Chickpea burgers

April 20, 2008 at 7:12 pm (Beans, C (2 stars, okay, edible), Isa C. Moskowitz, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan)

My friend Katrina picked this recipe for chickpea burgers for our first food club challenge. It’s a recipe from Veganomicon that’s been all the range on the vegan blogosphere.  Below I’ve posted my comments, as well as those of the other members of our newly started cooking club.

My comments:

I made these chickpea burgers when visiting Derek in Germany.  As soon as I took my first bite I thought “these are seitan burgers, not really veggie burgers.” They had the distinctive chewy, stringy texture of undercooked seitan. I didn’t find it altogether unpleasant, but neither did it excite me. I thought the patties had little flavor: I couldn’t taste the sage or other dried herbs at all. I cooked the first four with 1 Tbs. of oil in a large skillet, and Derek and I thought that the crispiest patties were the best, so the second batch of 4 I cooked with 2 Tbs. of oil. They turned out oilier, but not any better, I thought. I could see how someone who really likes greasy food would like these patties cooked with a lot of oil though. I only used 3/4 of the soy sauce as I was worried they’d be too salty. With 3/4 they were fine.

I like that the recipe is novel: I’ve never seen a veggie burger recipe that calls for gluten flour before. However, I would have preferred more chickpea flavor and less seitan texture, so if I make these again, I think I will try replacing half of the gluten flour with besan (chickpea flour). I may also try adding different seasonings to make them Indian tasting, or perhaps Mexican spices.

I don’t think these would work very well on a hamburger bun with all the fixings, because they are a bit dry and quite starchy, and bland. I think they would be better served as Heidi Swanson suggests serving veggie burgers: use the burger as the bun, slice each one in half and fill it with tomato and lettuce and whatever other toppings you like to add to your veggie burgers. Or just serve them as I did: with a creamy, spicy sauce.

My rating: B-

Derek’s response:

The first time I made them Derek commented that they tasted like cheap veggie burgers, kind of like boca burgers. He said the texture was soft and cardboardy. When I objected that cardboard is the opposite of soft, he said “like wet cardboard.” Then he asked for a second one, and he ate half of one of mine as well. He claims that he ate so many of them because they were a good carrier for the sauce I made, which was yogurt mixed with amarillo pepper sauce and lemon juice. “Aaaah, lemon juice,” he says. I had doubled the recipe and stored half of the dough in the fridge for two days. When I made the second batch, Derek said they had gotten chewier and stretchy, but the flavor was still fairly bland. He gives the recipe a C+.

Katrina’s comments, as transcribed by me (Katrina broke her thumb so I offered my typing services. This is only approximate however–Katrina was much more eloquent in real life.)

I made the mistake of grinding the chickpeas too finely–I wished there were bigger pieces of chickpeas. I would almost consider using more chickpeas and grinding some up and leaving some in chunks. I also liked Rose’s idea of using some chickpea flour. I thought they had an interesting texture and the idea was really nice, to have a bean burger that holds together and isn’t just beans and rice. But the taste wasn’t that exciting. I felt like they needed some more seasoning of some sort. You could probably go any way with it, Indian spices, Mexican spices–you just have to do something. I think it would be good with parsley or cilantro or something. I’ve seen online you could use it sort of like a parmigiana topped with a tomato sauce, and it would probably work pretty well with that as it has kind of a bready texture. You could probably even include some vegetables in it if you wanted. I don’t know if it was the high gluten content or what, but they just felt like a rock in my stomach. It was just a really dense food, which was kind of weird. I would certainly make something along these lines again, something with beans and gluten and seasoning made into some kind of pan-fried burgers, but I wouldn’t follow the recipe. I’d like to try it with a different type of bean as well.

Katrina said she used all the soy sauce but low sodium, and the salt level was fine.

Susan’s comments:

I doubled the recipe and made them into round burger shapes instead of cutlets which made 9 instead of 6. It is necessary to cook them on medium or they will burn. I used 1 tsp of oil per 3 to fry them in.

I thought the texture was good and they held together very well. There was too much sage taste for me and I think I would use something else next time.

Hanaleah said they were okay when she took a bite, but then came back and finished the whole piece.
I made them for a potluck. They all got eaten. This is a good thing, no? They liked the texture but not much taste. They needed a bun, tomatos, mayo, onions, etc everyone said. And when I ate mine 3 hours after I made them, you couldn’t tell that they had sage. It disappearred? At our potluck there was a red pepper salsa that was delicious and when eaten with the burgers helped immensel

Kathy’s comments

Chickpea Success!!! 🙂

A few of us here in Geneva attempted the Chickpea Patty recipe with a bunch of modifications, and it was a definite success. I’ve cc’d the co-creators/tasters and my chickpea consultant, spoons.

First: what will we do with the cutlets? I was talking to Spoons about this on the phone, and he was confused about why we were making chickpea patties in the first place — why not just make chickpeas, themselves, with good seasonings? Then we decided that one of the only reasons we could think of to make chickpea patties instead of chickpeas was that chickpeas would probably fall through a barbecue grill. So, I decided to go towards real chickpea burgers — the kind of thing that you could bring to a BBQ and toss on the grill.

So, how did we change the original recipe?

We made a double batch, which turned into 8 burgers.

We replaced half of the gluten with chickpea flour, and made sure to knead it lightly. We kneaded about one minute after it came together, not too vigorously. Toyoko, who had made this same recipe in Geneva before, blamed her patties’ too-dense texture on gluten + too much kneading.

We left half the chickpeas whole, or barely crushed, to add some more chunks. I wouldn’t do it that way again, since the burgers sometimes had fault-lines develop near the chickpeas, and I would be afraid the patties might break up. I might chop the unground half of the chickpeas about as finely as we chopped the garlic (not *that* finely).

We left out:
# 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
# 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
# 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

but put in a bunch of paprika and some soy sauce, and a drop of lemon oil (which like zest, but what I use when I forgot to buy a lemon). For vegetable broth, we used Veggie “Better than Bouillon” which has a very savory flavor.

Then, we cooked the burgers in a really hot cast iron skillet with some oil.

You can see the result!

There is a patty on the left, so you can see how it looks, and then another inside the bun. We topped the burgers with carmelized onions, and usual burger stuff like lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, ketchup. Next time I might put the carmelized onions INSIDE the burgers.

The other things on the plate are chickpea fries (delicious!) and a yogurt-cucumber salad that went really well with the chickpeas. We had dates, pitted with almond butter inside, for dessert, and those were excellent too. 🙂

With these modifcations, the taste and texture of the chickpea burger were both great. The taste was mostly hummus-like (chickpeas and garlic and paprika!) and the texture wasn’t at all boca-burger or seitan-ish. It held together pretty well.

I had some leftovers the next day, warmed up in a pan with some veggies and sausage, and it was OK but certainly more bread-like as it was reheated with steamy veggies. I think the hot searing of a skillet/broiler/grill helps the patties seem more protein-y and less bread-y.

So, your suggestions worked out well! I would definitely make this again, especially as a summer-time BBQ food.


  1. austingardener said,

    The chickpea fries look delicious. Can you share the recipe for these?

  2. Seth said,

    Hi everyone, Kathy’s friend Seth here. The chickpea fries recipe was taken from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman:

    Neutral oil for frying
    1 cup sifted chickpea flour
    2 tbsp olive oil
    Salt & pepper

    1) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour, with a large pinch of salt and pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming (this is also why you want to sift the flour first). Reduce heat so that the mixture bubbles gently, stir in the olive oil, and cook for just a minute.

    2) Scoop the mixture onto a greased baking sheet or pizza pan (something with a rim), and spread into an even layer no more than 1/2 inch thick. Thinner fries will cook faster, and will be crispier. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but you can leave it in the fridge for up to a day if you cover it tightly after it’s cooled).

    3) Put enough oil to come to a depth of at least 1/8 inch (1/4 inch is better) in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the set chickpea mixture into shoestring fries, triangles, rounds, whatever you want. Gently put batches of fries in the hot oil, turning once or twice so they cook evenly, cooking until browned and crispy, something like 6-10 minutes.

    4) Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt, pepper, or whatever else you want!

  3. austingardener said,

    thanks. The picture looked so lovely I will give them a try. In my husband’s mind all good food is fried.

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