Tandoori Chicken Burgers

Tandoori Chicken Burger
Tandoori Chicken Burger

Hey, it’s our second burger post!  I really hope you’re finding some options or getting some ideas about what to bring to barbeques this summer — or what to serve at your own.

For some reason when Denise and I were discussing burgers, I was somewhat fixated on Indian spices.  I love Indian food, but there are so many allergen pitfalls when ordering out that I’m finding it easier to make my own at home — and easier now that I can run some of my cooking choices by my Indian neighbor.  He approved the spice mix I’m going to give you below, so it must be good, right?

You can buy tandoori spices.  Tandoori chicken is a reasonably classic Indian dish, named for the clay oven in which chicken is baked after being marinated in yogurt and spices.  By briefly marinating and then grinding the chicken, adding some cashew nuts for creaminess, we can skip the yogurt part, and in this case, a grill stands in for the fancy pointy-topped oven.  By making your own spice, you can more carefully control the flavor of the burger, but if you’re not up to it, not interested, or in any way disinclined, seek it out pre-blended.

Mmmm, burger
Mmmm, burger

Tandoori Chicken Burgers

Tandoori Spice — makes enough for 2-3 recipes of burgers

  • 1 Tablespoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (regular, not smoked)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (you can buy this ground, but it’s worth it to grind your own)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne, depending on your desire for heat, as well as spice

For Burgers:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • zest of one lime (organic if you can get it)
  • 2- 3 Tablespoons tandoori spice
  • lime wedges, for serving

First, marinate chicken thighs in the citrus juice and vinegar for about 30 minutes — if the marinade doesn’t quite cover the chicken, add water to cover.

Lay the chicken out on paper towels to drain and dry.

In your food processor, grind the cashews to a fine consistency.  I find that I need to pulse my food processor, as just turning it on tends to make nut butter instead.  Remove the nuts to a mixing bowl.

Grind the chicken in the food processor, then add it to the mixing bowl.

Add the lime zest and seasoning, and mix all the ingredients well.  You can try using a spoon, but you really need to mix with your hands to get everything well-incorporated.  Mix until you think it’s well-blended, then mix a little more.  A note on the seasoning range — if you’re a lover of Indian food, or spices, or both, go all in with the 3 T measurement.  If your company is a little more mixed (children, unadventurous eaters) ease them into the fun with the lower amount of spice.

Now shape the patties and lay them out on a parchment or plastic wrap covered platter and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.  This recipe should make 4 regular burgers or 8 slider-sized burgers.

Grill until the interior temperature of the burger reaches approximately 160F.  Serve with sliced cucumbers on a bun of your choice.

mmmm... spicy burger goodness
mmmm… spicy burger goodness


    1. first off, what is fenugreek? also, i HATE dark meat chicken, but i have a package of ground white meat chicken in my fridge. is there a way to make this with already ground meat? thanks! 🙂 col

      1. Fenugreek is an Indian spice, kind of lighter than mustard powder in color. Penzey’s sells it, so I have it, though I can’t remember what I bought it for. I did look it up on wikipedia, but that didn’t give me much more information. It’s good — you’ll like it!

        I think you could, yes, do this with white meat chicken, preground. Consider adding maybe 1-2 Tablespoons more of the cashews, sticking to the lower end of the spice amount (2T versus 3T), and maybe a tiny splash (1-2 teaspoons) of rice wine or white wine vinegar, for a little tang. And be VERY careful not to dry them out while cooking. That’s why I prefer dark meat for burgers — it’s so easy to overcook ground white meat chicken.

        Let me know how it works, Col!

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