In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, mint, dill, lemon juice, and salt. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté until fragrant and tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ground lamb and sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the meat, until evenly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin and chili powder, and then stir in the tomato paste and brown sugar. Add the chicken stock, stir well, and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the pitas or other flatbreads on a microwave-proof plate, cover them with a clean dishtowel, and microwave until warmed through, around 1 minute. Place each pita on a serving plate, spoon the lamb mixture on top, and top with chopped tomato, tzatziki, and chopped mint. Garnish each serving with a small whole mint sprig.
There used to be a Greek restaurant next to my office in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, that featured gyros, sandwiches of seasoned grilled lamb shaved from a giant revolving vertical spit. I thought they tasted pretty good, but could have been better. So I was inspired to try to upgrade the recipe while simplifying it for home kitchens. I think you’ll like the results on both counts. (The Greek restaurant, by the way, eventually closed).
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded if necessary, and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 shallot, diced
1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ cup The Essential Homemade Chicken Stock (page 26), or good-quality canned chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 individual Greek pita breads or other soft flatbreads
2 ripe but firm tomatoes, cored and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus 4 small whole mint sprigs