Try this Indian-inspired lentil curry burger recipe the next time you need a flavorful meat alternative.
It’s almost summer time, which means cookouts and burgers! Unfortunately, that means a lot of us are eating more beef, which means more carbon emissions.
To curb out carbon footprints this summer, I made an easy, affordable burger that is both vegan and delicious. I haven’t tried it on a grill yet – but I encourage you to test it out and tell me how it goes.
What’s in the vegan curry burger?
- red (masoor) or yellow (channa) split lentils
- yellow onion
- green peas, fresh or frozen
- curry powder
- salt & pepper
- olive oil
I love this Indian-inspired burger because it doesn’t require too many spices. If you’re interested in trying to add more Indian food into your diet, this is a great recipe to start with. It’s more American than Indian, but it’s a gentle introduction to two essential flavors: yellow curry and cumin.
These ingredients are also cheap. 2 cups cooked lentils = $0.59; 1 cup cooked quinoa = $0.65; 1/2 yellow onion = $0.25; 2/3 cup frozen peas = $0.50; 3 cloves garlic = $0.10; 2 T. olive oil = $0.20; salt & pepper; approximately $0.10; 1 T. curry powder = $1.69; and 2 t. ground cumin = $0.90.
That totals to 8 burgers = $4.98, which means each burger costs less than $1 to make (buns excluded).
You can substitute these for brown lentils, but not green lentils. Green lentils hold their shape after cooking, which makes them more difficult to pulse to a paste-like texture, which is what we do for these burgers. Red lentil varieties tend to mush during cooking, which is great for dal. I prefer the nutty flavor of red or yellow lentils for these burgers rather than the earthy taste of brown lentils.
If you already love Indian flavors and have copious amounts in your cabinets, go ahead and add more spices. Try 1 tsp. cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for heat. Add 2-3 tsp. garam masala for a more authentic Indian flavor, or go for barbeque sauce if want something that gives you more summertime-grill-feels. (I’ve tried it with chipotle barbeque sauce, and Wow!)
Tips to get the burger just right
Here’s what I don’t recommend: substituting the quinoa for rice. I’ve tried this, and it never works out well.
The key to making the burgers is this: the mixture MUST BE STICKY when you put it in the fridge. I know this is gross for some of us, but you want the patties to resemble ground beef in how moist and sticky they are. See the image above to gauge how sticky the patties should be after they come out of the fridge
Rice will soak up the moisture, so don’t use it as a replacement. If you don’t have quinoa for your vegan curry burgers, try 1/2 cup or less of breadcrumbs or oats.
Also, I recommend letting the burgers get dark brown on each side. In the image above (the 2nd picture), you can see the curry burgers have a slight brown tinge to them. The third image (right before the recipe) has a nice brown color to it, which makes the edges crispier and helps the burger keep its shape.
Jazz-up your vegan burgers with toppings!
I included in this recipe an easy, light topping: purple cabbage slaw. This pairs really well with the burger and can be eaten as a topping or as a side. Personally, I like it on the curry burger.
Here are some other topping ideas you should consider:
- lettuce & tomato (because it’s summer)
- barbeque sauce
- hot sauce (a tangy chili version, not siracha)
- spicy tomato sauce
- grilled mushrooms
Whichever you go with, make it yours! I hope thes easy and affordable vegan curry burgers find their place at your table this summer.
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This meatless vegan burger is savory and flavorful, with colorful green peans and yellow curry. Enjoy this on a regular bun or in a pita, served with gucamole and purple cabbage slaw.
For the burger:
- 2 cups cooked lentils
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 2/3 cup frozen or fresh peas
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. curry powder
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
For the purple slaw:
- 1/2 red cabbage
- 5 radishes
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Rinse the quinoa and lentils separately and pat the lentils dry with a towel. Cook 1/2 cup quinoa and just over 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until all the quinoa has absorbed all the water, turn the heat off, and poke holes in the quinoa to release steam, approximately 15 minutes. Do the same for 1 cup uncooked lentils with 2 cups water.
- Pulse the lentils in the food processor with 1 Tbsp. olive oil until there’s a combination of paste and chopped lentils. Add the onion, garlic, curry powder, black pepper, cumin, and salt and pulse until well combined.
- In a large bowl, stir together the lentil mixutre, cooked quinoa, and peas. Cover and place in the fridge for 30 mintes. Remove from the fridge and form eight even-sized patties from the mixture. Stack the patties on a plate, placing parchment or wax paper between them, cover, and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
- While the patties are in the fridge, thinly slice the red cabbage. Aim for 1/8 in. thick pieces as long as your pinky finger. Thinly slice the radishes, and combine both veggies in a large bowl with the vinear, cilantro, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Store the slaw in the fridge until ready to serve and up to 6 days.
- To cook the patties, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 3-4 burgers at a time (depending on the size of your pan), letting each side cook until dark brown, approximately 4-6 min. each side. You may need to add a little more olive oil between batches if none remain after removing the cooked burgers. Serve with the slaw, guacamole, lemon juice, and your choice of bun or pita.
- Serving Size: 1 burger + 1/2 cup slaw
- Calories: 178
- Sugar: 2.4
- Sodium: 121
- Fat: 10.4
- Saturated Fat: 3.1
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 18
- Fiber: 3.4
- Protein: 10
- Cholesterol: 191