There exists this magical place in the City of Chicago that is an old authority on all tasty things vegan and vegetarian. A land of mouth watering vegan shakes, buffalo “wings,” seitan steaks, and the best vegan rueben I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. This place is called The Chicago Diner. You might have heard of it. Maybe not. Either way, it’s good and if you’re ever in the windy city you should check it out.
There’s this burger on the menu that is my younger sister Sindha’s favorite burger called the Buddha’s Karma burger. Last time I was at The Chicago Diner I wanted to order the Karma burger to rub it in my poor studying-abroad-in-Paris sister’s face but to my horror, they had taken it off the menu! What to do?! Well I ordered a vegan Dagwood sandwich instead and it was pretty darn good so that was alright.
I probably could have lived without the Karma Burger in my life. Yes it would have been a sadder existence, but it wasn’t necessarily my go-to menu item (mainly because I make a point of ordering different things every time as much as possible!). Sindha on the other hand, could not have carried on life as usual without this burger making a regular appearance in her life. So I did what any perfect sister would do, and I tried to bring the burger home!
I knew it was a sweet potato curry burger with a tofu and brown rice base which I was pretty sure I could make a decent ode to. One of the key things about this burger that made it such a great item to order was the “karmic realignment sauce” aka a pineapple mango coconut sauce. It was the perfect pairing. Do I need to explain why? Maybe. But I shouldn’t have to. It just made for the ideal balance of spices and flavors, sweet, tangy, nutty. You know. So, I didn’t make it a sauce to pair with but instead a roasted pineapple and mango salsa. It’s also pretty darn good. I suppose if you wanted it to be a sauce you could just take an immersion blender or food processor and puree it at the end. That’d work.
So Sindha, this one’s for you girl.
Sweet Potato Curry Burgers
1 cup cooked brown rice (1/2 cup dry cooked using package instructions)
1 large sweet potato, ~1 lb, peeled and cut into 1″ dice
1 tsp oil
1 small onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb extra-firm tofu
1/2 cup besan (chickpea) flour
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer, or potato starch
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Cook the brown rice according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, roast the diced sweet potato in a 375 ºF oven until soft when pierced with a fork, about 20-30 minutes. Mash the cooked potatoes with a fork or using a food processor until relatively smooth (there will be some skin formed during baking that’s fine).
3. In a small skillet, saute the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and saute an additional couple of minutes.
4. In a large bowl combine the cooked rice, mashed sweet potatoes, and the cooked onions and garlic. Drain the tofu, squeezing it gently over the sink to release some of the extra moisture. Crumble the tofu into the mixture by squishing it through your fingers. Add all other ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon (or your hands if you’d like) until it comes together and is evenly mixed. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. This is the hard part, where you have to try not to eat too much of the mix before you make your patties!
5. Baking Instructions: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and bake patties at 350 ºF for 20 minutes, then flip and bake an additional 10 minutes. This will make a firmer patty. These can also subsequently be grilled or heated on a skillet.
Stovetop instructions: Heat up a skillet on medium heat. Cook the patty for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until it is nicely browned. The patties hold together nicely but remain relatively soft. If you are adding cheese (I had cheddar Daiya on mine, highly recommend that) add it after flipping and cover the pan for a few minutes to help the cheese can melt.
6. To serve, place in a toasted bun stuffed with pineapple mango salsa (recipe below!), freshly sliced avocado, and whatever else pleases you.
Roasted Pineapple Mango Salsa
1 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, small dice
1 jalapeño, minced, seeds removed if you don’t like heat
2 mangoes, small dice (about 2 cups)
2 cups pineapple, small dice
1. Saute onions in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the jalapeños and saute an additional couple of minutes.
2. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the diced mango and pineapple. Saute for a few minutes until they start to roast and get a few grill marks.
Optional: blend salsa smooth for a different texture (immersion blender works well here)
Set aside and use to top burgers, eat with chips or by the spoonful (I won’t judge).