and harissa is on the top of my snob list. If you can, make it yourself. It’s so ridiculously easy and it definitely does not compare to anything you can buy in the store. I have tried many, many different harissa recipes and I believe chef Einat Admony makes the best and most authentic one. I have included it below.

Finally, this recipe will serve approximately 10-15 people (about 30 3.5 ounce patties). You can always easily adjust the recipe should you need to feed more.


6.5 pounds ground lamb shoulder (make sure to ask for shoulder but be prepared that you might have to order more because it’s hard to do and the butcher might not be willing to do it should you order less. Lamb shoulder makes all the difference in this recipe.)

1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/3 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp. or more depending on your like for spiciness, harissa (see recipe below)

3 tbsp. tomato paste

3 tbsp. spice mixture (see recipe below)

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. ice water


Spice mixture:

2 tsp. ground tumeric

1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tbsp. anise seed

1 tbsp. cumin seeds, toasted

2 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tbsp. coriander seeds, toasted

2 tsp. ground cardamon

1/2 tsp. cayenne, optional


Einat Admony’s Harissa:

10 garlic cloves

1 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled, cored, and seeded

1 1/4 c. canola oil, divided

1/4 c. tomato paste

1/2 c. ground cumin

1/3 c. cayenne

1/3 c. sweet Hungarian paprika

1/4 c. ground caraway

2 tbsp. kosher salt




Start by making Einat Admony’s harissa from her book “Balaboosta”. It’s so easy:

Combine the garlic, bell pepper, 1 c. oil and the tomato paste in a food processor. Pulse until almost pureed.

Add the cumin, cayenne, paprika, caraway and salt. Slowly drizzle the remaining 1/4 c. oil while the machine is running. Keep processing until the harissa is completely pureed, and all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Store harissa in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 months.

How easy was that?!



Next make the spice mixture: put all spices into a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and grind. You will make more than you will need. Save the rest in a glass jar and use it to spice up soup, chicken or ground beef.

This is how you toast your seeds on low heat until fragrant:



Now grind:




Place ground lamb into a large bowl. Add the rest of the hamburger ingredients.


You may need to add the water if your meat wasn’t freshly ground. Freshly ground meat will not require much water. The way to tell is if the meat already feels moist, don’t add all the water. Just about 1 tbsp. should suffice.

Form the patties and place on a baking tray covered in parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. If you are making extra, you can freeze the patties on the tray and once frozen, place in a Ziplock freezer bag.


You can either grill or pan sear the hamburgers or you can place them directly in the oven on broil, turning them once the top side is nice and golden brown.



Serve with sautéed swiss chard (just don’t send my husband to get it), spiced rice, couscous or sautéed vegetables.




This recipe does not have that strong taste of lamb. It’s mild and a crowd pleaser. Make sure to buy good quality meat from a reputable butcher. If the meat smells strong, it isn’t fresh. When I opened the ground lamb package, there was no odour at all, as it should be. Thank you Boucherie Shalom!


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