Before the yawn chain begins, give me a chance to defend this sorely misrepresented item. Once only seen as the sad little alternative for our herbivore friends, the veggie burger is now enjoying a renaissance. Gone are the days where I had to watch my poor mother force down mushy bean patties, or worse BLT’s without the B’s. Then comes the great Shroom Burger, proving that even die hard traditionalists can waiver at the register when introduced to a worthy contender. What finally changed? Maybe chefs and restauranteurs finally realized that the point of a veggie burger is to actually taste like a veggie burger. Out are the desperate and failed attempts of faking meat and in are the creations that glorify… well, vegetables. From Green Label Burger at the Dutch, to the Earth Burger at soon to be east coast Umami chain, the options for dining out are growing everyday. But there is one kind of veggie burger I have always been biased to, the Masala Burger. Packed with textured veggies, lacking any sort of bean paste, and pungent with spice, I would easily pick this over the rest. Sure Trader Joe’s make a mean version, but it is so easy to make it from scratch why waste your time in that absurdly long line. The following recipe is loosely based on my mom’s recipe for Kofta, the Indian version of a vegetarian meatball, which uses cauliflower as the base. Shredding the cauliflower and carrots is key to the texture of the patty, so I would use the attachment on your food processor over just pulsing it. I use egg as a binder but you can replace this with either 2 tablespoons of yogurt (for vegetarians) or 2 tablespoons of canola oil (for vegans), just be careful flipping the burgers in the skillet as they will be more delicate. Garnish with tomato, your favorite cheese, spinach leaves or just the cilantro chutney aioli. So dump those freezer burn laden Boca patties and stock up on these guys before your next barbecue…
Masala Burger with Cilantro Chutney Aioli
Patty and Burger:
4 cups shredded cauliflower (1 medium-sized head)
2 cups shredded carrots (4-5 medium-sized carrots)
1 cup onion small diced (1 medium-sized onion)
2 green chillies minced
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chili powder (additional 1 tsp if you like it spicy)
1.5 tbsp madras curry powder
3/4 cup chopped cilantro (half bunch)
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (1/2 cup chick pea flour for gluten free alternative)
1 egg (2 tbsp yogurt or 2 tbsp oil as alternatives)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil
8-10 toasted buns
In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the onions, green chillies, and ginger garlic paste in the 2 tbsp of oil.
Add cumin, coriander and chili powders and continue to saute until spices have been absorbed by the oil.
Mix in the shredded cauliflower and carrots into the mixture and allow to sweat for a few minutes before seasoning well with salt and pepper.
When cauliflower begins to look slightly transparent add the curry powder and saute until fully incorporated. Cook the mixture until fork tender but not mushy. Place in a large mixing bowl to cool.
Add the chopped cilantro, breadcrumbs, and egg and mix well. The mixture should not appear too wet, and you should be able to form rough balls.
Divide mixture into 8 to 10 balls based on the size of the buns your using and form in patties.
In a large skillet on medium-high heat pour enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan by 1/4 inch.
In batches, gently place the patties around the pan giving enough room to flip over. Sear the bottom of each patty until completely brown before flipping over and repeating on the other side. The patties should be crisp, hinging on the side of burnt, on the top and bottom. Sear sides as well for extra texture if desired. Remove from pan and blot off excess oil before placing on toasted buns.
Cilantro Chutney Aioli
1 bunch fresh cilantro
3 small green chilies
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 pinch asafetida
1/4cup canola oil
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp mayonnaise
In a food processor or blender, puree the ginger, garlic, lime juice and zest, cumin seeds, and asafetida.
Add the cilantro and blend on low while drizzling in the canola oil. Add water if needed to bring it to a consistency of a thin paste.
Season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for future use.
Take 4 tablespoons of the fresh chutney and mix with 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Spread over the top of all the toasted buns.