Paneer Burgers… or “Indian Cheeseburgers”

A while back, one of my prison buddies MasterChef friends – Duckie – posted a photo of her dinner on Facebook. While that in itself isn’t anything special – my FB news feed has been FLOODED with dinner pics, since coming home from this MC adventure – man, that photo was the stuff that dreams are made of. Well, most of her photos are – they always have everyone drooling – but this really stood out to me.

It was a burger that featured not a meat patty, but a big chunk of paneer that had been breaded with corn flakes! As she described it on her blog, Duckie’s Dine-asty:

“Paneer Burger! Fried paneer on a garlic roll with cabbage, carrot, and a sweet and spicy tamarind chutney…accompanied by sweet potato fries and curried ketchup!”

… I knew I’d have to do my own version, and SOON. The idea of just frying a big patty of paneer as a burger just seemed so hedonistic, it kind of made me giddy to think about it. I don’t usually get like that over something… vegetarian. LOL!

So, I thought about which direction I’d want to go with it. I decided that, rather than a cornflake breading, I’d go for a giant version of a paneer pakora. Rather than using my cilantro-mint chutney with it, I’d make a mayo based on that idea, for a creamier texture. Then, to top it off, a mess of quick pickled veggies for some color, brightness, and acidity!

YES. It was every bit as awesome as it looks. My husband claims “I could eat that again and again!”, and that it ranks right up there with my Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil and Gouda. Given how completely buts he is about THOSE.. that’s saying something!

So freaking good. Yum!

Duckie is ALL kinds of awesome, even beyond her cooking. She was one of the first people I met in LA, very friendly, outgoing, hilarious, and .. inclusive. On a personal note – she even publicly ripped a bully a new one on my behalf! I mean… in a spectacular fashion. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone do that for me. This whole thing has been filled with unique experiences for me, but I digress – Duckie is awesome. That is all. 🙂

Paneer Burgers with Quick Pickle and Cilantro-Mint Mayo
(Makes two big burgers)

1/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 green onion, thinly sliced on a long diagonal
1 small carrot, peeled
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Oil, for deep frying
1/2 cups garbanzo (chickpea) flour
2 Tbsp cup rice flour
1 1/2 tsp hot curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
pinch tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup water
12 oz brick of paneer, room temperature
1/4 cup additional garbanzo flour

2 burger buns of choice

Mix together mayo, cilantro, and mint. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Place sliced peppers and green onions into a bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips of carrot into the same bowl, until you have as much carrot as you would like (I used about as much carrot as I did red pepper). Whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour over the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Cover and set aside.

Start heating your oil to 375F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.

In a large bowl, combine flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and cilantro. Add water, stir well to form a thick batter. All batter to sit for 5 minutes or so, to soften the bean flour.

Slice your paneer into two “patties”. Sizing will depend on what shape your paneer loaf is in – we got two square patties, and a couple of extra sticks as a “side”. Toss patties with additional garbanzo flour, then dredge in the batter.

Carefully transfer paneer patties to the preheated oil. Fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown. Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer fried paneer to paper towels.

To construct the burgers:

Split the buns, toasting if desired. Spread cilantro-mint mayo on bottom half of each bun. Top with burger, and a generous helping of quick pickled veggies. Crown with top bun, enjoy!