By Mayo Clinic Staff

Dietitian's tip:

This inventive dish combines lean ground beef, spices and garlic with bulgur for a zesty kebab with a tangy sauce. For an appetizer, shape the mix into meatballs, saute lightly and serve with cocktail picks.

Number of servings

Serves 8


  1. 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 2 cups fine-grind bulgur
  4. 1 1/2 pounds very lean ground (minced) beef
  5. 1/4 cup very finely chopped pine nuts
  6. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 2 teaspoons salt
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  11. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  12. 16 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes, or metal skewers
  13. For the sauce

  14. 2 cups fat-free plain yogurt
  15. 1/4 cup tahini
  16. 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  17. 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  18. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)


Place the onions in a blender or food processor and process to puree. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup measuring pitcher, pressing firmly with a rubber spatula or the back of a wooden spoon to extract all the juice. Discard the solids. Add the lemon juice and enough water to measure 1 1/2 cups liquid. In a large bowl, combine the onion juice mixture and the bulgur and soak for 10 minutes. Add the beef, pine nuts, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and pepper to the bulgur and stir to mix well.

Using a little less than 1/3 cup for each kebab, form the beef mixture into 16 sausage links, each about 4 inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter. Thread onto the skewers. If the mixture is too crumbly, add water 1 tablespoon at a time, just until it holds together. Cover the prepared skewers and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler (grill). Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon zest, mustard and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate.

Place the kebabs on the grill rack or broiler pan. Grill or broil the kebabs, turning as needed, until evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Drizzle with the yogurt sauce and garnish with the cilantro.

Nutritional analysis per serving

Serving size :2 kebabs

  • Total fat 13 g
  • Calories 301
  • Protein 24 g
  • Cholesterol 32 mg
  • Total carbohydrate 22 g
  • Dietary fiber 5 g
  • Monounsaturated fat 5 g
  • Saturated fat 4 g
  • Sodium 458 mg

This recipe is one of 150 recipes collected in "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook," published by Mayo Clinic Health Information and Oxmoor House, and winner of the 2005 James Beard award.

April 15, 2011