The best burgers ever… and they aren’t even American!

The best burgers ever… and they aren’t even American!

I’ll admit, I haven’t had a ton of Afghan food as comparison, but my wonderful boyfriend is Afghan and introduced me to a delicious dish at a local Afghan restaurant that I think everyone should try, Chapli Kebab!  Think of your traditional American-style beef patty, but instead with a ridiculous amount of flavor IN the meat.

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Cook the patties on the stove in a cast iron pan for 4 – 5 minutes per side, or on a barbecue. You want the patties to be cooked all the way through… medium well to well done as a temperature.  They may look charred as the patties should be very thin, but don’t worry… they’ll be flavorful AND juicy!

I read through quite a few recipes online, and settled on a great one that I’ve made many times.  At the bottom of this post you’ll find a link with the step by step instructions… all of which is on an AMAZING website called “Afghan Culture Unveiled” where you can read about the creator of the page (Humaira Ghilzai), Afghan culture, recipes, and her blog. Click here to view more of Ghilzai’s recipes. A preview of the flavors are listed below… and there’s a lot!


  • 2 pounds ground beef (no less than 20% fat)
  • 1 ½ cups finely diced green onion (both white and green parts)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro (stems are fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
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Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and get ready to get those hands dirty!

As you can see, there’s A TON of flavor packed into the meat and no condiments are necessary, unlike traditional American burgers.  I do include a pinch of cinnamon, but I leave out the red pepper flakes.  That being said, on the side I do like to serve the beef patties with a yogurt sauce, Afghan bread (or pita bread), and Afghan “salad.”

For the yogurt sauce, I use Greek yogurt and add finely chopped cilantro, minced garlic, green onions, salt, pepper, lime, jalapenos, and your favorite hot sauce.  Add ingredients to taste but I typically just chop a little extra from the Chapli Kebab ingredients list and throw in a bowl with yogurt.  However, if you are in a rush, serving plain yogurt is fine as it helps extinguish some of the spice!

The Afghan “salad” I create is equal parts chopped tomato and cucumber, plus sliced and minced jalapeno, and dried mint.  Mix it all together and then warm before putting with the beef patties and bread.  The salad tastes great cold, but the first time I tried it at a restaurant, it was warmed.

While I can’t say that I necessarily make the salad nor the yogurt sauce in a traditional Afghan way, everyone who’s tried the dish I create absolutely loves it!

To view the full steps for Chapli Kebab on Ghilzai’s blog, click here.

Side-note: if you love lamb like we do, this recipe can be adjusted using lamb as well.  Using one pound of ground beef with one pound of ground lamb, and leaving everything else the same… the recipe was just as delicious but of course made my lamb-loving boyfriend very happy.   

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