Updated: Feb 23, 2020
This is where a humble American food meets the exotic essences of Indian spices. Made with tofu and lentils, served with a creamy cilantro sauce, this burger is a real epicurean.
Vegan, can be made gluten free.
Once upon a time, in my omnivorous days, I went to an Indian restaurant and sampled this dish called “Kakori kebab”. The complexity of the flavors, the divine aroma of all the spices made me feel like the art of the ‘Tajmahal’ itself was being sculpted on my tongue!
Fast forward to my vegan kitchen and fusion- experiment days; I was looking for an innovative flavor profile to work with. Then, like a whiff of a spice bazaar the taste of kakori kebab came back to my mind! Right at that moment, I knew I had to create a burger that will taste like that luxurious kebab. And my “kebab–burger” was born! If you wanna impress someone, serve them this. I promise, you’ll be famous for your cooking overnight!
I chose tofu and green lentils as the base of this burger because they are kind of like a blank canvas, and would reflect the zest of the beautiful spices well. Talking about spices, yeah, you’re gonna need a whole spectrum of those! This is a fancy burger after all! But don’t worry. You can buy them at any Indian grocery or on amazon.
Usually, kebabs are served with some kind of a yogurt sauce or ‘raita’. To represent that, I made a creamy sauce with coconut yogurt and cilantro that goes wonderfully well with this burger.
Ready to experience the mystique flavors of the east? Let’s get rolling!
About the dish :
Course – Entrée
Yields – 6 burgers
Difficulty level – Medium high
Recipe type – Vegan. Can be made gluten free if you serve with gluten free bun.
Does it keep – Keeps in the fridge, in airtight container, for 3 days.
What you need :
For the patties :
1 block of firm tofu (14 oz), drained and pressed
1.5 cups cooked green lentils (you can use one 15 oz can or cook your own)
2 pods of green cardamom
1 pod of black cardamom
1 chili of Arbol (optional)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ cup white poppy seeds (can be substituted by black poppy seeds or even white sesame seeds)
¼ cup grated unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons chopped almonds or cashews
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or white pepper (omit if you don’t like your food spicy)
½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
½ cup aquafaba (liquid from the chickpea can) or 2 batches of ‘flax egg’
½ teaspoon rose water
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice (or garam masala)
3 tablespoons onion powder
½ cup of chickpea flour
Salt and pepper to taste.
For the creamy cilantro sauce (makes ¾ cup) :
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 clove of garlic
2 teaspoon lime juice
½ cup coconut yogurt or any other non-dairy yogurt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt
What you do :
1. In a dry small pan add the black and green cardamoms, cloves, chili of Arbol, caraway seeds and poppy seeds. Put on medium heat and toast until fragrant but not browned.
2. Add grated coconut and almonds/cashews to it and toast for 30 seconds or so. Keep stirring so that the spices don’t burn. Toasting the spices brings out their beautiful aroma.
3. Set aside to cool down.
4. Cube the tofu and pulse it in a food processor a few times to get a coarse crumble. If you don’t have a food processor you can just crumble the tofu with your hands.
5. Add the lentils into the tofu and pulse a few more times so that the lentils are broken down and mixed with the tofu. If not using a food processor, mash your lentils coarsely and mix with the tofu.
6. By this time your toasted spices should be cool enough. Grind them in a coffee grinder and add to the tofu mixture.
7. At this point pre-heat your oven to 400◦F/200◦C/Gas mark 6. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
8. In a small bowl mix apple sauce, aquafaba (or flax egg), rose water, onion powder, white/cayenne pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Add this to the tofu mixture and mix well to combine all the ingredients.
9. In the same pan you toasted the spices, add the chickpea flour and toast it over medium heat for a 1-2 minutes until the raw smell is cooked off and it starts to smell nutty. Then add it to the tofu mixture.
10. Season the whole mixture with salt and pepper at this point. I usually leave the task of determining the amount of salt upon you. You know, do it as per your taste. In my kitchen I keep most of the food pretty low salt. That might not be how everybody likes it!
11. Now moisten your palms with a little bit of water and form 6 burger patties out of the tofu mixture.
12. Spray a little oil on the foil lined cookie sheet and put the patties on it.
13. Put it in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
14. Take it out, spray a little more oil and flip. Bake for another 5 minutes.
15. Let cool down on the counter for a few minutes before you take them off the cookie sheet.
To make the sauce :
1. Roughly chop the garlic.
2. Add chopped cilantro, garlic and lime juice into your blender and blend until a puree is formed.
3. Add it to the non-dairy yogurt.
4. Add ground cumin and salt. Mix well. This can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Nutritional info (Per patty) :
Calories – 233 Cal
Carbohydrate – 18 g
Protein – 15 g
Fat – 10 g
Saturated fat – 5 g
Sugar – 4 g
Sodium – 45 mg
Dietary fiber – 8 g
Nutritional info for cilantro sauce (Per tablespoon) :
Calories – 8 Cal
Carbohydrate – 1 g
Protein – 0 g
Fat – 1 g
Saturated fat – 1 g
Sugar – 0 g
Sodium – 4 mg
Dietary fiber – 1 g
Serving suggestions :
Top the burger patties with creamy cilantro sauce, pea shoots or water cress and serve on toasted bun. I used gluten free pretzel buns.
Put the patties on bib lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves and serve the sauce on the side.
What goes well with it :
Regular French fries.
Sweet potato fries.
Any kind of root vegetable chips
Now my friend, you have made yourself a burger that surely falls within the “fine dining” category of food. Get prepared for all the ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s. Trust me, there will be plenty of them!
Do you have any questions? Any feedback after you’ve made it? I’d surely like to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.