Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vegetable Cutlet: The Indian Veggie Burger

As a vegetarian I do of course love the stereotypical vegetarian cuisine, the veggie burger. I've tried pretty much every brand (Morning Star, Boca, Gardenburger, Amy's) and have my likes and dislikes. (My favorite is the Morningstar Spicy Black Bean) I've always gotten upset when going to a restaurant and ordering a veggie burger they give me a Morningstar patty. Come on now, I didn't spend ten bucks for you to give me something I can get frozen, in a pack of four for around three bucks. Now when a restaurant does make a veggie burger from scratch, I'm always impressed. And I've had some good ones. Potato based, black bean based, rice based, some good stuff and some not so good, but I appreciate the work they do for the vegetarians, we're customers too! Seriously, if your going to put it on your menu, don't make it something I can access at a grocery store. (And make better with my own toppings!)

So I felt it was time to make my own veggie burger. What I didn't realize was that my mom has been making homemade veggie burgers all my life, except I didn't know that's what they were. They were disguised as vegetable cutlets! Vegetable cutlets are a popular Indian snack food. Traditionally, they are deep fried nuggets of potatoes mixed with some peripheral vegetables. They are often eaten as a snack with tea or as an appetizer. There is always an array of chutneys to dip them into or sometimes just good old ketchup. (Or sauce as it is referred to in India.) My mother would often make these when we had dinner parties, as an appetizer. It was always a guest dish, not an everyday eating meal dish.

A few years ago I made the traditional Indian dish of batata bhaji (sauteed potatoes in numerous spices) and had a ton of leftovers. I was searching for what to do with all the leftovers when I remembered veggie cutlets!  I decided to whip them up with the leftovers and what a scrumptious hit they were with me and Hubby. I realized at the time that based upon the shape of the patty, they could homemade veggie burgers. When I shared this information with my mom, she was already ahead of the game. Apparently vegetable cutlets were used as veggie burgers in her household. Why wasn't that shared with me? (Dad didn't even tell me about this?) So a fancy dish that was only made for guests was now a heavy rotation dish since the kids had flown the coop? I see how it goes.

So I often make vegetable cutlets. They're great as a vegetable patty or a veggie burger. Bambino and I prefer to eat them with plain yogurt, Hubby likes it smeared in sour cream and my parents eat it with sauce.

This past weekend I was looking for something fresh to make and I searched the vegetable bin in the pantry and basically took everything out and dumped into the patty. I do make a healthier version. I don't like to deep fry them, but instead skillet fry and then bake in the oven, just like my mom shared with me. It came out really good. And again, I got to utilize my griddle when making them!

I have no original recipe to link this to. This is another one I got from my mom and added my own flare to.

1 large baking potato
1 carrot, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3/4 cup cooked black beans (Optional. This is not traditional, but I had some cooked in the fridge so I threw them in there)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp jeera powder (Can substitute with 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp coriander)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 tsp vegetable oil per patty for skillet frying


1. Peel and chop potato into small pieces. Boil in water until cooked through.

2. In a large pot add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on medium high. Once oil is heated, move to side, add 1/2 tsp mustard seed, place cover and move back to medium high heat. Listen for mustard seeds to pop. Once popping is done take off cover.(Be careful! To get with a mustard seed can be painful!)

3. Add onions and saute until browned. Add in carrot and green peppers. Saute with onions until halfway cooked.

4. Add potatoes, blackbeans and cashews. Mix together.

5. Add turmeric powder, jeera powder (or cumin/coriander mix), salt, sugar and fennel seeds. Mix together. Lower heat to medium and let all vegetables cook through. (Potatoes should be mushy)

6. Once potato mixture is cooked, take off heat and let cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once mixture is cool enough to handle, take out 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Form patties from the potato mixture. (I prefer patties, but you can make balls too. But if you make balls know that unless you deep fry it it won't become completely browned on all sides.) Dunk in breadcrumbs and coat on all sides.

7. Warm skillet (or griddle!) to medium high. For each patty place about 3/4 tsp of vegetable oil in the skillet. Cook on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each, until browned.

Working the griddle, again!

8. Once browned, place on pregreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes per side.

9. Cool and serve! Can be eaten with ketchup, yogurt or even sour cream if you are crazy enough!

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 7
If I can make this dish, it's really not that difficult, but it does have numerous steps so it takes some time to put together. You could easily make the potato mixture a day ahead, keep it in the fridge over night and then cook it the next day. Makes life a little easier. Also, I loved using the griddle so I didn't have to pan fry each individually.

I've made this in the past and definitely going to make it again! (Especially since all three of us loved this dish, a rare occurrence in this house.)


  1. wow cashew!
    Your dad is going to love it. I am going to make with cahsew and eat with yougurt like Bambino.

    I will let you know the final results.
    yum yum yum !!

  2. I certainly will pen thsi and couple of your other vegeterian recepeis.I have Indian frien who is vegetarian and always have to think about the meal when she comes over:)

  3. Thanks, Dzoli! Let me know how your recipes turn out!