Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Street Meat for the Rest of Us

There's a popular food truck in my neighborhood called Rafiqi's. It sells gyros and meat-and-rice combo platters that smell very good and have a come-hither sizzle, though I'm too skeeved out by the street meat stigma to actually buy it for lunch. But many of my friends are big Rafiqi fans. I should note they're all men and none of them is particularly health-conscious.

I think I may have come upon a healthy version of Rafiqi's: Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers. The recipe, from the Everyday Food cookbook, combines dried spices (paprika, cumin, cardamom and cayenne) with fresh seasonings (ginger, lemon, scallion, cilantro), resulting in a snappy dish that is deeply and richly flavored, and not heavy at all. It's healthy, too: you grill boneless, skinless chicken thighs that you've ground up in the food processor along with the spices, using just a little bit of oil on the grill. Once the mini-burgers are cooked, you stuff them into a whole-wheat pita, slide in some cucumber slices, and top it with cilantro sprigs and a dollop of creamy cumin yogurt sauce.

I know I can't knock it 'till I've tried it, but I'll still take Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers over Rafiqi's any day.--S

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

1 1/2 lbs (4 to 5) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into rough chunks
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 T chopped fresh ginger (from a peeled 2-inch piece)
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 T paprika
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t ground cardamom
1/4 t cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Vegetable oil, for grates
4 (6-inch) whole-wheat pitas
1 cucumber (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 c fresh cilantro sprigs
Cumin Yogurt Sauce: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 c plain low-fat yogurt with 1/2 t ground cumin; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

1. Heat grill to medium-high. In a medium bowl, place chicken, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, 1 1/2 t coarse salt, and 1/2 t pepper; toss to combine. Set aside to marinate, at least 10 and up to 30 minutes.
2. Transfer chicken mixture to a food processor; pulse until roughly chopped, but not pasty, 10 to 12 times. Gently form mixture into sixteen 3/4-inch-thick patties (about 3 T each).
3. Moisten a folded paper towel with oil; grasp with tongs and rub over grates. Season patties with salt and pepper; grill until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Halve pitas crosswise (toast on grill, if you like). Into each pocket, place 2 chicken patties, cucumber slices, and cilantro sprigs. Serve with Cumin Yogurt Sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

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