This burger has simple earthy green lentils and nutty brown rice at its core. So there's more than a passing nod to the whole-food tradition of vegan and vegetarian cooking. But don't let that put you off.
Gently spiced with a satisfying light texture, these little vegetarian lentil patties are soothingly pleasureable to eat.
This is not a new recipe by any means. I've been making variants of it for years and with all kinds of lentils. If you choose to substitute, you may need to adjust the cooking time for the lentils if you a smaller variety like puy lentils. For the burgers, the lentils should be soft when cooked but not mushy.
1 cup/200g green lentils
½ cup/100g long grain brown rice
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 medium carrot, grated
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of chilli powder
Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground pepper
Maize meal or flour for coating.
Cook the rice until just tender but still slightly firm. I don't use any complicated formula for cooking brown rice for this recipe. I just cook it in a pot with plenty of water for about 35-40 minutes. Cooking times vary widely for brown rice and it can take closer to an hour depending on the rice you are using. Once it's cooked, sit the pot in the sink and run cold water on it directly in the pot for a couple of minutes to cool. Tip the rice into a sieve or fine mesh strainer and allow to drain for at least 10 minutes so that it's good and dry.
Meanwhile cook the lentils. There is no need to soak them. Cover them in about twice their volume of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until cooked - about 20-30 minutes. Then drain well. When cooked, green lentils are soft but hold their shape well like in this picture.
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Gently fry the onion in a little oil until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and carrot and continue to fry until soft.
Stir in the cumin, coriander and chilli and cook for a minute.
Add the onion mixture and rice to the cooked lentils. At this stage, you have two choices. You can pulse the mixture in a food processor for a smooth textured burger or you can just roughly mash the mixture with a fork or potato masher. This will give you a more rustic texture.
Season to taste with lemon juice, black pepper and a generous grinding of salt. Lentils do like salt so don't be too mean with it. Allow to cool a little.
Shape the mixture into little lentil patties (you should get about 8) and roll them in maize meal or flour.
Fry the burgers for a few minutes on each side until golden. You can keep the lentil burger warm in the oven if you are cooking them in batches. In fact, I like to finish them off in the oven anyway. I think it gives them a nice crisp coating.
The burgers can also be cooked on a charcoal grill and make a really good veggie barbecue option.
I like these patties with some barbeque sauce or a yoghurt sauce like raita and some homemade potato roasties (or fries!) and salad. Or of course, all of your barbeque trimmings will work great too if that's how you are cooking the burgers.
I love the fact that these lentil burgers freeze so well. Once you've made a batch (and I usually make a big batch) you have all the convenience of a bought variety of frozen burgers but with all the goodness of something homemade.