These scarlet burgers can be served on top of grains or salad, eaten like latkes or falafel, or tucked into a bun. My favorite way to eat them is topped with yogurt, a fragrant mound of dill, and a simple chopped tomato and cucumber relish. The burger mixture can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. (This recipe is from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia). —Louisa Shafia
grapeseed oil, plus extra for searing
peeled and grated raw beets (approximately 1 small beet)
cloves garlic, crushed
sweet smoked paprika
cooked green lentils, rinsed and drained
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
cooked short-grain brown rice or white sushi rice, at room temperature
Slice the onion to a thickness of 1/4 inch. In a medium skillet, sauté the onion in the oil over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until it starts to darken and caramelize. Turn down the heat slightly and add the beets along with the garlic, walnuts, raisins, and paprika, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor and pulse several times until chunky. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with the lentils, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Replace the food processor without washing and add the rice and egg, and pulse to form a coarse puree. Add the rice mixture to the onion-lentil mixture and mix well with your hands.
Lightly oil your hands and divide the dough into 8 portions. Shape each portion into a patty just under 1 inch thick.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to coat the bottom. Place the burgers in the skillet and cook undisturbed for 5 minutes. Gently flip the burgers and turn down the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, until the burgers have a firm, brown crust. Serve hot with your favorite condiments.
I'm fascinated by the way food connects us with different times, places, and each other. I live in Nashville, TN, a city rich with culinary traditions and a fast growing immigrant population. As Culinary Liaison for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, I organize events that unite people around food and spotlight the work of immigrant chefs. My cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is a winner of Food52's Piglet award. I love cooking Iranian rice and hearing people crunch on the crispy tahdig from the bottom of the pot. Find my Persian Rice Bonnet and Persian Spice Kit on my website and on Etsy.