Back for more already, huh?

During this series, I want to show you that vegetarian barbecues don’t just have to be about veggie sausages and tired-looking veggie burgers. If they were then the barbecue world would be a really, really sad place. Well, for me anyway. Whenever I’m asked to attend barbecues I pray and pray that I won’t be sitting in a corner eating some store-bought meat-free burger. Yawn. To my dismay, unless I bring my own food this is usually the case at such affairs. Is some decent barbecue nosh really too much to ask our carnivorous chums for?

Allow me to demonstrate: These burgers are made from green bananas, chickpeas and a load of fresh flavours, and boring they ain’t.

No, no, no; the green bananas don’t impart any particularly banana-ish flavour. They have a deliciously rich texture akin to probably the richest, creamiest, firmest sweet potato your taste buds have ever encountered. The taste however, is only slightly sweet and absorbent of any flavours you fancy adding. Why Sanjana, they sound perfect for making burgers!

And indeed, they are.

Green bananas are abundant in a cuisine very close to my heart, East African. This type of cooking shows us that the most impossible of impossible flavour combinations can work as harmonious culinary fusions; with regards to this recipe, the unlikely combination is earthy yet fresh. Each flavour and texture is balanced by a contrasting counterpart.

Binary opposites, anyone?

Yes. Let’s!

*Soft, sweet and earthy green bananas > Heaps of fresh coriander and lemon

*Nutty chickpeas and sesame seeds > Fruity olive oil

*Warming chillies and garlic > Cooling, moisture-adding sour cream

*Smooth, yielding green banana burgers > Encased in a toasted, crisp semolina coating

*Smooth, yielding green banana burgers which are encased in a toasted, crisp semolina coating > All inside a soft burger bun with refreshing spinach leaves, lettuce and tomatoes. Oh and not forgetting that essential slice of rich, tangy cheddar cheese.

Could this sound any more like an M&S advert?

Probably.

Shall we press on?

Matoki (Green Banana) Burgers
(makes approximately ten 3-inch X 1/2-inch burgers)

Ingredients

For the Burgers

10 small green bananas, boiled with the skins on (but pierced) until tender
1 240g tin white chickpeas, drained and washed (Kabuli channa)
1 large onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 green chillies (or to taste), minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp sesame seeds
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/3 cup coriander, chopped finely
4 tbsp sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1 tsp white pepper
Salt to taste

For the Burger Coating

Coarse semolina to coat both surfaces and sides of each burger

To serve

Burger buns and burger toppings like baby spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, peppers, plain yogurt, etc. Be creative. Go wild.

Method

1. In a small pan, heat the olive oil and gently sauté the onion, garlic, chillies and sesame seeds until aromatic. Don’t let it brown. Set aside.

2. Mash together the peeled green bananas and chickpeas. You could use a food processor but be sure to pulse it briefly because we want some texture in there. Overmixing could also make the mixture too moist.

3. Add in all of the other ingredients for the burgers including the sautéd onions, garlic, sesame seeds and chillies and combine thoroughly.

4. Using your hands, mould the mixture into burger shapes avoiding any cracks. I moulded mine into 3 inches wide by scant 1 inch thick. Lightly coat each burger in semolina and set aside.

5. Once all of the mixture is used up, place on a baking tray lined with cling film and cover with more cling film. Refrigerate until you’re ready to barbecue them. This will give them time to firm up. At this point you could also pack them into the freezer for future use.

6. When you’re ready, grill the burgers on both sides until golden. Note: You can also oven-bake these, or cook them in a domestic grill.

7. Serve with all the trimmings!

Next time you’re invited to a friend’s BBQ and are expecting veggie sausages… Bring your own Matoki Burgers. Even the meat eaters will pinch some!

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