Succulent, Spicy Hamburgers with Mango Salsa

This hamburger recipe is the perfect all-American dinner with an Indian twist. The burgers are packed with robust spices—garlic, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne—which come together seamlessly to create an incredibly savory burger experience. The secret to keeping it juicy is to grate an onion directly into the meat. Topping it all off is a spicy/sweet mango salsa that counterbalances the burger with fresh, tropical flavors.

Living in Manhattan, I don’t have an outdoor grill, so I use a cast-iron skillet or grill pan. But if you’re fortunate enough to be able to cook outside, these burgers would be even more delicious with a hit of smoky charcoal. And if your butcher happens to carry ground lamb, that’s another (more authentically Indian) variation to try.

Serve with:
Sweet Potato Fries
Mango Lassi
(recipes in the book!)

Serves 4

1½ pounds ground chuck beef
½ medium onion, grated
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced or grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cayenne (use a little more if you want it spicy)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Canola oil
Toasted hamburger buns, for serving

For the Mango Salsa:
1 cup finely chopped, ripe mangoes (or frozen, thawed)
½ pint grape tomatoes, quartered
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon salt
1 Indian green chilli*, minced
Juice of ½ to 1 lime, to taste
* available in Indian grocery stores (aka Thai bird’s eye chili)

  1. Preheat a cast-iron grill pan or skillet over high heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat with the onion, cilantro, garlic, ginger, salt, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and cloves. Use your hands to work the spices into the meat.
  3. Divide the meat into 4 equal parts. Form each quarter into a patty. Press down the center of each patty with your thumb to create a dimple (which will flatten when cooked).
  4. Brush each patty with oil and place on the hot skillet. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook the other side over medium-high heat for an additional 4 minutes (for medium-rare) or 6 to 8 minutes (for medium-well).
  5. Meanwhile, for the salsa, combine all the ingredients for the mango salsa in a mixing bowl. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  6. Serve the burgers on toasted buns with all the traditional fixings, plus a generous helping of mango salsa—or, serve the salsa on the side as a refreshing salad.

Reprinted from Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films by Sri Rao (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

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