This recipe was originally designed for kebabs, but the authors converted it to patties so the meat could be used by American grillers as an Indian version of hamburgers. In either form, the result is delicious. If you want to try this outside of grilling season, the patties can be panfried. Frying gives a crunchy crust to the patties. This recipe comes from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid in Mangoes and Curry Leaves, page 268.
If you want less spice heat, reduce the cayenne to ¼ tsp.
About 1 lb. best-quality lean ground beef
½ cup finely chopped or grated onion or shallots
1 tsp minced ginger or ginger ground to a paste [optional]
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ to ½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
¼ cup plain [full or reduced-fat] yogurt
1 tsp rice vinegar
¼ to ½ cup packed chopped coriander leaves or ¼ cup minced mint leaves
Peanut oil or vegetable oil
1. Place the meat in a bowl, add the onions or shallots, ginger, if using, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, yogurt, and vinegar, and mix well with your hands or a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, turning and mashing and kneading to lend the flavors and to get a smooth texture. A smooth elastic texture helps the meat hold together during cooking. (The mixture can be refrigerated, covered, for several hours. Remove from the refrigerator half an hour before cooking.)
2. Add the coriander or mint and mix in. Put out two plates and lightly oil them.
3. To shape eight medium patties, wet your hands with water, then scoop up about ¼ cup of the mixture. Use your hands to shape and press it into an oval or round ¾ inch thick. Give it several light but firm squeezes so it holds its shape, then place it on an oiled plate and repeat with the remaining meat.
4. To grill the patties, prepare grill. Lightly oil the rack. Transfer the patties to the grill and cook over a medium flame, turning them after 5 minutes or so, until done the way you like them. Do not press and flatten the meat with your spatula.
5. To panfry the patties, place a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil, then lower the heat to medium high. Put in as many patties as fit comfortably in the pan. If you like a slightly crusty outside, leave the heat at medium high; if you want a softer outside, lower the heat to medium. Cook for about 3 minutes over medium-high. 4 minutes over medium, then turn the patties and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side.
Makes 8 medium beef patties; serves 4.