Gopal’s Famous Vegie-Nut Burgers

These burgers are much loved in my family. I have been making them for the last 25 years. They are so wholesome – rice, lentils, vegetables and peanut butter with spices and herbs. This much loved recipe comes from the famous chef Kurma Dasa of the Hare Krishna movement. It’s from his book Great Vegetarian Dishes, a book that’s been used so much that it smells of food!

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Though the recipe calls for brown lentils, I found that brown chickpeas are actually more tasty. I don’t know if these dark coloured chickpeas are found outside India. They are perfect for this burger patty. Once you make this burger, you really won’t miss the meat. It’s really rich and satisfying. I usually make it in bulk and store it in the freezer. The patties are baked and then pan-fried. You could also shape them into rolls and serve them hot-dog style. Either way, they are a real comfort food.

To make this a vegan dish, you just have to substitute vegan mayonnaise/tahini instead of the cream and omit the eggs. You could also use any sauce of your choice, like tomato ketchup, etc. You could also use herbs like basil and oregano with parsley. This recipe makes 16 burgers.

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PREP: 40 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup cooked short-grain rice (it should be sticky)

11/2 cups cooked brown lentils/chickpeas, drained

½ cup carrots, shredded coarsely

11/2 cups breadcrumbs

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp Chinese sesame oil

2 tsp fresh mint, chopped

2 tsp fresh curry leaves, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tsp yellow asafoetida powder

½ cup fresh coriander, chopped

1 tsp red chilli powder

To assemble

Barbecue Sauce

Lettuce leaves

Tomatoes

Boiled eggs, chopped

Sour cream

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Process the chickpeas in a food processor until they are coarsely mashed.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and knead well.

Pinch off 16 portions of the mixture, roll them into smooth balls, and with wet hands, press them into 3-inch patties.

Arrange the patties on a lightly oiled baking sheet and place them in the oven. Bake the patties for 15 minutes and turn them over until they darken slightly and dry out somewhat.

The burgers can now be refrigerated or frozen. Pan-fry them in butter or oil until they are hot, then use on bread rolls with your favourite sauces, salads and toppings.

I used some barbeque sauce which is a lovely combination with this burger, lettuce leaves, tomatoes, boiled eggs and sour cream to assemble the burger.

Black Eyed Beans and Coconut Milk Curry

The cuisine of Kerala is very unique – some dishes are fiery while others are very delicately flavoured like this curry. Most of the recipes have coconut in them, in some form or the other. This dish is called Olan and is traditionally prepared with pumpkin. But you can use any vegetable – I added green beans to this curry.

Coconut oil is the preferred oil for cooking in this region. This dish is very nutritious and easy to prepare. It goes well with steamed rice, chapatis or any other type of flatbread.

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PREP: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 40 minutes SERVES: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4th cup black eyed beans
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 11/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp rice flour mixed with 2-3 tbsp of water
  • Salt to taste

For the tempering

  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 shallots, sliced thinly
  • Curry leaves

Soak the black eyed beans overnight. Wash and pressure cook with three cups of water.

Top and tail the green beans and cut them into one inch pieces.

Cook the green beans, green chillies, cumin and salt together in a pan with one cup of water. When the beans are tender, add the cooked black eyed beans and ½ cup of the coconut milk. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Add the rice flour mixed with water and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the remaining coconut milk and heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they stop popping add the shallots and cook for a few minutes. Add the curry leaves and remove immediately from the heat. Add this to the curry. Serve hot.

Curried Sweet Potato Rice

The health benefits of eating sweet potatoes are widely known. The people on the island of Okinawa in Japan apparently eat them everyday and their long lives are attributed to this diet along with some other foods.

I wanted to use the sweet potatoes with rice and I was quite pleased with the results. In India, pulao is a dish made with a combination of Basmati rice with other vegetables, meat, etc. and spices. Instead of using the traditional spices normally used with pulao, I just used some curry powder. It paired very well with the sweet potatoes and brought out the flavour of the veggies.

Make sure that the Basmati rice is fragrant. The rice should be fluffy when cooked but the grains should be separate. You can add a teaspoon of lime juice, which also helps to keep the rice grains separate. The rice should be cooled before adding the vegetables.

This is a very quick and easy recipe – a real comfort food. It can be served with plain yoghurt, sliced onions, fried/roasted poppadums and lime/lemon wedges.

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PREP: 30 minutes COOK TIME: 25 minutes SERVES: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, cubed
  • 2 onions, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tsp Madras Curry powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup cashewnuts
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander

Instructions

Soak the Basmati Rice in 2 cups of water and 1 tsp salt for 15 minutes. Cook until the rice is cooked but the grains are still separate. (A rice cooker works very well).

Heat the ghee and fry the cashewnuts to a golden brown. Reserve a few for garnishing and empty the rest into the rice along with the ghee. Mix gently and set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a large wok and add the onions and sweet potatoes and saute on a medium heat, until they are lightly caramelised and the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Reserve some onions for the garnish. Add the chilli powder, curry powder and enough salt and mix well.

Mix the rice and the sweet potato mixture gently without breaking the rice. Garnish with the remaining onions, cashewnuts and coriander. Serve immediately.

Hot Lentil Rice Dish

This dish is a favourite from the Southern state Karnataka. It is called Bisi Bele Bath, a spicy rice dish with lentils. This is a very unique dish from the Kannada cuisine and this recipe is very tasty.

This rice dish is different from the Sambar Rice prepared in Tamilnadu.

It’s important to dry roast the ingredients for the spice mix and blend to a fine powder. If dry coconut is not available, you can dry roast some fresh coconut until it is dry and use that instead. Tamarind paste can be substituted for fresh tamarind.

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It’s very essential to use ghee for seasoning the rice. I usually fry the cashewnuts in the ghee. There’s nothing that can replace the aroma and taste of ghee.

I have used peas but you can substitute it with any vegetable of your choice – carrots, potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower. It is a really wholesome dish and can be prepared for breakfast or lunch.

Hot Lentil Rice Dish

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup yellow toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Salt to taste

For the spice mix

  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ tbsp urad dal
  • 6 red chillis
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 6 tbsp dried coconut (copra)
  • ½ tsp shahjeera
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

For Seasoning

  • ½ tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 10 sambar onions (shallots)
  • Curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 gms cashewnuts (split)
  • ½ cup ghee

Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice mix and blend to a fine powder.

Cook the rice and dal in a rice cooker with 8 cups of water. It should be well cooked. Add the tamarind paste, salt and the spice mix and mix well. Allow to cook for a few minutes more.

Heat the oil for the seasoning, and add the mustard. When they stop popping add the dal. When the dal is golden, add the curry leaves and onions. When the onions are cooked, add the seasoning to the rice and dal mixture. If it is dry, add a cup of hot water. Add the frozen peas and mix well.

Heat the ghee and add the cashewnuts. Reserve a few for decoration and add the remaining with the ghee to the rice. Mix well.

Serve hot, garnished with fried cashewnuts.