Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tikka Turkey Burgers w/ Raita "Mayo"

Every cook has their Kitchen Wish List. A mix of the practical and the posh, my list of "I wish I had..." changes daily depending on that evening's menu, and of course, that night's mood. For instance, yesterday morning I woke up wishing I had a tandoor in my kitchen. But by the end of the evening when I was once again faced with a splattered cook top, a cluttered counter and yet another pan that required "special care" to clean, my priorities were focused elsewhere. All I really wanted at that moment was a kitchen clad in Corian, from top to bottom, a spigot on the wall where I could attach a hose, and a drain in the floor so I could power-wash the whole thing down. 

But, getting back to that tandoor. Years ago when I was fortunate enough to be traveling to London somewhat routinely, I would have at least one meal, every trip, at the excellent Red Fort. The gracious staff tagged us as regulars - well, as regular as trans-Atlantic customers could be - and on one unbelievable night we were asked to sample new dishes that hadn't been placed on the menu yet. And if that weren't honor enough, we were given a tour of the kitchen. I could write an entire post just on that alone, but for now I'll just say it was the tandoor and its aroma that left me smitten. After seeing and smelling - and tasting - this oven's output, how could I ever attempt to approximate tandoori at home again? Any cook who's gone to epic lengths to recreate a meal will understand how, for one brief moment, I'd convinced myself that I could indeed install a tandoor in my own kitchen and arrange to have regular home delivery of fresh shipments of clay from India to reline the oven's walls.  

Well, for obvious reasons, I never got that tandoor. I haven't stopped, however, trying to find ways to recapture that flavor to the best of my, and my kitchen's, ability. And yesterday was one of those days when I woke up craving Naan and tandoori chicken. But I'd already decided I was going to make turkey burgers, having been inspired by a recipe posted by bellalimento for Asian-flavored turkey burgers that I'd read earlier this week. I figured since ground turkey was such a great conduit for flavor, that I might be able to dress it up with some Indian influences. I opted to take a tikka tack. 

The result follows. I started with a recipe for a Tikka Citrus Chicken dish from my beloved "1,000 Indian Recipes," split it in two and then changed some of the spices. I dismantled a traditional raita, as well, then took its key ingredients and fused them with some of the ingredients from the tikka marinade. I used the dry ingredients from the tikka's marinade in the burger mix, and used the liquid in the preparation of the raita. 

I prepared the turkey burgers in my cast iron skillet and served them tucked inside of store-bought whole wheat pitas. (I was really hoping, though, to have them with Naan.) I topped the burgers with salt-and-pepper turnip chips that I quickly oven-fried, with some of the riata dabbed on top. 

The pic doesn't do them justice, but for being captured by the camera in my phone, I don't think it's all that bad. It was the flavor I was going for, and this meal definitely delivered.

Tikka Turkey Burgers w/ Raita "Mayo" and Turnip Chips
For the burgers...
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
5 spring onions, chopped
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt 

For the Raita "Mayo"
3 TBS fresh lime juice
2 TBS frozen orange juice, not reconstituted 
1 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt, plus another 1/4 cup greek yogurt 
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into coins
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

1. Thoroughly mix all dry ingredients together first in a small bowl so that spices will be evenly distributed through burgers. Add to ground turkey, along with spring onions. Mix well. Form into patties and set aside. (You should get about six burgers out of this amount.)

2. First combine frozen orange juice, fresh lime juice and olive oil together. Stir well. Whisk in 1/4 cup yogurt. Set aside. (Any unused portion can be used as a salad dressing or marinade base for chicken.) 

3. In a food processor, blend the sour cream, cucumber and cilantro. Stop occasionally and scrape sides. When pureed, add 1/2 cup of citrus and yogurt mix. Mix well. Add remaining 1/4 yogurt. Blend. Check consistency. It should be closer to a thick dressing than actual mayonnaise. At this point you can continue to add more of the citrus mixture, sour cream, and yogurt in 1/4 cup increments until flavor and texture suit your tastes. 

4. Heat cast iron skillet. Add burgers and cook, flipping every five minutes until done, depending on the size of the burger and the intensity of the heat on your stove top. I cooked mine for a total of 22 minutes. 

Serve burgers on whole wheat pitas with raita "mayo." I topped mine with turnip chips. I pre-heated the oven to 425, then peeled and sliced the turnips into 1/8 inch thick rounds. I tossed the slices with some olive oil and kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. I baked them until they started to get crispy, about 18 minutes, turning them over after the first ten minutes. 


Ann said...

Raita is my Fav! I haven't had them in a year I suppose :(
What is the big deal about the Greek Yogurt or turkish yogurt ..?
I recently read many recipes using them.

Steven said...

I like the Greek and Turkish yogurts for different recipes. They are, in my opinion, richer than a lot of yogurts that are made here in the states. They have a fuller, creamier texture. As for the difference, I would ask the people over at - and I bet someone will answer you shortly. It's a great resource if you haven't tried it yet.