But there comes a time in everyone's life when you cannot control the urge for a meaty, succulent, spicy burger. So I braced myself and went ahead to try this recipe that does not use any eggs, bread or flour! The secret, the recipe claims, lays with the baking soda and yoghurt. I was not going to question the masters.
It is a traditional recipe that comes from the north-east part of Greece, a place well-known for the quality of their beef and cheese products. The mixture of fresh minced beef, onions and oregano has to stay overnight in the fridge together with the yoghurt and the baking soda so that it becomes nice and fluffy. In this way, it is also marinated and infused with the flavours and aromas of the rest of the ingredients leading to a seriously flavourful burger!
As for the Carrot and Cardamom Rice, what can I say...it is dangerously delicious and aromatic. I have to admit that, at first glance, cardamom and oregano don't really match (I am going through a major oregano phase at the moment). But I took my chances and prepared the cardamom rice as a side dish to the burgers. And in a mysterious way it worked! They really complemented each other!
And since I was going for strong aromas, both with the meat and with the rice, I chose an aromatic, medium bodied, fruity and not very tannic Plavac from the Croatian island of Hvar.
Bread-less, Egg-less Burgers
Recipe by Niki Chrisanthidou
500 gr (1 pound) ground beef
2 yellow onion, minced
3 tablespoon yoghurt (those with lactose intolerance can use goat milk yoghurt)
1 small bunch of parsley - just the leaves - chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Mix the ground meat, onions, yoghurt, parsley, oregano, paprika and baking soda in a large glass bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Knead thoroughly until all the ingredients are very well combined. Cover with kitchen wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to grill/broil them, take the bowl out of the fridge and shape the mixture into medium size burgers. Pre-heat the grill/broiler, put the burgers in a pan and coat them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (in total). Grill/broil for 12 - 13 minutes, turning once. DO NOT overdo it because they will became dry and not very nice really!!
Carrot & Cardamom Rice
Adapted from "The Food Doctor Ultimate Diet" by Ian Marber
100 gr (3.5 oz) brown rice
2 garlic cloves
500 ml (17 fl.oz) vegetable stock
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 yellow onion roughly chopped
1 large carrot grated
Grated rind of one orange
Salt & pepper
Boil the rice with the stock, the garlic cloves and the cinnamon stick until just tender (about 25 - 30 minutes). Remove the cinnamon stick and mush in the garlic cloves. Season and set aside.
In a non-stick pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil until it softens. Add the cardamom powder, the grated carrot and the orange rind. Cook for about 5 minutes until the carrot begins to soften.
Stir in the cooked rice and enjoy!