Burger with onions, lettuce, tomato

Upgrade Your Burger with Garam Masala

There’s no reason to eat boring burgers. With so many ways to elevate recipes by loading on zesty condiments and colorful toppings, a tasty burger is easy enough to craft. But, if you’re looking for a more creative way to add depth, you might want to think about spicing homemade patties with garam masala. A hint of this spice mixture transforms patties into something uniquely flavorful, and it will make uninspired burgers a thing of the past.

Garam masala is essentially an aromatic mix of spices like cinnamon, clove, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and peppercorn. Despite that recipes (and corresponding degrees of heat) can vary depending on the region in which it’s made, the spice is generally known for imparting warmth along with delicate notes of earth, smoke, spice, and even citrus. It’s precisely this deeply nuanced profile that makes the blend such a great addition in one-dimensional burger recipes. Playing off the burgers’ savory, umami qualities, garam masala gives the patties layers of richly varied complexity.

While any basic beef burger can be improved with the addition of garam masala, it works especially well with proteins in need of a flavor boost, like turkey, which tends to be quite mild (read: bland) tasting. However, that isn’t to say that garam masala can’t fare just as stunningly when used to craft a lamb, bean, or even potato-based patty. With so many potential pairings, the spice is up for experimentation in all sorts of burger recipes.

How to spice up lackluster burgers with garam masala

Bowl of garam masala powder

Not all garam masala is made equal. It’s for this reason that we recommend ditching store-bought spice blends and making garam masala from scratch. Although a ready-made jar may offer convenience, garam masala is pretty straightforward to create. Plus, nothing compares to a homemade blend as you can control quality, ensuring the freshest and most fragrant result, which makes all the difference when worked into the mince.

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There’s no definitive answer for how much spice to use in your burger recipe. Based on preference, you can add as little or as much as you’d like. But, if you’re new to using the seasoning, it’s best to start off with a modest teaspoon. Simply sprinkle the powder directly into the patty mixture to guarantee a better diffusion of spices prior to shaping and grilling. If you want even more garam masala goodness, you can whisk the spice into classic burger condiments like creamy mayonnaise or zesty ketchup.

When it comes to serving the burgers, top the spiced patty with the usual lineup of toppings like lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Otherwise, serve the garam masala burger with Indian-inspired additions like a refreshing dollop of raita, a sweet and sour chutney, or a tangy tamarind sauce — you can also sandwich the patty between naan in place of the typical brioche bun. Whatever you decide, know that the delicately spiced, yet richly flavored burgers are sure to be a smashing success.

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