Spiced brinjal burger from 'Sprigs Entertain'

Sprigs book 001

Durban duo Clare and Fiona Ras have brought out a refreshing new cookbook called ‘Sprigs Entertain’, which has some wonderful dishes worth trying – our first choice was the spiced brinjal and chickpea burger of which the recipe (and The Global Table verdict!) follows below. The two, who teach cooking classes and run their own restaurant, really do know their stuff – the recipes are innovative but very do-able and the pictures will have you itching to try them out straight away – even if it you can’t always figure out which picture goes with which dish! ‘Sprigs Entertain’ is published by Jacana and sells for R280.

Brinjal Burger 001

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Spiced Brinjal Burger – The Recipe

Unlike most cookbooks, ‘Sprigs Entertain’ is divided into ‘Morning’, ‘Noon’ and ‘Night’ sections. Each of these in turn has between three and six food themes, for instance the Spiced Brinjal Burger recipe is in the ‘Noon’ section under the ‘Jersey Cookout’ theme. If it all gets a little confusing just hit the index at the back.

Makes 4 burgers

Ingredients for the burger

2 brinjals; 30ml chilli oil; 1 garlic clove; zest and juice of half a lemon; 400g tin chickpeas; half a bunch spring onions; 5ml cumin seeds; 2ml dried crushed chilli; 2 sprigs mint leaves; 10g coriander (leaves); 75g fresh breadcrumbs; salt and black pepper; cake flour.

Ingredients to serve

4 Portuguese rolls; 1 gem lettuce; tomato relish; 12 cherry tomatoes

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Chop the brinjals and place on a baking tray, sason with salt and pepper, drizzle with chilli oil and crushed garlic and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until soft.

Tip the cooked brinjals into a mixing bowl, add the zest and juice of the lemon, and the drained chickpeas. Roughly mash together. Stir in the chopped spring onion, roughly ground cumin seeds; dried crushed chilli, chopped mint, chopped coriander, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

Form the mixture into four burger patties, dust with flour and place in the fridge to firm up. Grill the burgers over coals or in a hot grill pan for 5 to 10 minutes on each side. Brush the halved Portuguese rolls with olive oil and toast on the cut side.

Assemble each burger with gem lettuce, spiced brinjal burger, sliced cherry tomatoes and home-made tomato relish (the recipe appears elsewhere in ‘Sprigs Entertain’). Clare and Fiona also serve these burgers with paprika-spiced wedges, garlic alioli and sweet and sour coleslaw.

The Global Table Verdict

I have to admit these burgers came out a million times better than what I thought they would. For starters, I had my doubts as to whether the mix would even stick together, but they held up beautifully and tasted incredible. I kept some of the uncooked patties (well dusted in flour) in the fridge and fried them for lunch the next day, and this worked perfectly too. In fact they were so delicious I am already craving another burger and will have to rustle up another batch! This is perfect weekend food and every bit as easy to make as a regular beef or lamb patty. It’s also a great option for when you have vegetarian guests.

I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter except that I didn’t have chilli oil and therefore just used regular olive oil; I did however slightly up the amount of crushed dried chilli to compensate. Also, my coriander was a bit wilted and so I used a tablespoon or less of Ina Paarman’s new coriander pesto instead, which really did the trick. Because I was worried the burgers would disintegrate in my grill pan (a groundless fear, I now expect) I shallow fried them in hot vegetable oil in a non-stick pan for a few minutes, turning them half-way through so both sides were evenly cooked and golden. You’ll need to drain them on kitchen paper for a bit afterwards.

It’s not stated what size the brinjals must be but I used two medium ones. The recipe then yielded six patties rather than the four stated in the book – bonus! I didn’t bother to make the tomato relish and side dishes suggested in the book, but will certainly give the relish a bash next time. – Louise Liebenberg

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