Saturday, January 5, 2013

Recipe of the month: Vegetarian Burgers

This is my first actual post in the new year. I wanted this post to be about something that is close to my heart. This vegetarian burger has a small story attached to it so if you arrived at this post only to check out the recipe, then please feel free to ignore my ramblings and scroll away!

There wouldn't be many married women from South India who wouldn't have heard of the name Mallika Badrinath. She is a cook book author famous for her Indian vegetarian recipes. My mum has the entire range of her recipe books and on countless occasions, me and my siblings have served the role of guinea pig for my mum's cooking exploits that were adapted/inspired from her books. A long time ago, while flipping through one of her books, my mum found a recipe for potato kebabs which she tried out and it turned out to be a hit with our family. The recipe is a very simple one in which the potatoes which are boiled and mashed, mixed with fresh chopped herbs like mint and coriander, spiced with green chillies and flavored with a few Indian spice powders. Bread/breadcrumbs and rice flour are incorporated for texture and crispiness after which the potato mixture is shaped into kebabs and subsequently deep-fried in hot oil. I was familiar with this recipe long before I got married and it was the very first dish that I prepared as a new bride at my in-laws house so you can imagine why it has special significance for me. Over the years, I've made these potato kebabs many many times and they have become somewhat of a signature snack of mine. 

So one day I was sitting at home wondering what to make for dinner and I suddenly felt like tucking into a burger. It so happened that there were burger buns sitting around in the fridge. I began to wonder about what kind of patty I was going to make. My husband makes amazing Portobello Mushroom burgers but that being his specialty, I wanted to do something different. I wasn't really in the mood to start cutting a whole lot of veggies so I decided to translate my trusty potato kebab recipe into patties for my burger. It did occur to me that the overall result could be a major carb overload but who can turn down bread and potatoes right?! I stuck to the kebab recipe pretty much expect that I shaped the potato mixture into cutlets and instead of deep-frying, I shallow fried them in a little oil until golden brown. I assembled my burger with my favorite toppings, added a dash of fiery sauce and I was ready to tuck in! You could always add in lettuce or some other salad leaves of your choice for that extra color and crunch but I didn't have any so I skipped the greens (regretted it later as I was photographing my burger!).

Here is the recipe for my veggie burger. The best thing about burgers is that they are so versatile. You can play around with the patty ingredients, toppings and the sauce to suit your taste. Although the word "burger" is usually associated with meat-based patties, this vegetarian version is worth a try. It is a slightly Westernized take on the Indian Vada Pav but you might find it a pleasant change!

Preparation time: ~ 40 mins
Recipe level: Easy 
Serves 2-4 
Recipe source: Mallika Badrinath and a little bit of me!


For the patties:

1/4 kg potatoes (~ 4 medium size potatoes)
5 slices of white bread or 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
a large bunch each of fresh mint and coriander leaves, finely chopped
3-4 green chillies, finely minced
1/2 tsp amchur powder (dry mango powder) or a few drops of lime juice
1/4 tsp turmeric power
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander powder
3 tbsp rice flour
Salt to taste

Oil for shallow frying

To assemble the burger:

4 burger buns
A few tsp softened butter or mayonnaise (can infuse with garlic)
Slices of tomatoes
Slices of onions
Grated cheese or cheese slices, Optional
Tomato ketchup/Chilli sauce
Lettuce/Salad leaves

  1. Cook the potatoes until done. Peel the skin and keep aside to cool. It is important that the potatoes are completely free of moisture otherwise you can end up with soggy patties. 
  2. Now dip the bread slices in water for 2 seconds, squeeze out the excess water from the bread and mix into the potato mixture. Alternatively, you could use fresh breadcrumbs. 
  3. Add the salt, amchur powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder and rice flour and mix well. Add the finely chopped mint and coriander leaves, finely minced green chillies and mix well until everything is well incorporated.
  4. Shape the potato mixture into cutlets. Heat oil in a skillet and when hot, fry the burgers on both sides until golden brown. Keep the burgers aside.
  5. Slice the burger buns in half. Toast the burger buns either in a toaster oven or on a hot pan. Apply a little softened butter or mayonnaise to the under sides of the buns. Arrange the lettuce/salad leaves, tomato and onion slices, cheese and patty as desired. Drizzle with a little tomato ketchup or chilli sauce. 
  6. Serve with salad, crisps or onion rings (I vote for the latter two for obvious reasons!).

  • If you find the potato mixture too soggy, you could add in more breadcrumbs or a little more rice flour. Cooking chunks of potatoes in the microwave (skins on) intermittently with a light sprinkling of water each time until done is a great way to alleviate moisture.  
  • These burgers would be a great main course for kids so you may want to cut down on the chillies in the patty. 
  • If you have left-over potato mixture you can refrigerate it and make kebabs at a later stage. For the kebabs, shape the potato mixture into rolls/fingers and deep-fry in hot oil until golden brown. Serve with ketchup/sauce or chutney of your choice.


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  2. Rosh tried this couple times this month. It was super easy and quick to make. The patty consistency was perfect. The masala in the patty somehow did not cut it for us as a burger. It had a unique taste of its own but due to its simplicity dint measure up to our expectations of a Trader Joe's like masala burger.

  3. Well, Trader Joe's burgers contains a dozen other vegetables in it so it obviously will taste different. This one tastes more like a Westernized Vada Pav. The simplicity is its USP so it isn't supposed to be fancy.

  4. I made this yest.. Used 4 potatoes & it was whole lot of patties for 2 to eat ! haha.. I added chilli powder to the mixture to spice it. Yum! thanks

  5. Thanks Komala. I end up with leftover potato mixture too so I always make deep-fried kababs the next day :)


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