Ok- so you reckon a burger, is a burger, is a burger, right?
Think again and open your mind to something a little different.
I guarantee this Summery, spicy little devil will tantalize your taste-buds and satisfy your culinary curiosity in one fell swoop. Put away those awful, soggy white bread rolls and tuck-in to a simple but sophisticated taste of luxury...
Let's start with the lentils, as they are going to need to cool to make your salad. Red lentils have a much shorter cooking time than the ordinary brown ones. If you overdo them, you will find you have a saucepan full of lentil-skins and a pale orange mush. So don't! This is my easy way of doing it.
Chop a little garlic, celery and onion very finely and brown them in a saucepan with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of cumin seeds. Add the lentils and stir. Season with salt, pepper and some chili flakes and cover with boiling water. The water should be barely above the height of the lentils. Cook for 5-6 minutes at a steady boil and then remove from the heat. Check to see how much water the lentils have absorbed- if necessary add a little more so that they are still moist but not swimming. At this point they should be half-done but still have a little "bite". Put the lid back on and set them to one side- the heat remaining in the pan and the water will finish cooking the lentils for you without you worrying about overcooking them.
The burger itself is a very different animal to the regular beef burger you are used to. This little creation is a bit more delicate and may not stand up to the rigors of an outdoor grill- so beware! I opted for a dry Teflon pan and suggest you try the same for your first attempts. Either that or a broiler at a medium setting.
I used a mix of 2-parts veal to 1-part pork. Any lean cut should be ok. Cut into cubes and put them into your blender. Add a couple of ice-cubes and a splash of cream. Flavor with thyme, spring onions, salt and pepper. Whiz everything together on pulse until you have a nice compact mass. The ice-cubes help the meat and the cream to bind nicely... it is something about the protein or so I'm told. Whatever. It works better if the mixture is cool and that's the bottom line. I am guessing that it is to prevent the machine heating up and the cream curdling. Add about a quarter the amount of meat in bread crumbs into the mix to give it a bit more body. You can add an egg into the mix if you feel it will help bind everything a little better, but it is not a deal breaker. The gentle cooking is what it is all about. But we will come to that in a few minutes...
First get ready to shape your patties and get cooking!
A good tip is to dip your fingers into a glass of water before doing so, as the mixture will be a bit sticky. My mom used to do this when she made meatballs and it just makes life easier. Thank you mom!
Don't rush these or overheat them- a medium flame is good and again, I prefer to use no or very little fat in the pan. The natural juices of the meat will appear soon enough and they will be enough to keep the burger from sticking on Teflon. Don't fuss them around too much... patience will reward you with a lovely golden-brown color on the outside and a mild, tender and moist center. They will need around 6-7 minutes on each side generally speaking.
Now to the curried lemon sauce. So easy and so delicious! Grate the zest of one lemon and squeeze the juice- add these to a couple of spoons of lemon marmalade until you have a nice consistency and season with salt and pepper. Add powdered ginger and your favorite Indian curry- the typical Madras curry works wonderfully here. There should be enough sweet and sourness going on with the juice and the jam and enough added flavor with the ginger and curry... all you need to do is to season with salt until the result tastes balanced and mild. Back to the lentils. Stir a chopped scallion into your lentils and add a drop of roasted sesame oil and a drizzle of honey. Fill into a small ramekin and turn-out onto your dish. Top with some finely sliced, seeded cucumber. The fresh, mild flavor is a nice contrast to the tangy curry sauce.
Slice the burger and fan it out a little on your plate. It is just nicer to do it this way- the presentation is prettier and all of the flavors combine so much more nicely. Drizzle with the curry sauce and sprinkle with a little more spring onion slices. A few chili-threads are a nice finishing touch. And the thought that you would never get anything this awesome at a burger joint is a great feeling too! Enjoy!