Spicy Bean Tawa Burgers feature double bean masala and cheese inside a squishy sesame bun. Toast these achingly-good burgers in melted butter and paprika atop an iron tawa for Indian street food vibes. Use any beans you like!
Unlike any other veggie burger, this Indian style version has big flavours both on the inside and the outside. The final result is a toasty wonder. The best bit is that you don’t even have to form the burgers into patties; just stuff and sandwich between buns and cook on a hot tawa.
What is an Indian tawa?
An Indian tawa is, for want of a better description, a flat-top griddle. It can be made from iron, steel or aluminium. This style of cookware has multiple uses in Indian cookery, from cooking flatbreads and dosa, to street-style specialities like Pau Bhaji, tawa pulao (rice), curries and this variety of Tawa Burger.
I personally have both cast iron and steel tawas and use them interchangeably depending on the dish I’m cooking. I prefer cast iron for dosas and steel for pau bhaji, burgers and rice.
Alternatives for a tawa
If you don’t have a tawa, you can use a non-stick frying pan instead. The ultimate goal is to create a golden, crispy exterior and a frying pan will do a similar job. I use a steel tawa here since the contact between the smooth metal and bun is close, thus producing a fantastic result.
Where to buy an Indian tawa
There are so many factors when it comes to choosing an Indian tawa that’s appropriate for your style of cooking. Here are some options you might find useful.
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What kinds of beans are best for bean burgers?
I use a combination of black beans and borlotti beans in this veggie bean burger recipe. I like the bite of hearty black beans alongside the soft and creamy borlotti beans. This being said, you can use any beans you like or happen to have in the cupboard.
Pinto beans are a great substitute for borlotti beans, or you can use your favourite white beans like haricot beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, black eye beans or even chickpeas. The choice is yours. Either way, this recipe is a great source of plant-based protein.
How to make a vegan version of this veggie burger recipe
To make a vegan version of these vegetarian burgers, simply cook in oil instead of butter and replace the cheese with your favourite non-dairy cheese (or omit). Easy!
Are these Spicy Bean Tawa Burgers gluten free?
I’ve used regular wheat flour buns in the recipe below. If you’d like to make a gluten-free veggie burger, choose a gluten-free bun. The rest of the recipe is free from gluten.
Can I go bunless?
Absolutely. The beany masala binds together very well so if you’d like to skip the bread entirely, you can go ahead and form the mixture into patties. Cook them on the tawa in the same way for an ultra-flavoursome vegetarian burger patty without the carbs bread adds.
How to shape veggie burger patties
While this recipe doesn’t require you to shape the bean mixture into traditional patties, this is an option if you’d like to serve your bean burgers without the bun.
- Portion the mixture into 6 equal balls.
- Wet your hands with a small amount of water and gently squeeze the ball together so it’s nice and compact.
- Gently press the mixture between your palms to flatten.
- If the edges crack a little, gently press around the edges to stick the mixture back together.
- Place the formed burger patties on a tray lined with baking parchment to stop them sticking.
- Chill the veggie burgers in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
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Can I freeze homemade veggie burgers?
You can freeze formed veggie burger patties. Simply follow the steps above for shaping, freeze the patties on a lined tray and once frozen, stack with sheets of baking parchment between each burger. Wrap well in cling film and freeze in a freezer-safe container.
2 tips for veggie burgers without egg
The sole purpose of egg in veggie burgers is for binding. Add one or more of the following to a burger and you have excellent binding without the need for egg in the patty.
- Beans. These little pulses are already full of natural starch and fibre. All you need to do is roughly mash them up for a texture that holds together perfectly.
- Potatoes. A small amount of mashed potato, or even better, some dried mashed potato powder/flakes will give veggie burgers excellent binding. The bonus of this is that potatoes have little flavour so won’t dramatically alter the flavour of your veggie burgers.
Which spices go into this Spicy Bean Tawa Burgers recipe?
The dry spices in this veggie bean burger recipe include: cumin seeds, coriander seeds, smoked paprika, dried garlic powder, chilli flakes, turmeric and dried oregano.
This is a veggie burger…
- Without soy
- Without mushrooms
- Easy to make
- No meat substitutes
- Easily veganized
- Without nuts
- No eggs
How to make these vegetarian burgers on the BBQ
These are a great vegetarian barbecue option for everyone to enjoy! Simply place your tawa on the grill directly above hot coals. The smoke will rise from the sides, giving the meatless burgers an utterly delicious flavour.
What to serve with veggie burgers
These Indian tawa burgers are fantastic as they are, but also pair well with all the usual burger favourites: fries or crisps or wedges, salad, chutneys, etc. Here are some of my favourite dishes to serve with these Spicy Bean Tawa Burgers.
Other styles of Indian street food ‘burgers’
While strictly not traditional burgers, India has its’ fair share of burger-style dishes. Indeed, the typical street burger or sandwich features buns or sliced bread. Vada Pav (with spiced fried mashed potato balls), Samosa Pav, Kanda Bhaji Pav (with onion bhaji) and Masala Omelette.
Burger buns, known in India as ‘Ladi Pav’ form the basis of many non-burger or sandwich dishes. Popular examples of these include: Pav Bhaji, Keema Pav, Misal Pav and Usal.
The history of Pav in India
Historically, India’s native version of bread referred to flatbreads: roti, paratha, rotla, etc. With the arrival of Portuguese settlers in Goa came not only trade, but yeast. Soft Portuguese bread rolls, called ‘Pao’ were thus introduced to the Indian subcontinent. People embraced the delicious fluffiness of Pao and learnt the art of cooking with yeast. New dishes developed from this and over time, they became known locally as ‘Pav’, ‘Laadi Pav’ or ‘Pau’.
The British colonial rule in Hindustan (pre-partition) later brought the concept of bread loaves and sliced bread. Therefore, recipes using yeasted loaves and bread slices were also woven into the fabric of modern-day Indian cookery.
Spicy Bean Tawa Burgers recipe
- Tawa (iron or steel preferable or use a non-stick frying pan)
- 200 g cooked borlotti beans pinto beans also work well
- 200 g cooked black beans
- 150 g sweetcorn
- 1 carrot grated
- 1 small onion finely diced (about 2 tbsp)
- 1/2 pepper (capsicum) finely diced (about 2 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp butter or oil
- 1 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeños
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp mashed potato powder or 1 small cooked potato mashed
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
To build the burgers:
- 6 slices mozzarella cheese or Cheddar/vegan alternative
- 6 burger buns
To finish on the tawa:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tsp chilli powder or paprika
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- Small pinch chaat masala per burger
To make the filling:
- Heat butter or oil in a large, non-stick pan. Add the onions and peppers. Sauté for a minute and then add the carrots. Sauté for another minute before adding the chopped jalapenos and tomato purée. Mix well and cook out for 90 seconds.
- Next, add the following dry ingredients in quick succession: Dried garlic powder, ground cumin and coriander seeds, turmeric, smoked paprika, chilli flakes and dried oregano. Add a splash of water, no more than 75ml to ensure the spices can cook out without burning. Stir and cook for a further 90 seconds.
- Add the sweetcorn, beans and salt. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash the mixture up with a potato masher. The beans should be a mixture of fully mashed, partially mashed and whole for delicious texture and a mixture that binds well. Finally, sprinkle over the mashed potato powder (or add your mashed potato). Stir well and set aside.
To build the burgers:
- Split the burger buns in half lengthways and fill with a generous amount of the bean mixture. I find an ice cream scoop makes light work of this. Place your slice of cheese on top of the bean mixture and pop the burger lid on. Press lightly.
To tawa-cook the burgers:
- Add the butter and oil to a pre-heated tawa. Sprinkle in the paprika or chilli powder if you like things spicier, and the chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Take a burger and dip all sides in the butter masala, and then the top and bottom. Lightly press the burger with a turner or spatula. Cook until it's perfectly toasted all over.
- Finally, sprinkle with a small pinch of chaat masala and serve with salad and chips/crisps.
- The bean burger filling can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge (covered) until needed. It will keep for 3 days.
- For hot and sour flavours, try spreading 1 tsp Tamarind Chutney on the inside of the bread.
- To make a vegan version of these burgers, simply cook in oil instead of butter and replace the cheese with your favourite non-dairy cheese (or omit).
- Do not freeze the cooked and assembled burgers. You can freeze the filling in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
- If you don’t have a tawa, use a non-stick frying pan.
- If you don’t like smoky flavours, you can replace the smoked paprika with regular paprika or chilli powder.
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If you like this, you’ll love my recipe for Sri Lankan-Style Potato Wedges