Mumbai-Style Chicken Burger

As far as I am concerned, Mumbai - a melting pot of cultures, religions and cooking - is the food capital of India, especially street food. Of course, 'burger' is not the word locals use for this snack; kavaab, kebab, cutlet or pattie are all more likely.


Makes: 4 medium-sized or 8 small burgers

For the Burgers

  • 500 grams chicken leg meat
  • 4 - 5 cloves garlic (coarsely chopped)
  • 10 - 15 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 30 - 40 leaves fresh mint with stems
  • 5 centimetres piece of fresh ginger (peeled and coarsely chopped)
  • 2 finger-type fresh green chillies
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3 slices white bread (crusts removed)
  • extra-virgin rapeseed oil for griddling (optional)
  • salt

For the Garam Masala

  • 6 - 8 green cardamom pods (crushed, and seeds extracted for use)
  • 2 x 7.5cm cinnamon sticks
  • 5 - 6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

To Serve

  • 4 - 8 split and toasted soft white burger buns
  • tomatoes (sliced)
  • red onions (sliced)
  • chutney


  1. First make the garam masala. Preheat the oven to 130C/260F/gas mark 3/4. Place all the spices on a baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes. After this time, turn off the oven, leaving the tray inside for another 20 minutes. Remove the spices from the oven and allow to cool.

  2. Transfer the spice mixture to a grinder or mortar and whiz or pound to a fine powder. If using a grinder and it gets too hot, the powder will stick to the edges of the bowl, so every now and again loosen the coarse pieces of spice from the sides, then grind some more. Transfer the powder to a sterilized small airtight jar and store in the refrigerator.

  3. Remove all the sinew and gristle from the chicken, but keep the fat attached. Cut into small pieces. Fit a mincer with a medium cutting plate and push the chicken, garlic, fresh herbs and chillies through it and into a bowl.

  4. Add all the ground spices and the lime juice and knead well.

  5. Soak the bread in water, then squeeze into a ball as dry as you can make it. Knead it thoroughly into the mince. Fry a small amount of the mixture to check the seasoning, then season the raw mixture with salt as necessary. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until nice and firm.

  6. Light a barbecue or heat an oiled griddle pan until very hot.

  7. Meanwhile, shape the chicken mixture into equal-sized patties of your chosen size. Cook them on one side for about 3-4 minutes, until well coloured, then turn and cook the other side for about 3-4 minutes. Take care not to overcook them - when done, they should feel spongy and be slightly juicy inside.

  8. Serve in toasted buns with sliced tomatoes, sliced red onions and chutney.