I love a good Veggie Burger

I love a substantial, moist, and bursting-with-flavour vegetable/bean patty, topped with a zingy sauce or two, sandwiched in a soft wholegrain burger bun, and nestled on fresh, crispy salad greens, tomatoes and red onions. Veggie burgers have really grown in popularity and it’s wonderful to see how creative home and professional cooks have become in their efforts to craft a tasty veggie burger. The best one I’ve had was at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen in London, at the Belsize Park branch (in case you were wondering); it was a Goat’s Cheese and Aubergine stack accented with the sharpness of rocket leaves and the sweetness of a fruity relish that pleased me tremendously. It’s not something that I can replicate for the cookbook or the blog because it wouldn’t qualify as healthy, Indian, or even ‘Indian with a twist’ and I wouldn’t really want to mess around with the flavours – they work wonderfully as they are. I look forward to enjoying it again when I return to London.

Veggie burgers range from patties made entirely from some form of soy protein (in most cases a poor imitation of their beef/lamb counterparts) to ones made mostly from vegetables/beans/lentils, nuts, brown rice, herbs and spices – and various combinations in between. The ones masquerading as meat burgers are my least favourite, closely followed by the portabella mushroom burgers which usually consist of a giant and rather flavourless mushroom smothered in melted cheese and a mayonnaise based relish – really lacking in flavour, texture and imagination and, thankfully, not as widespread on restaurant menus anymore. I don’t mind some soy protein in my burgers as long as there are lots of other vegetables and legumes – it is a veggie burger after all! In India, the most popular form of veggie burger consists of a potato cutlet (alu tikki) with a couple of chutneys and ketchup in a white bread roll or burger bun. My favourite, for cooking at home, are bean burgers, chock full of veggies, herbs, spices, lemon, garlic and other flavourings. A challenge with veggie burgers is binding them properly so that they don’t fall apart while you’re cooking them. To this end, you can use eggs, flour, or breadcrumbs. Another challenge is keeping them moist. I have found that a generous amount of finely chopped vegetables, especially onions, carrots and mushrooms, help to prevent veggie burgers from drying out.

This veggie burger recipe is inspired by falafels and daal bhajias. Falafels are Middle-Eastern deep-fried chickpea patties/balls and daal bhajias are an Indian version of the same, made with a combination of lentils. I love falafels and worked on a recipe for months before I came up with a really good one – I won’t be sharing it here because there are some things I just have to keep secret. I have never attempted to make daal bhajias but I have a good idea of what goes in them. I’ve blended flavours from both recipes and dispensed with the deep-frying in favour of grilling to come up with a very tasty chickpea patty. Instead of chickpeas, you can use butter beans or other white beans, black beans and even kidney beans. A food processor will be very handy for this recipe, but you should still be able to manage with a good potato masher. This was a very delicious and healthy veggie burger!

The Chickpea Burger with the Chilli Tomato Chutney and Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw

Chickpea Burgers

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 20-25 minutes + 15 minutes chilling time

Cooking Time:  On the hob: 8-10 minutes; Oven grilled: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients

2 cans organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed – drained weight 500g

1 small onion (75g), quartered

1 small carrot (75g), scrubbed/peeled and grated

3-4 cloves garlic

1½ tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander

1½ tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

4 teaspoons raisins (30g)

Juice of a lemon

50g chickpea/gram flour or whole wheat flour plus extra for shaping the patties and dusting

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds, roasted and crushed

1½ teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted and crushed

½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

2½ tablespoons sunflower/olive oil

Method

Place the chick peas in the food processor and pulse a few times to get the blade moving before letting it work for a few minutes so that the chick peas are very finely chopped but not quite a paste – you should be able to shape it into a patty. You may have to stop the machine to scrape the mixture down from the sides of the bowl a few times. If you have a slightly dull blade, you will find this tough going and may have to add a splash or two of oil to help the process – that’s fine. If you don’t have a food processor, crush the chickpeas with a good potato masher.

When the chick peas have been suitably chopped, scrape them into a large bowl. Put the food processor bowl back on the machine and add the onions, garlic cloves, coriander, parsley, raisins, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and chilli flakes. Pulse this mixture a few times so that it is well blended and finely chopped, but again, not pureed. Add this mixture to the chickpeas.

Add the grated carrot, lemon juice and salt/pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking before sifting the flour in. Mix it all together well with a spoon/your hands and then chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes – it will be easier to shape the patties this way.

If you are going to oven grill them, preheat the grill to medium, line a baking tray with baking parchment/greaseproof paper and brush well with some of the oil. You should be able to form 6 patties, about 4-5cm in width and 1 cm high. If the mixture is still a little sticky, pat your hands with some flour while shaping them.

In order to oven grill them, place them on the baking tray and under the grill, brushing the tops of the patties with oil. Turn them over after 8 minutes and let them cook for another 8 minutes and become light brown and crispy on the outside. Remember, the chickpeas are already cooked so these patties don’t need much time. If you want extra browning, turn the grill to high towards the end of the cooking time and give them another 5 minutes.

If you prefer to do them on the hob, heat a frying pan on medium heat and pour in a teaspoon or two of oil at time. Slowly cook the patties in batches, turning over from time to time until they are browned and crispy on the outside. This should take about 10 minutes.

I tried both methods and actually preferred cooking them on the hob in a pan. They took less time and browned very nicely indeed. The patties held together very well using both methods and stayed soft on the inside.

When I grilled the patties, there were slight cracks but they still held together very well, were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside

Enjoy them in burgers buns or on their own with a salad if you are avoiding bread for any reason. I would recommend Tahini dressing/Tzatziki/Raita (a google search will bring up lots of quick and easy recipes for these) and a chilli tomato sauce to go with these delicious patties.

Per serving(patty only): Calories 251, Protein 9g, Carbohydrate 37g, Sugars 9g, Fat 9g, Saturates 1g, Fibre 9g. A good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Folate and Manganese.

Edit 06/12/2011: On making these again, I reduced the amount of flour, increased the amount of raisins and slightly changed the method, chilling the mixture before shaping them because this was much easier.

I made some Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw and a Fresh Chilli Tomato Chutney for these burgers – so easy and so good! Here are the recipes:

Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw, Serves 6

Ingredients

Half of a red cabbage (230g), grated

1 small apple (150g), grated

4 tablespoons chopped chives

120g low-fat Greek Yogurt or coconut yogurt for vegans

1-2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a small blender/processor, blend the yogurt, garlic, vinegar and oil. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. It should be quite tart/sour.

Transfer this yogurt dressing to a bowl and add the grated cabbage, grated apple and chopped chives. (I didn’t have any celery to hand but would have added some if I did). Taste and adjust seasoning. Store in the refrigerator.

Per serving: Calories 61, Protein 2g, Carbohydrate 8g, Sugars 6g, Fat 3g, Saturates 1g, Fibre 1g. A good source of Vitamin A and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin K.

Fresh Chilli Tomato Chutney, Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 medium tomatoes (250g), peeled*

1-2 small red chillies, seeds removed if your prefer less heat (I keep them in)

A few sprigs of coriander

2 cloves garlic

Juice of 1 lime

¾ teaspoon soft brown sugar or coconut sugar

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

*Cut a cross in the skin at the base of the tomatoes, and pour boiling water over them until they are submerged. Leave them for at least 5 minutes. Drain the water and then peel the skin off from the base of the tomato, which should come off easily.

Method

Blend all the ingredients together well (more smooth, less chunky)for the most delicious fresh tomato chutney! I always have some in the fridge and eat it with almost everything!

Per serving (for 6): Calories 15, Protein 1g, Carbohydrate 4g, Sugars 2g, Fat 0g, Saturates 0g, Fibre 1g. A good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese.

This is off to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, June 21st-25th, 2012

Related Recipes:

http://www.activevegetarian.com/mmm-chickpea-burger

http://ohsheglows.com/2011/07/13/our-perfect-veggie-burger/

http://radiancerecipes.com/vegetarian-bean-burgers/

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6 Responses to I love a good Veggie Burger

  1. Ronnie B. says:

    Oh my god !!! What a fantastic recipe and article. My mouth started flooding within the first 3 lines !!!

    This seems like a fantastic recipe Cheeks and chick peas are so healthy and deliciously tasty at the same time. I would also prefer frying them on a hob, I think they would stay a little more juicy. Ovens tend to dry out foods too quick.

    The pics are fab as well. Love reading this blog.

    Lots of love

    Ron xxx

    • justjhoom says:

      Ronnie – I love you for all your support, encouragement and feedback! I would love to try and make these on a barbecue/open grill – but I think it would be a good idea to seal them quickly in a pan first and then put them on a barbecue. This will be going in the cookbook too.

  2. Pingback: Desi Spinach Pancakes | Cook2Jhoom

  3. Your condiments are what reeled me in! I love a good burger and I often pile on some sauerkraut for crispy tang. Raw cabbage and apple slaw not only sound tasty but are quite colorful and appealing. Thanks for posting on Wellness Weekend.

  4. Kiran says:

    I have always wanted to try making chickpea burgers, I will try this out soon. I make the cabbage & apple slaw, but have never used red cabbage, will try it as I love food that is good for you and colourful 😉 thanks for linking with me.

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