spice burger

File photo of a variety of Indian spices. (IANS photo)

The quest for a better burger often focuses — wrongly — on the toppings. For Labor Day, let’s instead pack flavor into the meat itself.

In this recipe from our book “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we take inspiration from a cured pork sausage from Goa, in southern India. The chouriço-like spiced pork springs from the Portuguese roots of this former colonial outpost, but it comes suffused with a distinctively Indian flavor thanks to the spice blend garam masala.

The garam masala, cayenne and cumin first are mixed into a paste made from tangy yogurt, egg yolk and breadcrumbs, which helps the burgers stay moist. Mixing the spiced paste into the meat ensures the flavor is distributed evenly throughout each burger.

We keep the toppings simple to let the seasoning inside shine through, but the burgers are especially delicious topped with yogurt, torn fresh mint leaves, and thin slices of cucumber or tomato.

Indian-Spiced Pork Burgers

Start to finish: 35 minutes

Servings: 4

⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt, plus more to serve

5 teaspoons garam masala

5 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 large egg yolks

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pound ground pork

2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil

4 hamburger buns, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the panko, yogurt, garam masala, paprika, cumin, cayenne, egg yolks, garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup water. Using a fork, mash the mixture into a smooth paste. Add the pork and mix with your hands until evenly combined. Form into 4 patties, each about 4 inches in diameter, place on a large plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the burgers and cook until well browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip, reduce to medium-low and continue to cook until the patties are well browned on the second sides and the centers reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate, tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on the buns with additional yogurt on the side.

(India-West Staff Reporter adds: Any ground meat could probably be used.)

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