Indian Spiced Vegetable Burgers

Dsc02596 There are some foods that were never destined to be more than a flash in the pan, no matter how many millions of marketing dollars were invested in them.  McDonald’s has had a few flops that come to mind: McRib, Arch Deluxe, the Michael Jordan Burger, and of course the ill-fated McDLT, with its separate sides for hot and cold ingredients.  Huh?  Remember the green and purple colored ketchup, which I’m guessing was meant to be "fun?"  It wasn’t.  All this product did was send your taste buds signals that you should be tasting grape or lime on your fries, not tomato.  Yes, good times.  And then there’s the granddaddy of them all, New Coke (which, after it flopped, was replaced by Coke Classic, a.k.a. Old Coke.)  Folks, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the chickpea, or garbanzo bean, whatever you prefer to call it.  Doing a little research for today’s post (believe it or not, I don’t make this stuff up,) I learned that 7,500 year old remains of these legumes have been discovered in the Middle East.  Now that’s a food that stands the test of time.  I mean, how many other foods can you name from the Neolithic era?  It must be, as Martha would say, a good thing.

I’ve loved garbanzo beans ever since I had my first taste of hummus.  I love their buttery smooth flavor and their superfood-worthy nutritional profile.  Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, folate, iron, zinc, and the list goes on and on.  Because they are so filling, these beans are a perfect substitution for meat in salads, soups, stews, and in this case, burgers.  With their crisp exterior and creamy center, these Indian cuisine-inspired veggie burgers are part potato pancake and part falafel.  Best served in a pita pocket, so they won’t fall apart, the patties are very filling, but low-fat.  Dress them up however you like, but they really don’t need more than a little dollop of chutney–and certainly no purple ketchup!  Here are some extra tips for these bean based burgers:

  • Do not try to cook these burgers without chilling the mixture first.  Chilling allows the mixture to bind, and the patties will fall apart otherwise.
  • Garam Masala is a spice blend, which is very common in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.  You should be able to find it in your grocery store’s spice section.  You can replace the Garam Masala with curry powder, if desired, but it won’t have quite the same toasty, spicy flavor.
  • Make smaller portions of the burger and serve a few as an appetizer or as hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail party.  Top each patty with some chutney for serving.
  • Instead of regular breadcrumbs, you can also use panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs, which are a little bit lighter.

Indian Spiced Vegetable Burgers

Makes 8


1 1/4 cups canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1 teaspoon Garam MasalaDsc02602

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1 jalapeno, seeded and quartered

2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 2/3 cup baby spinach, arugula, or mixed greens

4 whole wheat pitas, halved

Sliced red onion

Mango Chutney (optional)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, cilantro, carrot, Garam Masala, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, and jalapeno.  Process the mixture until it is finely chopped.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover it with water.  Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes for 12 minutes.  Add the onion, and cook for 3 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Drain; cool for 10 minutes.  Place the potato mixture in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork.  Stir in the garbanzo bean mixture and breadcrumbs.  Cover the mixture and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Divide the mixture into 8 portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch thick patty.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 4 of the patties to the pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until browned and heated through.  Repeat the procedure with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and patties.  Place about 1/3 cup spinach or arugula in each pita half and top with 1 patty, red onion, and some mango chutney.


  1. says

    These look great! For a while, I was buying the vegetable burgers at Trader Joe’s which had Indian spices in them. Now I can make them myself (especially since I don’t think they sell them anymore.)

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