This has been quite an educating and rewarding week for me. I happened to spent some time generally lazing around and surfing on the web, stopping by some inspirational food photography blogs. Blogs that are already on my radar, as well as discovering new awe-inspiring ones and adding them to the list. As always, I am hugely struck by the amazing skills of the people working behind the screens. Multitalented people who can cook, write and—take gorgeous photographs.
More often than not I’m so much in awe of such versatile personalities that it kinda borders envy. Frankly, I envy their skills. See...with a whooping passion to create beautiful imagery, each time I connect to my little space after hitting another awesome blog, I cannot help feeling a twinge of disappointment. Yes, disappointment at my lack of creativity, and lack of efforts in making this space a better place for you and I to stop by and enjoy. As they say, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Perhaps a total amateur like me needs to travel long miles before ever thinking of having that kinda picture here.
I wish I had at least three essential gears to improve my food shots: a good digital SLR camera, a tripod and some good vintage props. Er…not to mention the extra cash needed to go shopping or prop hunting—sigh. Wonder why I didn’t venture into food photography and styling when I had a good career!!? I could easily have splurged dollars without second thoughts. In retrospect, when I had a job I was busy with my work responsibilities during the day, and my lessons and school at night. All in an attempt to climb the corporate ladder. Sadly, I had no time to purse any other passion—it’s no good pretending otherwise.
Six months ago (yep, I'm counting), when I started my blog adventure, I never knew it would be so fulfilling and rewarding. Particularly when blogging is an expensive obsession and I’m earning no money in return. But today, half a year later, I feel I'm truly lucky to have experienced such great memories, such enriching moments. Today, I’m glad to have found my niche—to be part of a creative virtual community where borders and time zones don't exisit, and to have learned a ton in the meanwhile. This’s a cultural melting pot, way beyond the scale of multicultural environments I’m used to, when I was employed in a corporate environment. It’s been a truly humbling opportunity and needless to say, without your encouragement I simply wouldn’t have survived this long. You make this space different, this journey worthwhile. You are an amazing audience. You, whom I’ve never met face-to-face, yet you who still bring a smile to my face.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Okay, let’s hit the recipe. What do you say about a veggie burger—a patty resembling a hamburger but made with vegetable protein instead of the classic meat, and slathered with homemade condiments like coriander and tamarind chutney? Sounds like a healthy option for summer entertainment, right? Especially if you have veggies at your party or barbeque.
I love using pickled jalapenos in sandwiches, salads, and pizzas; I used it here too. For the veggies, I used slices of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, tender green ends of lettuce, olives, coriander and zucchini. There are no hard and fast rules—use your imagination, taste, or handy ingredients to guide you. Make big fatty patties or flat ones diminutive in size. For a fun party food, you can even make mini burgers. Whatever, it’s quite satiating.
(lightly adapted from Good Food magazine)
400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon chili flakes
1 small zucchini (courgette), trimmed, peeled and grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 egg white (optional)
juice of 1 lime
1 small green chili, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro leaves (coriander), chopped
100g breadcrumbs, divided
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
sesame seed burger buns or wholegrain buns, halved crossways and toasted in butter
1 cucumber, finely sliced
lettuce leaves, clipped to bun size pieces (I used Frisbee)
1 large tomato, sliced
1 small onion, finely sliced
pickled jalapeno, 2 slices per burger (optional)
black olive slices, to serve
chili sauce, to serve
coriander sprigs, to serve
For coriander chutney
1 cup tightly packed cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 green chili, sliced
3 small shallots
1/3 cup water
For sweet tamarind chutney
2 teaspoon tamarind paste
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon chat masala powder
½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (optional)
1 cup water
In a food processor, slightly pulse the chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, green chili, chili flakes, egg white (if using) and some seasoning. Scrape into a bowl and mix with 80g of breadcrumbs, diced onions and zucchini.
Divide mixture evenly into 6-8 patties and shape into big fat patties or flat diminutive ones, as you prefer. Press remaining breadcrumbs onto both sides and chill for about15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chutneys. To make coriander chutney, toast the cumin and mustard sees in a skillet until fragrant. Then, place all ingredients in a blender, and purée until smooth; set aside. For the tamarind chutney, mix all ingredients in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool—the mixture will thicken as it cools.
Add oil to a non-stick skillet, swill to coat, and heat over medium heat until just beginning to smoke. Fry the chilled burgers 5-6 minutes each side or until crisp brown crust has formed, making sure they don’t burn.
Brush the insides of the buns lightly with butter, then place cut side down on a grill pan and cook until toasted, about a minute.
For each burger, spread a generous amount of coriander and tamarind chutney on the bottom of the bun, top with lettuce leaves, 2 slices tomato and 2 slices jalapeños. Place a patty each on top, then layer on the onion slices, cucumber, olives and coriander leaves. Top with a dollop of chili sauce, close the sandwich, slip into wax paper sleeves or insert skewers, and—chomp!
If you have any remaining chutney, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
These days I cannot think straight with the kinda of hot, dusty atmosphere where I live in. I just can't wait to have a lovely break and enjoy the monsoon rains back home. Soon, I know.
For now, I'm leaving you with this good-for-your-health burger and I hope you get to try it. Enjoy the weekend!