Express News Service
For Indians used to chicken in a bun parading as burgers, much like the vegetable biryani pretends to be a biryani, the past year’s order-from-home trends saw the rise of a global favourite—the true burger.
The hamburger has always been a classic, comfort pick for ‘meatophiles’, associated with smoky goodness and family barbecues.
The original hamburger has nothing to do with ham; the range has expanded from the popular double cheeseburgers to gourmet buns with gruyere and artisanal wagyu burgers. Important to create a perfect hamburger is to get the proportion between the bread and the patty, with its accoutrements and textures right.
Get the bread
Chefs Priyam Kumar and Parth Saxena, flipping mean burgers at Gobsmackers in Delhi, nail it. “A speciality burger hinges on the choice of bread that needs to be soft, yet crisp enough after toasting, to hold the juiciness of the patty without turning soggy,” explains Priyam.
“Use a rich yet light, classic flour soft bun that has its mild flavour, or a multigrain for a wholesome mouthfeel. If you want to pack in the umami, elevate the bun. Go for an enriched brioche to add a new dimension to the texture,” says Parth. “We use a herb and garlic bun to keep the taste, but avoid the eggs. Ideally, stick to the ratio 2:1—patty double to the weight of the bread.”
With cloud bread streaking across Instagrammable pictures, is it worthy of a speciality burger? “Cloud bread is like a marshmallow, they grin in unison. While it is gluten-free, it is not the ideal bread for a truly enjoyable burger. We would rather have a burger bowl without the bun altogether!”
Of course, the quick pick has come a long way since its basic rendition, inspired in Hamburg, Germany, and then slowly moved to America as immigrants from Europe flowed in towards the end of the 1800s.
Though there are many claimants to its invention, the first burger was reportedly sold by Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch in Connecticut—a hamburger and steak sandwich—in 1900. Cut to 2020, when the Mac was a mass-produced version in India offering imponderables like chicken tikka burger and paneer burgers. Chef Utkarsh Bhalla of Sly Granny in Delhi roots for the ciabatta. “It is hearty enough to hold the juicy patty, the gooey sauce, and the fresh greens.
Crusty complexioned with a soft belly, the Italian-style ciabatta provides a robust structure for the juiciest of burgers,” he says. “Essentially the bread must have substance and durability. Dark rye buns, with their earthiness, comprising flavoursome salmon burgers. A nice butter brioche is a great pick for a lean burger. English muffins work the best with breakfast burgers. The sourdough buns take burgers to the next level with their tangy flavour, chewy texture, and crisp, crackly crust,” explains Utkarsh.
Then there are nouveau bakes. Chef Asif Ansari powering Captain G’s Burger Company in Delhi champions the curious potato bread. “Yellowish burger buns of potato bread give that extra punch with a dash of potato-ish aftertaste. Brioches make for buttery, feather-light, indulgent burger buns. Their sweet aftertaste makes these bad boys an absolute winner with red meat, slightly heavy and indulgent.”
Making burgers with frozen patties is gastronomic hara- kiri. Says Chef Rohan D Souza of The Lazy Goose in Goa, “Bring in the angus patty, combine with foie gras for that exotic punch, go for pork and chorizo, or chicken jalapeño, or good quality steak, and the burger spells flavour artistry,” he says.
Of course, everybody loves a sloppy Joe every now and then, but to make each mouthful relish-worthy, choose the meat carefully. Says Chef Kumar, “Always choose meat that binds together and is in the same diameter as the bun.” Adds Chef Saxena, “Go by the height of the bun you choose, and its flavour. Any strongly flavoured bread would mask the meat and change the flavour.”
The wealth of the burger belly does the trick in whetting your appetite as you chomp up. “Choose a special blend (50 percent chuck, 50 percent sirloin, or with bacon trimmings) for a unique flavour and texture,” explains Utkarsh. “For well-cooked burgers, go with 75 percent meat to 25 percent fat,” he says.
Top it up
The choice of flavours is endless. From bacon jam, herbed goat cheese, truffle salt, garlic aioli…the realm is endless. “Pick pineapple for a meat and fruit combination as its bright sweetness offsets umami-rich meat to make the flavours pop,” says Utkarsh. And now, if you will excuse us, we simply need to have a burger.
The Master Exploder (By Parth and Priyam)
Two Taurus patties grilled to a medium-well (Prime B**f Tenderloin, herbs, buttered onions and our spice blend)
• 1 Classic ol‘ Softie Bun
• 4 Slices of Cheddar Cheese
• Cress, arugula, baby spinach
• Honey Mustard
• Chargrilled onions and thinly sliced sweet gherkins
Toast the buns on a grill with butter till golden brown. Smear honey mustard and stack up while hot.