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8 & $20: Masala Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney

A tropical take on a cookout staple calls for a gulpable white wine
Photo by: Greg Hudson
A fresh white wine with just a hint of sweetness can handle the combination of spice and fruity flavors in this burger.

Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Posted: August 9, 2016

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

Summertime calls for burgers—a touch messy, with juices and condiments that dribble. But as good as a classic backyard burger can be, I was in the mood for a version that reflects the sunny weather. That inspired me to create these burgers, with a hint of heat from spices and a fruity, tropical topping.

I chose the lighter taste of turkey as the backdrop for this mosaic of flavors, giving the burgers a boost of complexity with ready-made garam masala powder, along with a little onion and garlic to round out the mix. I dislike the crunch that comes from adding chopped raw onion to burger meat, so I got around this by grating the onion and then lightly sweating it in a pan with the garlic. Bingo—mellow umami flavors that melted right into the burger.

To keep the list of ingredients short, I took advantage of one of the many jarred chutneys now readily available in most grocery stores. Mango is one of my favorite chutney flavors and one of the easiest to find, but your mood may lead you in a different direction.

Although these burgers have a lot of flavor, I thought some textural contrast was also needed. Crispy onions piled on top seemed like the perfect thing to add some pop, but I didn’t want the fuss of making onion rings. I ultimately came up with an easy hack by lightly tossing onion strips with a few scant drops of water, dredging them in a little flour and quickly frying them. If you have a favorite onion ring recipe, it would certainly work well here.

Given the flavor profile, I swapped in store-bought naan for the traditional buns, and finished the burgers off with a light garnish of shredded carrots and sprouts for a hint of freshness.

Rather than a typical burger red, a refreshing white wine seemed more in line with the sunny vibe I was looking for in this meal. I sampled two along with these turkey burgers: a Chenin Blanc blend from South Africa and a Riesling from Washington.

The Chenin Blanc was bright on its own, with crisp grapefruit and stone fruit notes rounded out by a hint of lanolin. Alongside the food, however, the grapefruit became pithy and a touch bitter.

The Riesling was equally refreshing, with lots of citrus, kiwifruit and floral notes. Just off-dry, with a savory note in the background, this went down with the ease of lemonade alongside this summertime dish.

Masala Turkey Burgers With Mango Chutney


Pair with an off-dry white such as Charles Smith Riesling Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2014 (89 points, $12).


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45–50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Approximate food costs: $26

  • Canola oil
  • 1 1/2 onions (divided, 1 onion thinly sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 3–4 tablespoons flour
  • 6–8 naan
  • Mango chutney
  • Shredded carrots, for garnish
  • Sprouts or greens of your choosing, for garnish

1. Use a box grater to shred 1/2 of an onion into a bowl. (You can also use a food processor.) Sweat the grated onion and its juices, along with the garlic and a generous pinch of salt, in a pan with a small amount of oil, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Mix together the turkey, garam masala powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the onion-garlic mixture and combine. (Note: To test seasoning, form a small patty and cook through, then adjust as needed.) Form the turkey mixture into 6–8 patties.

3. Bring a greased grill pan or grill to medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, cook the burgers about 5 minutes per side, or until an internal-read thermometer registers 155˚ F–160˚ F. Remove from heat, cover and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. (Residual heat will finish cooking the burgers.)

4. While the burgers are cooking, heat a generous amount of oil in a deep fryer set to 350° F or in a large pot on medium-high. Lightly toss the onion slices with a couple of teaspoons of water, then dredge them through the flour to lightly coat. Working in small batches, fry the onions in the hot oil until they turn golden-brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper as soon as they come out of the fryer.

5. Gently warm the naan in a toaster oven or oven while the turkey burgers rest. Arrange a burger on each piece of naan. Top each patty with 1–2 tablespoons of chutney and crispy onions, then garnish with the carrots and sprouts. Secure with toothpicks if needed. Serves 6 to 8.

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