Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Halloumi Cheese

Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Halloumi Cheese (0008) by Meeta K. Wolff  

Often, I am unsure if what I am doing is correct. What can I say? It’s my first time and each corner I turn, each crossroad I stand at makes me stop and think “What next?”, “Where do I go from here?” 

Being a mother is an adventure of a lifetime. And I know I only have one go at this so I better make sure that I do this thing called “raising a child” right.

Unfortunately, we were never handed out an instructions manual when our children were born. Wouldn’t it be great to have that manual given to you along with the birth certificate?

There are days when I wish I had that manual. I’d flick to the index look up where my kid is troubleshooting and find a quick fix for the problem. It does not work that way though and as parents we are often left scratching our heads and looking for the solution to the current tantrum is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The years have moved along, the kid turned from a starry-eyed toddler to a smutty-faced third-grader, and as a parent, I have learned a few tricks. I still do not have all the answers, and am never sure if the answers that I do have are all the right ones but I have learned to trust my instincts. Although it is still scary, at the same time, parenting is wonderfully exciting and rewarding.

One thing that I have learned along the path is “that everything is just a phase!” I keep that branded in my mind. Sometimes I wish I could tattoo it on the kid’s forehead so that I do not forget to stop for a breath and chant the phrase like a powerful mantra when my patience is really being pushed to the limit.

Ticking out at bedtime? It’s just a phase. Wearing swim goggles everywhere, not just the pool. A phase. Suddenly deciding that only green grapes are safe to eat when I have bought a crateful of red ones? (Breath) Another phase.

My instincts tell me to ride along this roller coaster of phases, after all he needs to develop, to discover and to learn to make his own decisions. I am doing my best to guide him rather that desperately fight these phases and I realize how immensely liberating it is when we progress through the phases together, like a team.

Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Halloumi Cheese (0017) by Meeta K. Wolff

Recently, a well known fast food chain with the golden arches enticed young boys with Lego figures from the Star Wars series The Clone Wars. The hottest phase since the Pokémon phase. While the boys of the third grade collected these figures from the fast food place, Soeren would come home and tell me about the newest figures his friends showed him. While Soeren counted the figures, I was counting the numbers of kid’s meals one would have to eat before all the figures were collected. He never asked me to take him there directly because he was aware there was no way that was happening, at least not for all seven of the figures.

My conscience however, was getting the best of me and I was beginning to crumble. I hate peer pressure! One morning I drove past the place, the big golden “M” shone down on me and as if enlightened by the higher force, I was struck by an exceptional idea and decided to surprise Soeren.

That evening we had a Mac Mum’s Meal, homemade lamb burgers, with grilled halloumi cheese and oven baked fries and apple juice, served in brown bags with a red heart drawn in crayon and the arches of the M adorning the center of the heart. M for Mum of course. This mum had a very satisfied grin on her face when the kid came running into the kitchen flustered and excited holding up seven brand new Lego Star Wars figures. The force was with me!

Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Halloumi Cheese (0005) by Meeta K. Wolff

The lamb burgers are wonderfully succulent spiced with flavors of coriander, cumin and a sprinkling of cinnamon, while the halloumi cheese adds an exceptional salty note. Topping it all off are sweet caramelized onions.   

Recipe: Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Halloumi Cheese

Printable version of recipe here

Lamb Burgers_0005-1-75px

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1.5 hours


  • 1 kg minced lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 burger buns, to serve
  • 200 g halloumi cheese, sliced
  • 3 large red onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Place the minced lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, onion, crushed coriander, cinnamon and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper and mix all the ingredients using your hand until combined.

  2. Divide into 8 portions and shape the mixture into burgers. If you want to check the flavor, fry a small burger in a drop of oil before shaping the rest and, if necessary, add extra flavorings or seasoning.

  3. Place the burgers on a tray and cover with cling-film. Allow them to relax for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

  4. You can either heat up a skillet and fry the burgers on each side in a little olive oil for 5-8 minutes or heat up the barbecue and cook them for 5-8 minutes over medium-hot coals. To prevent the burgers from sticking, brush with a little oil before barbecuing them.

  5. In the same way fry the halloumi cheese on both sides until slightly brown.

  6. For the caramelized onions, heat oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and a good pinch of salt and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

  7. When onions are softened and colored golden, add sugar and balsamic - this starts the caramelization process. Continue to cook onions over low heat for a further 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sticky and caramelized.

  8. To assemble the burgers place lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber slices on one side of the bun. Place the lamb burger on the salad, a few caramelized onions and finally top with the cheese. Cover with the other half of the bun.

Note: Use your favorite sauces or relishes to add additional flavor to the burgers.


Spiced Lamb Burgers with Caramelized Halloumi Cheese (0011) by Meeta K. Wolff 

Everyday, parenting teaches me new lessons and that, I know is not a phase. “Once a parent, always a parent” was what my mum often said – now I know what she meant. The tricks I learn along the way are sometimes frustrating, often exhausting but all of them are rewarding, especially when I see the results. Looking at Soeren I think I might be doing a few things right.

Like these burgers! They are so downright right and satisfying that even the kid agreed Mac Mommy’s rocks. The fusion of flavors here is exceptional, with the warming aromas of coriander, cumin and cinnamon, paired with the sweetness from the soft and rich caramelized onions and the slight saltiness of the grilled halloumi. A burger that everyone will enjoy digging into!

The weather has been incredible here lately. Although the mornings are still cold, the warmth of the sun warms us during the sun. The first signs of Spring are visible as trees begin to bud and the flowers are sprouting in my garden. I wish you a warm and happy week ahead and hope the weekend brings you lots of fun, food, friends and family your way. 

More great Mac Mommy Meal ideas from WFLH:

Vegetable Paneer Frankies with Mango Chutney Chicken Club Sandwiches Pain Crevettes


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2011 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. Oh Meeta, I so agree on this! Parenting... would love a handbook! Your solution for the M-disaster is just great & yummy!
    Wishing you a lovely sunny day too!
    Bisous from Versailles,

  2. I think it was a MacBrilliant idea! Good for you winning this one battle for mom's everywhere! And how often have the kids only wanted the toy prize and not even eaten the food? Love the lamb burgers with all of those magic flavors you blended in. Another one for my must-make list! Gorgeous! And you know how I feel about the battles of motherhood, so I won't go into that here ;-)

  3. That burger is so mouthwatering! Those are ingredients that speak to me. yummy!



  4. What a wonderful and heartwarming story Meeta.

    Yes, unfortunately they don't come with an instruction manual, but it sounds like you're doing just fine without one!

    The burger looks great too.

  5. Oh my, thats the juiciest piece of meat I have ever seen...mmmm.....

    I personally think each new phase that a boy passes through as he grows up brings up problems worse than the previous ones. I am already dreading the days when my 3 year old becomes a pimply teenager, not all reassured by the appearance of the present day teenage boys. Believe me, Ben 10, Pokeman and Lego figures from the Star Wars are positively sweet!!!

    Indu@ http://indugetscooking.blogspot.com

  6. Oh yes, I would have loved to receive a copy of that "how to" manual when my kids were born. However, you are right - so many things are just a phase.

    This burger looks so succulent and tempting - far better than anything from the golden arches.

  7. Sounds like you have the best possible attitude about parenting. The lamb burgers look spectacular, especially with halloumi.

  8. I love this post!!! What a brilliant mom's idea you had. My kids also know that there is no way I will take them to this place or any other fast food restaurant. They love the lamburgers I make.
    I know they would like yours, too.

  9. You used to be able to just buy the toy at the Golden Arches. My suggestion is to do just that and make these burgers at home!!!

  10. I just sent this link to E because he loves a good lamb burger and this looks phenomenal!

  11. A wonderful and heartwarmign post. I loved the idea of packing the burgers in a paper bag with an M. Might have to steal the idea!

  12. your posts give me a heads up on what"s entailed for me in the future. I struggle with my to toddler on a daily basis and food is central to that.

    Beautiful post. Gorgeous burger!PHotograph toh mashallah hai hi.

  13. I loved this, smiling through most of it with my own memories of raising my boys, but it also tugged at my heart. They grow up before you know it. :( Those golden arches are quite a draw, aren't they? Your lamb burgers look delicious -- definitely something we'd enjoy.

  14. What a sweet story! And these look delicious, too. :o)

  15. Mactastic! I hope he enjoyed it! I must try Ted out on home made burgers, I bet he'd love them.

  16. Brilliant call on the figurines!! I love it. :) Recipe looks fab too.

  17. Their "phase" is my mantra which I keep saying to myself.."it is temporary.. it will pass ..etc etc" :-) So well said!

    If you had a manual, you might not have enjoyed all the surprises Meeta!! They are so good!

    I could have some of them succulent M burgers - M for Meeta's :-D

  18. I often say to my girls "I've never been a parent of teenagers before". Although you have to reassure them that you are in charge and have confidence...they also need to understand that it's a journey for you all. When it works it's a brilliant feeling and that's what this post conveys. Lamb burgers look pretty good too (and well done for holding out against the arches).

  19. That is so sweet to make Soeren his own healthy Mac menu! These burgers sure beat the famous M ones any day!!

  20. this reminds me of the burgers I had while holidaying in Cape Town! Esp the caramelized onions bit!

    Food in Cape Town was fantastic! I even tried the ostrich burgers! :D Also delicious!

    I know I'm too lazy to take the trouble of making the mince. But i will make the onions and buy some ready-made lamb mince (we get some pretty good ones here) and try it out!

  21. Haloumi is the magic word for me! These sounds superb!

  22. Thanks so much for all your comments and feedback to the post. I am enjoying reading your own stories and experiences, thanks for sharing them. These burgers are real winners and beat the fast food burgers any day. The best thing is you can vary the spices to your family's liking. Enjoy!

  23. My 8 year old is currently going through a deconstructionist phase with his food - every item on the table is eaten sequentially. Apparently we wouldn't want to tarnish one dish with another!

    I also refuse to take my kids to the big M. I love the way you got around it and still managed to get the figurines. I'll add that idea to my arsenal of strategies! We love lamb burgers as well. The kids seem to prefer them to beef, and actually I do too! I put loads of chopped fresh mint in mine, and serve with minty Greek yogurt. Halloumi would be great with them so will try that next time. x Michele

  24. Brilliant idea! I think that has to be the best solution to that kind of peer pressure, because it's not like he wants to go for the food anyways so now he gets the toys he wants and a great home cooked meal - very smart!

  25. As my daughter gets older, some phases I am glad to be rid of and other phases I miss dearly. I like your motto :)

    Your photos are stunning! I've never had a lamb burger but that is about to change! I'm drooling over here! Thanks for sharing! :)

  26. Yay for Mac-Mums! And I bet your hamburger tastes 10 million times better than the plastic-y cardboard McOrginals. :-)

  27. Haha, yah...a manual for certain situations...would be awesome. :)

    The lamb burger looks really great. I don't know if I've ever had lamb, but I'd love to try it sometime!

  28. I'm learning about phases too, Meeta. Not with children, because I don't have any, but in life, for me. I'm so glad there are phases, even though they're scary and baffling sometimes. Like now. Love your burgers. Good food is such comfort.

  29. I hope you don't mind but I will be borrowing this idea in the future as I am sure I will need it! McMum's rocks! :) I love lamb (and halloumi cheese!) so I am sure this was really stellar!

  30. WOW, that looks so yummy!

    Camila F.

  31. Meeta,
    I love your recipes, photographs and writing a lot. Have been following your blog for a while. Just wanted to acknowledge how much I enjoy coming here. It cheers me up!!Keep up the great work.

  32. Halloumi is new to me. You grill it? Hmmm... I will have to check that out. I also have to echo what RamblingTart said: I don't have kids yet, but God's been teaching me about seasons in life. I'm not going through a fun one now, but I'm confident I will come out the other end stronger. Thankfully, like seasons, phases come to an end.

  33. Oh wow! That looks to die for! I have got to save this recipe! Yum :)

  34. That is so great! I wish my mom had made me lamb burgers instead of getting me the double cheeseburger at Mickey D's... it was the kids' meals with the miniature beanie babies I HAD to have when I was kid.

    My roommate and I recently moved off campus and have been learning how all kinds of new recipes now that we have our own kitchen. This one is next on the list!

  35. I don't have kids, but this is such a great idea! It makes me sad that fast food places work so hard to get little kids addicted to their unhealthy food. When I have kids, I'm definitely going to try something like this! (And hopefully keep them from watching commercials on TV, hooray for DVR!)

  36. One tip my mom learned when I was a kid. You can walk up to the fast food places and just buy the figurines. Thanks for the recipe my wife and I enjoyed it.

  37. McSmart McMomma! Yes.... it is a phase and this too shall pass. Mine's pack is all about wearing ridiculous stiletto heals. I try not to laugh out loud as the totter around the house. I only wish those shoes came in a happy meal :)

    I love the idea of adding the halloumi cheese, it is a favor favorite with me yet very difficult to find where I live.

  38. What a great story. I'm glad you were able to bypass the unhealthy arches for a home cooked meaningful experience at home. You sound like a wonderful mother!

  39. wow...I've just discovered your site, and...I'm in love!!!! everything looks delicious!!!!

  40. How I wish everything has a manual sometimes =) This looks great!

  41. I like the sound of fried halloumi in a burger!

  42. That looks delicious. Mine love home made burgers too, but I wont show them yours. Looks a LOT better than what I make, my lovely!

  43. Oh I would eat at your MacMum's any day over the golden arches! This looks fantastic. What a way for you to satisfy both of your wishes.

  44. Brilliant! And yes, Clone Wars is all the rage in South Africa too... my nephews are obsessed! My mom had to repeat the "this is a phase" mantra A LOT when I took to wearing black lipstick and nail polish for a year at university - I think she positively wore her mantra out!! Can't imagine why anybody would choose Mickey D's if they could have these delectable treats...

  45. One tip I learned since I was a child - you can walk up to the fast food places and just buy the figurines. Thanks for the recipe my husband and I enjoyed it.

  46. That looks great, although i've never had a lamb burger before. I recently made a blue cheese, bacon, and avocado burger on a hawaiian sweet roll. It was very tasty. Thanks for the recipe ;)


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