Garam Masala Chicken Burgers With Tomato Relish 5.000

John McDonnell/The Washington Post

Nourish Aug 11, 2010

I don't understand the current craze for burgers topped with layer after layer of embellishments. When you're splurging on a burger, buy the best meat you can find and enjoy it as is. It's perfect on its own.

However, when you want to experiment, try this chicken burger. It is seasoned with garam masala, an Indian spice blend, plus sauteed sweet onion, fresh and ground ginger, garlic and cumin. The mix brings moisture and flavor to the burger, and it serves as the base for a flavorful tomato relish.

You can eat this with or without a bun; my favorite platform for it is grilled tandoori bread, which once was available only at Indian restaurants but now is carried, fresh or frozen, by many supermarkets.

Servings: 5
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2-inch piece peeled ginger root, finely grated or minced (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 8 ounces sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Maui Maui, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups; see NOTE)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • About 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-to-2-inch cubes, ground in a food processor (may substitute 1 1/4 pounds ground chicken breast)
  • 2 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs, plus 1/4 cup for coating the burgers
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat milk


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Choose a shallow baking pan large enough to hold the burgers; line it with aluminum foil.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onion, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt, the garam masala, cumin and ground ginger; cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion is soft and the spices are fragrant. Adjust the heat as needed so the onion cooks but does not brown.

When the onion is done, transfer half of the onion mixture to a medium bowl.

Add the tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, water and brown sugar to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium so the liquid in the skillet is bubbling at the edges. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the flavors have blended. Remove from the heat, and transfer the relish to a small bowl. Add the cilantro and stir to incorporate.

Add the chicken to the bowl containing the cooked onion mixture along with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs, the milk and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Mix the ingredients to thoroughly combine everything.

Have a plate ready for the chicken burgers. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs on a small plate.

Working with one-fifth of the chicken mixture, form a burger-shaped patty 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Place the burger on the bread crumbs, turning to coat both sides. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken mixture. Discard any excess bread crumbs.

Heat 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers, working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned on the first side. Turn the burgers over and cook for 1 minute to sear the second side, adding a teaspoon or so of oil as needed, then transfer the burgers to the foil-lined pan.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the burgers registers 170 degrees.

Transfer to the stovetop (off the heat); let the burgers rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Top each burger with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the tomato relish.

NOTE: To peel tomatoes, boil a pot of water or fill a large bowl with very hot water. Use a sharp knife to score a shallow "X" in the bottom of each tomato. Place them in the water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain; when cool enough to handle, discard the loosened skins.

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From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.

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