A cheeseburger and fries will conjure up very precise images for most people but in actual fact, the concept is extremely variable and can be adapted to suit a wide variety of tastes, cultural identities and food ingredients. This recipe is an Indian twist on a cheeseburger and fries, incorporating homemade Indian style soft cheese and a slightly different version of Indian restaurant style spiced onions. It is necessary to make the cheese and prepare the spiced onions in advance so these procedures are explained before the recipe for the main dish is detailed.
Curried lamb burger with spiced onions and paneer cheese served between two mini naan breads and with potato wedges
How to Make Paneer Cheese
The cheese used in this recipe was not the conventional type of cheese normally associated with burgers but was actually homemade paneer cheese. This is a type of soft cheese associated with India and surrounding countries and actually couldn't be easier to make at home. True paneer contains only two ingredients - milk and an acid such as lemon juice - but it has to be said this does make for a fairly bland creation. In this instance, a few extra flavorings have been added to suit the nature of the overall dish. The ingredient quantities used in this instance will make a ball of paneer cheese approximately the size of a tennis ball.
Pour 1¼ pints, US (1 pint, UK), of whole milk (must not be skimmed or even semi-skimmed) in to a saucepan. Add a peeled and grated garlic clove, a generous pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of dried mint. Put the pan on to a medium heat and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until the milk just starts to boil and no more.
Turn the heat off under the pan and pour in the juice of one large lemon. Continue to stir for two to three minutes until you can clearly see the curds have separated from the whey.
Suspend a fine sieve over a large bowl and line it with a large sheet of cheesecloth or muslin. Carefully pour in the milk mixture and leave for twenty minutes or so to cool considerably and allow comfortable handling of the strained curds.
When the curds have cooled sufficiently, gather up all the edges of the cloth to fully enclose the contents. Squeeze carefully but well to get rid of as much of the excess whey as possible and shape the forming cheese in to a ball. When this is done, place a small plate over the cheese, still lying in the sieve, and weight it with a couple of large food cans or similar. Refrigerate for a minimum two to three hours. Note that refrigerating it overnight will produce a firmer, crumblier cheese.
How to Make Spiced Onions
This quantity of spiced onions will serve approximately four people in the context of the main featured dish. Begin by adding two tablespoons of tomato ketchup, 1 teaspoon of medium chili powder, 1 teaspoon of mint sauce, salt and pepper to a medium sized mixing bowl. Make sure the bowl is glass or stone as the chili may stain plastic. Stir very well to ensure all the ingredients are evenly combined.
Take one small onion, peel it and cut it in half down through the core. Lay each half flat on a chopping board and slice across the way. Separate each slice in to strands and stir the strands in to the spicy sauce. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required.
Main Dish Ingredients (Serves 1)
- 1 medium to large baking potato
- ¼ pound ground (minced) lamb
- 1 teaspoon medium curry powder
- 1 small medium strength red chili
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), plus extra to garnish
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for frying
- 1 teaspoon medium strength chili powder
- 2 mini naan breads
- 1 tablespoon spiced onions prepared earlier
- 2 or 3 slices paneer cheese prepared earlier
Wash but don't peel the potato and cut it in half length ways. Cut each half in to three or four equal sized wedges and steep in cold water for ten to fifteen minutes. Transfer to a pot with fresh cold water, season with a little salt and bring the water to a simmer for ten minutes.
Drain the parboiled wedges and allow them to steam off for five to ten minutes. Lay them in a single layer in the base of a suitable dish and refrigerate for a minimum half hour.
Put the ground lamb in to a mixing bowl. Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the bowl. Seed and finely dice the red chili before adding to the lamb along with the curry powder, the chopped cilantro and some salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients together, taking your time to ensure even dispersal of the various seasonings.
Flatten the lamb mixture to a patty around an inch thick between the palms of your hands and carefully work it in to the approximate shape and size of the naan breads. Leave to sit and rest on a plate (covered) while you start the wedges cooking.
Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6. Pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in to a glass or stone bowl and season with the chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
Add the wedges to the bowl with the seasoned oil and carefully turn them around until they are evenly coated.
Arrange the wedges in a single layer on a roasting tray and cook in the oven for twenty-five to thirty minutes, turning half way through cooking.
When the wedges are in the oven, add some oil to a small frying pan and gently heat. Fry the burger patty for about twelve to fifteen minutes each side on a low to medium heat until done.
The peneer cheese will be a little bit crumbly but provided you use a sharp enough knife, you should be able to remove two or three fairly intact slices.
When the burger is ready, turn off the heat under the pan and move it to a cool part of your stove to let it rest for a couple of minutes. Remove the spicy wedges to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain off.
Heat the naan breads per the instructions on the packet. Lay one on your serving plate and the burger on top.
Spoon the spiced onions on to the top of the lamb burger.
Arrange the cheese slices on top of the spiced onions and scatter over some of the remaining cilantro.
Lay the second naan bread on top of the burger assembly, plate the chili wedges and garnish with the last of the cilantro for service.