Suvir Saran's Juicy Turkey-Cheddar Burgers

Suvir Saran's Juicy Turkey-Cheddar Burgers

[Photograph: Ben Fink]

Unlike an inherently flavorful beef burger, a burger made of ground turkey needs a little help to elevate itself into the realm of truly tasty. Suvir Saran, author of Masala Farm, has taken it upon himself to craft a turkey burger that's exceptional. Taking cues from both his Indian heritage and American ingredients, Saran's Juicy Turkey-Cheddar Burgers will forever change the way you think about bird burgers.

Saran has flavors going into these burgers in every step of the process. Curry leaves, chile flakes, cumin, and onions are toasted together and worked into the ground turkey with a blend of shredded cheddar, jalapeño, and cilantro before being seared stovetop to brown the crust on the outside with a touch of pink remaining within.

Served on toasty buns with a dollop of cool, chunky raita, these burgers are one of the best examples of east-meets-west cooking that we've come across in a long, long time. And certainly good enough to banish any remaining turkey burger related stigma.

Why you should make this: Turkey burgers have no business being this good.

Next time we might think about: Instead of a burger bun, next time we're thinking about keeping in line with the Indian theme and subbing in naan.

Reprinted with permission from Masala Farm by Suvir Saran. Copyright © 2012. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 8 fresh or 12 frozen curry leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely minced
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (preferably dark meat or a combination of white and dark meats)
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced (seeded and veined for less heat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro/fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 burger buns, toasted
  • Raita (recipe follows)
  • nbsp;
  • Raita
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh green chiles (like jalapeños or serranos), very finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh mint, or 1/4 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro


  1. 1.

    For the Raita:Place the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns in a small frying pan over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan often, until they're fragrant and the cumin is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a small plate to cool and then grind them using a spice grinder or coffee mill.

  2. 2.

    Whisk the yogurt in a large bowl until it's smooth. Stir in the cucumber, onion, tomato, chiles (if using), and mint. Stir in the toasted spices and cayenne. If serving immediately, stir in the salt and finish with the cilantro. Or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, stirring in the salt and cilantro just before serving.

  3. 3.

    For the burgers:Place 1 tablespoon of the oil, curry leaves, cumin seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring often, and cooking until the cumin seeds are fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Add the onion and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

  5. 5.

    Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl and gently knead in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the onion mixture and form into four patties.

  6. 6.

    Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel/absorbent paper. Heat over medium-high for 2 minutes, add 1 tablespoon oil, and then add the patties. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until browned and the center is cooked to your preferred doneness (I like mine slightly pink). Place the burgers on the toasted buns, dollop with Raita, and serve.