Dabeli: The Best Vegetarian (and Vegan!) “Burger” I’ve Ever Eaten!

Indian street food is like nothing else I’ve experienced.  It’s creative, it’s delicious and it’s cheap!  I’m not quite sure what makes the taste so unforgettable–some say it’s the oil, and the spices…most say it’s the dirt and the dust. Whatever it is…it works!

Before I went to India I was warned by my doctor, my parents and pretty much anyone I talked to, that I should not eat any of the street food or drink any of the water.  I tried my best to avoid the water—but the food was irresistible!

People lined up for lunch at a roadside stand in Kolkata.

With a hefty stash of Imodium and a few packages of Charmin toilet paper (too much information?!)…I tasted a little bit of everything.  At first I was worried that I’d get sick and my whole trip would be ruined…but when you’re traveling with someone who has spent most of their life in India, you want to enjoy what they do!

Washing Dishes at a Roadside Stand in Kolkata

Luckily, aside from some mild stomach aches, I survived!  …and I want to share my love of Indian street food with everyone!  I know it’s impossible for all my readers to travel half across the world…so I thought I’d share a few of the chaats (snacks) I loved– and a few Piyush craves– right here on my blog.

I’ve already blogged about the singaras (here) and the aloo tikkis (here); but today I want to introduce you to the dabeli!

Dabeli is not something I tasted in India, but I wish I could have!  Instead, this is a chaat that Piyush has loved since his childhood days in Mumbai.  It is basically mashed potatoes cooked with some onions and spices, served on a burger bun (ladi pav) and topped with pomegranate seeds, peanuts and coriander–and then (yes, there is more!) doused in tamarind and mint/coriander chutney.

This vegetarian version of a burger blows all the other vegetarian burgers out of the water!  I’m serious.  I’ll never eat boca burgers again.  Or beef.  Nope. Never again.  I only want the dabeli!

Spiced Mashed Potato Patties

Because it’s made with mashed potatoes, this is not a snack for anyone counting carbs.  You could, however, use part mashed potatoes and part mashed cauliflower or even beans (I think garbanzo would be good)—the burger will be higher in protein and lower in carbs; but the flavor won’t be quite the same.

I looked “dabeli” up online—to try and find the proper spice mix–and I found one that looks promising here.  But, as luck would have it, that afternoon at the Indian store–standing on a shelf all by itself–was a little jar of dabeli masala.  I picked it up, read the ingredients  and threw it in my basket.

I don’t usually use pre-made spice mixes, but I figured what the heck?  To make it even better, the owner of the store gave me the mix for free!  Awesome.

Dabeli Masala

Because the patty is a little on the spicy side, I thought I’d use a sweeter bun.  I didn’t have time (or desire) to make bread or do any extra dishes

I was also making Vegetarian Korma for dinner that evening…

So I purchased a package of sweet Hawaiian rolls.  I bought the large ones, but I think next time I make Dabeli…the small rolls would be a better option!  These rolls are so yummy…and remind me of my sister.  Random? Maybe.

Vegans: check ingredients. You will need to substitute.  Unfortunately, these include eggs.

When Piyush returned from work, I had his sandwich made and his juice poured (aren’t I just the greatest?! haha)…he took one bite of the Dabeli, and I could tell he was happy.  He said it tasted just like what he remembered!

Happy Husband!

I hope that some of you reading this will be inspired to make this delicious chaat at home.  It’d be a fantastic alternative to a meat burger, and actually it is vegan!

If you follow a vegan life-style, be sure to check the ingredients on the buns…you will have to use a substitute.

Dabeli: Indian Potato Patty

  • 1/2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 c. mashed potatoes (a great way to use left-overs)
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 4 tsp. dabeli masala
  • 1/2 tbsp water, if needed
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a pan over med-high heat.  Once the oil is heated, toss in the dabeli masala and the onions.  Cook until the onions become tender and translucent.
  • Once the onions are cooked, add in the mashed potatoes.  Stir everything well so that it is all combined.  Add a little water if your potatoes begin to look too dry.
  • Taste-test a little and add salt if needed.  Remove the mixture from heat and let cool.
  • Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, form into 6 balls (about 70 g each).  Flatten to form patties.
  • Grab a fry pan and spray it with cooking spray (or olive oil spray).  Once the pan is hot cook the patties for about 1 or 2 minutes on each side.  They’ll begin to turn a little brown and kind of form a “crust.”
  • Remove the patties from heat and set aside until you’re ready to put everything together!

To Assemble:

  • Buns (I like Kings Hawaiian because they impart a nice sweetness to the dabeli)
  • pomegranate seeds
  • roasted peanuts- chopped
  • tamarind chutney
  • mint/coriander chutney
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped coriander (cilantr0)
  • sev (I used aloo bhujia–puchased from the Indian store)
Assembly Directions:
  • Spray each half of the bun with a little olive oil (or use butter if you want).  Toast the buns in a pan over medium-high heat.  Once they’ve begun to turn brown, remove from heat.
  • Spread the bottom half of the bun with a little tamarind and mint/coriander chutney.  Place the patty on top.
  • Sprinkle the patty with peanuts, pomegranate seeds and red onion.
  • Drizzle with more chutney (to your taste) and finish with a little sev and chopped coriander.
  • Savor the flavor!

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Beware: these get a little messy!!!

P.S. My dishes did eventually get done…I thought maybe Piyush would do them since I made him all that excellent Indian food, but no luck!  First, I slave over the stove…then I slave over the sink!  HAHA! :)

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18 thoughts on “Dabeli: The Best Vegetarian (and Vegan!) “Burger” I’ve Ever Eaten!

  1. Muthu

    That looks really good, also you should work out the details with Piyush before you hand him the food or make him do the dishes before you hand him the food :)

    Reply
  2. The Mistress of Spices

    Very nice! This sounds like aloo tikki on a burger with some great additions. I totally agree with you on the street food in India…I grew up being told that I couldn’t eat it but finally did on my first trip w/o family. Too good to be passed up!

    Reply
  3. Joanna @ Chic & Gorgeous Treats

    Hi Shari! Thanks for popping over at my blog.. though I don’t think mine is as delish as yours too.. LOL.. As much I have always wanted to post on my cooking journey, my family dig in too fast before I could even take some shots of them. Btw, I am as crazy as you too, love stocking up on spices, and am a huge fan on Indian cuisine, be it southern or even nothern. I love the mixture of spices, the heat and am loving this ultimate vegan potato burger.. Can’t wait to make this for one of my lunch break!! Will be back for more ;P.. Cheers, Jo

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Jo…if you love spice, you will love this “burger.” It really is delicious! I’m glad you’ve found a few things on my blog that look appetizing! Let me know if you give any of them a try!!!

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Garden Nut Bite Size Homegrown Herbal Patties | Gold Within

  5. sago

    THIS IS TO ALERT YOU TO FACEBOOK PAGE Culinariafusion-Culinary Consciousness Cookbook, they have posted your Dabeli burger recipe. MOST PICTURES ON THIS PAGE ARE STOLEN FROM DIFFERENT WEBSITES. EVEN THE CAPTIONS AND COMMENTS HAVE BEEN LIFTED FROM VARIOUS PLACES ON THE INTERNET. NO CREDIT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE REAL AUTHORS OF THESE RECIPES. AS MENTIONED IN THE POST BELOW, PEOPLE ARE BEING MISLED INTO THINKING THAT THESE PICTURES ARE OF DISHES MADE BY THE OWNER OF THIS WEBPAGE FOR THEIR UPCOMING COOKBOOK.

    Reply

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