Veganism has become a very popular lifestyle recently and it seems it is not going anywhere anytime soon. With the growing concerns of animal welfare and environmental issues directly associated with animal agriculture, many choose to adopt this way of living. I am no food expert nor a vegan, so I am not going to discuss any further about veganism, but as a baker I have to take things like this into consideration when developing recipes. I love a good challenge and creating the perfect burger without using animal products or by products seems like the perfect project to undertake.
My Dad turned a vegetarian when we were small and I remember how my Mom found creative/alternative ways to include protein in his diet. Luckily he is an ovo-vegetarian so yes eggs were his savior.
It’s not just about the nutrients, but taste as well. Vegetables are actually packed full of flavor, if you know how to cook them in such a way that you bring out the best in them. I am lucky that I got to learn exactly how to do that, as Sri Lankan cuisine is all about letting vegetables shine.
So back to the burgers, The first hurdle is the bun. Well, I know my sourdough burger buns recipe can be easily converted to a vegan one. You can omit the egg and replace any milk or butter with it’s plant based counterparts. However, the resulting bun may be a little drier and lack taste. So to fix this, I have replaced some flour(and water) with boiled mashed potatoes. This resulted in a fluffier bun with a softer(yet with a good byte)crumb.
Following is the recipe, if you want to see the process of making these, it is similar to Sourdough Burger Buns . So check the step by step pictures in that post to get an idea. If you have already made burger buns before, then just follow the same process using the following recipe as a guide.
Okay so the bun is sorted out! Now for the burger patty. Well it is no secret that there are amazing ways to create a vegan/vegetarian patty using potatoes. Also I have seen burgers replacing the meat patty with a grilled or fried thick whole Portabello mushroom, which tastes fantastic by the way! But I am taking a slightly different approach here and use cooked young jackfruit in my patty. Along with this, some Chanterelle mushrooms. Chanterelle are fleshy, firm and contains less water so is perfect for this job. Feel free to substitute with other meaty, less watery mushrooms.
Young Jackfruit is something eaten often in Sri Lanka as we have plenty of these growing in our backyards. The taste of the flesh when cooked is remarkably similar to chicken and can be shredded like meat. So this is used in many recipes, to replace chicken and sometimes in place of pulled pork. We make patties (empanada) and cutlets (fish cakes) with cooked young jackfruit and potato. But often, young jackfruit is cooked like a Red chicken curry.
Here is the recipe for making the patty. Now if you can’t find the jackfruit, feel free to substitute it with mashed potatoes and this will still be delicious.
Vegan Burger Patty
1 can of young jackfruit in brine (280 g drained weight)
11/2 cups of shredded Chanterelle mushrooms (it’s okay to use slightly more or less)
1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
1 Thai chili pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary and oregano each ( use other herbs you like)
1 stalk of curry leaves, finely shredded (optional)
hand full of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped (some stalks are okay)
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp chili powder (or cayenne pepper)
1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
splash of soy sauce
3 tbsp. chickpea flour (besan flour)
Bit of oil to fry the patties
Prepare the young jackfruit by draining the brine
Cut off the small core that’s left in each piece. The core bits are watery and less fleshy
Smash them using your fingers or a folk
Use a big clean tea towel or a cheesecloth to squeeze out all the water from the flesh. Remove as much water as possible
Once water is removed, the young jackfruit flesh will look like shredded cooked meat(chicken)
Stir fry the shredded mushroom for a few minutes until they are a bit wilted and fried, let this cool
Now place everything in a big bowl and mix well. Using your hands is the best method. Knead the mixture thoroughly. By kneading or mixing like this, you help bind everything together
Take a small amount of the mixture and see if you can form a ball or a patty without bits and pieces falling apart. If so, you are done mixing. Otherwise add bit more chickpea flour
You can use potato flour instead of chickpea flour. If you are vegetarian ( eat eggs) use an egg instead of chickpea flour to bind the mixture together
Once done, make patties with the mixture. Will yield 4 small or 3 medium or 2 large patties
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Use a small about of oil, just to stop sticking
Cook/fry the patties for about 10 minutes turning frequently. You can cook longer to get the desired color on the outside. A longer cooking time is needed to cook off the raw flour used in the recipe
Once done set aside to cool slightly before assembling the burger
If using fresh young jackfruit, steam or cook(boil) them until very soft before using in the recipe. make sure to remove the thick outer skin and the core. Use only the shred-able flesh bits.
Now that the bun and patty are sorted, lets build the burger. Following is what I used to create this burger, feel free to use whatever you like and replace or mix and match things as you wish. – a slice of grilled pineapple – caramelized onions – slice of thick tomato – lettuce – a balsamic reduction to brush the patty to give it color (because looks matter too) – mashed avocado in place of cheese/butter – quick sauce made with yellow mustard, lemon juice and some olive oil (just add equal parts in a small container and shake well)
Split the bun and grill both sides slightly. Set the bottom half on a surface, spread some avocado mixture, place the lettuce. Brush the patty with a little balsamic reduction and place on the lettuce. Spread a thick layer of avocado mixture on the patty. Place the tomato and then caramelized onions followed by the pineapple. Drizzle the mustard sauce and place the top half of the bun.