08 December 2009

Armenian Lentil Burger

This is a burger for the book I've been working on. Forgive the laundry list of ingredients—it's definitely not a complicated recipe: You cook the lentils with some aromatics, then fry an onion with some spices, blitz the cooked onion and beans and some eggs in a food processor (though last week I made this with my friend Emily, who owns a meat grinder attachment for her Kitchen Aide, and—wow!—what a terrific way to make a veggie burger!), then shape the mixture into patties, and then cook them.

Now I've not been to Armenia before and I have very (very) limited experience with Armenian food. The inspiration for this burger comes from an Armenian friend who, when she learned about this book, insisted that an Armenian burger be included. And she was onto something! The allspice and cinnamon and clove lend a warming, even slightly numbing quality that is delicious. But do let me know if you make this and have any suggestions.

Armenian Lentil Burger

1 cup French lentils
2 T plus 1 t olive or grapeseed oil
1/2 onion, sliced into two quarters from the stem
2 whole cloves
1-inch piece ginger, sliced into two pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cinnamon stick
bay leaf
1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-3/4 t ground allspice
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2 pinches ground cloves
pinch cayenne
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 t grated fresh ginger
2 eggs
1/2 t salt
squeeze lemon
3/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs

Pick through the lentils and rinse thoroughly. Stud each of the onion quarters with a clove. In a lidded medium saucepan, heat the 1 teaspoon oil over medium high heat. Add the onion quarters, ginger pieces, garlic cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Stir, then cover and cook for one minute, until fragrant. Add the lentils and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Discard the aromatics (the onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf) and pour off any excess liquid.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion, ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and cayenne. Fry for about 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to caramelize. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about five minutes more, until the onions are fully cooked.

Set aside 1/2 cup of the cooked lentils. In a food processor, combine the remaining lentils, eggs, and onions, and pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the reserved lentils, salt, lemon juice, and breadcrumbs. Adjust seasonings. Using your hands, shape the mixture into four large or six medium patties (or if you want to mimic the photo, you can make about a dozen mini-burgers).

To panfry: heat two tablespoons olive, grapeseed, or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers, in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, cooking 5 to 6 minutes on each side until browned and firmed.

To bake: Preheat oven 350-degrees. Place burgers on a lightly greased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until browned and firmed in the middle. Flip them over halfway through the baking time.
Crispy vegetables are wonderful with this—slices of cucumber and radish and romaine and red onion—on a toasted bun or stuffed into a warm pita. It’s also good with this easy yogurt sauce:
1/2 red onion, minced
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1 small cucumber
1 cup Greek-style plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (loosely packed)
pinch cayenne

Combine the red onion and lemon juice and salt. Let stand while you grate or finely chop the cucumber. Stir in remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings and serve.


  1. YUM! I will definitely try this...am trying to cut down on meat and am looking for tasty alternatives....

  2. natural vitamin sources is to eat garlic to taste great, even better than the antibiotics he is my miracle swine flu.



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