Like bees gathering necter and pollen, moving pollen from flower to flower and bringing the nectar home and creating different flavors of honey, people travel and move to different countries collecting flavors of foods. In this very multicultural world, we are infusing all the cuisines without even giving a thought to it.
A family member wanted a cooking lesson and I asked her what she wanted to learn how to make and, loving Greek food, she said “a gyro.” I had to think about that one. I love Greek food and especially gyros but it wasn’t something I’d even considered making before because it requires a specific piece of restaurant equipment. If you don’t know what one is, gyro meat is roasted on a tall vertical spit with an electric heat source cooking it from the side. As the outside of the meat becomes slightly crisp, it is sliced vertically and place in lightly grilled pita bread along with tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce.
I’ve gone to restaurants many times and fallen in love with a dish and gone home and copied it, but how would I do this one without the unique equipment. The original Greek dish was made from chicken, but over here it became a combination of beef and lamb. As I was thinking about how I might be able to duplicate this sandwich, a hamburger made with beef and lamb that I could flavor like a gyro came to mind. I put the recipe together and it worked. A Gyro Burger With Tzatziki Sauce was posted in May 2011.
For this post, the seasonings for the meat are the same but to make a lighter dish, the bread has been removed, rice added, and a raita salad has replaced the tzatzika sauce. I did this not realizing that raita was not a Greek yoghurt dish. But the word raita, meaning something sharp of pungent, comes from the Hindi language of India. So now you have the American In and Out burger pollinated with the Greek and Indian cuisines.
Open-Faced Gyro Lettuce Burger With Raita
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground lamb
- 1/3 cup grated onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon savory
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients and form into patties.
- 1 cup strained yoghurt or lebneh
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion*
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients together and chill for several hours.
* You can soak the onions for 10 minutes or pickle them for 15 minutes to temper the bite of the raw onion and possibly make them easier to digest if you have problems with raw onions.
- Romaine or iceberg lettuce
- tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- cooked brown rice (optional)
- toasted pine nuts (optional)
Form regular sized patties or mini sized and fry meat until done to taste. Mix raita and tomatoes. Place burger and raita on iceberg lettuce. Serve with brown rice sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
Easy Brown Rice
To cook rice, fill a saucepan with a tight fitting lid three quarters full with water and bring to a boil. Rinse the desired amount of rice with water using a sieve. Once the water is boiling, add the rice. Let the rice boil uncovered for 35 minutes, then remove from heat and drain all the water out. Put the lid on the saucepan and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove lid, sprinkle the rice with a half teaspoon of salt and fluff the rice with a fork.