The best kinda street food, are Bun Kababs, and this vegetarian Pakistani burger screammmssss delicious! (AND SPICY )
What are bun kababs
“Bun Kebab” literally translates to well, Bun and Kebabs. It’s a fried kebab in a bun, slathered with chutney and other delicious stuff hanging out of it. The kabab can either be vegetarian, like this one or made with meat or eggs. It’s one of THE most popular street style food in Pakistan and is somewhat slightly close to the popular Indian snack “vada pav”.
Don’t be alarmed if the ingredient list seems a tad bit long or a little foreign to you. There are only a few ingredients that you may not have in your pantry, and I will mention substitutes for them too.
- Green tamarind Chutney – The chutney for this recipe is a cross between a sweet tamarind chutney and a spicy mint green chutney. You will need tamarind pulp, Yogurt, Green Chilies (serrano), garlic, Salt, cumin powder, black pepper powder, coriander leaves, Mint leaves
- Split Chickpea (chana dal) and potato patties – This recipe uses a vegetarian patty. You can use a different chickpea to potato ratio if you prefer. Its boiled with ginger, garlic, button red chilies, cumin and carom seeds and of course, salt. And then potatoes, some coriander and onions are added. The extra tartness of the patties comes through mango powder (aamchoor) and chaat masala.
- Eggs – The highlight of this recipe is the beaten egg coating that is THE hallmark of the street style bun kababs.
- Cooking Oil and/or Butter – Any cooking oil of your choice to fry the egg coated kababs. You will also need butter or oil while toasting the buns, but this is optional.
- Buns – The best buns for a good bun kabab are the round buns with no sesame seeds.
- Veggies – Most common vegetables in a bun kabab are onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. This is mostly a flexible topping and be as creative or as simple as you want to.
- Other condiments – Some versions use ketchup, mayo, a simple omelette or coleslaw in their bun kababs. Again, this is totally optional and upto your preference.
- Mango powder – You can use tamarind pulp instead (more details in recipe card)
- Chaat masala – Just skip chaat masala altogether and use 1/2 tsp of crushed red chili flakes
- Round seedless buns – Use dinner rolls instead.
- Eggs – I’d definitely not recommend skipping it. But IF for dietary restrictions, you cannot have eggs, use all purpose flour to coat the patties. You need something to coat the patties because they are delicate.
- Whole red chilies – Use Crushed red chilies
- Coriander leaves aka Cilantro – If you are not a cilantro fan, use parsley
Making the Daal and potato Patties
Everything starts a day earlier, when you soak split chickpeas (dal) overnight or for 12 hours. Soaking dals are always important to get rid of any antinutrients. Just change the water once or twice.
NOTE: If you live in a hot humid climate, keep the soaked dal in fridge overnight rather than on the counter.
Drain all the water and transfer dal into a pressure cooker or a normal pot. Add all the boiling masala in the pot. Add 5 cups of water or as much needed for a pressure cooker.
The dal needs to cook long enough so that each grain can be broken up by hand. It should be that tender. IF there is still water left in the pot, dry it out at high flame. Don’t drain this water away, because it holds a lot of flavor and salt. You can also add your potatoes in the dal itself to boil it. I already had pre-boiled potatoes which is why I didn’t need to add it to my dal pot.
After your dal and potatoes have cooled down, chuck everything in a food processor, all seasonings, onions, coriander etc and just process till you get a smooth mix. And viola! your kebab mixture is ready.
My potatoes were boiled separately, so I had to make the patty mixture outside of the food processor.
You should end up with a smooth patty mixture. This is a great time to do a taste test to check seasoning and spices.
NOTE: IF you want, you can freeze your kebabs at this point to use for a later date.
After shaping your patties, you are going to prepare the egg coating. To do this, beat eggs in a bowl with an electric beater for 5 to 6 mins. Your eggs should look light and fluffy. Dip the kebabs in the frothy eggs and be very gentle while handling your kebabs now. Use a large spoon to coat the kebabs with eggs. Place the coated kebabs on a greased heated frying pan.
Flip the kebabs once the egg gets golden on one side. Add another tbsp of oil after flipping kebabs.
Stack all the fried kebabs in a plate ready for assembly.
Making the Green Tamarind Chutney
The chutney in this recipe is different from the regular mint chutney or the sweet tamarind chutney. This is a specifically street style food chutney which works with a lot of other street food too. Its sweet and spicy at the same time and literally takes 2 mins to whip up. Just put all the listed ingredients in a blender and viola! Its ready!
Assembling Bun Kababs
The street style bun kebabs are almost fried in oil. I think we can dial it down a notch at home, mostly because we eat it pretty regularly. Toast both sides of the bun in the same frying pan. With butter is alwaysss the way to go but of course, skip it if you want.
Add a layer of chutney on the toasted buns, and any other veggie you want. Place the kebab and now top it off with some onions. Here’s where you can go crazy and do as many toppings as you like. Add ketchup or cucumber or tomatoes or coleslaw or a fried egg! Close the bun kebab with top toasted bun and digg innnn!
- Always make sure to dry all the water of the boiled dal and make it as dry as possible. IF you are dal is very wet, it can break the patties.
- Use a tablespoon of oil when adding egg coated kababs to the frying pan, the eggs tend to absorb all the oil, so you want to be careful. Add another tablespoon after you flip the kababs.
- The kababs are towards the delicate side. Handle with a little care when your dipping them in egg. A flat spatula is best
- If you are making these for a high tea, you can easily fry the kababs in advance, like about 2 3 hours in advance, and simply assemble them when needed.
- Dipping the onions in vinegar or lemon juice will keep them fresh for longer and take care of that bitterness they hold.
- Toasting the buns both sides will keep them crispier for longer and the inner side won’t get soggy quickly after you’ve slathered it with chutney.
Can I exclude eggs / etc ingredients from the recipe?
Eggs play an important role in keeping the patties hold their shape. If you are planning to skip eggs, I’d recommend coating the patties in plain flour before frying. Keep in mind, that they are going to be delicate, as they aren’t meant to be fried on their own.
Can I skip potatoes from the recipe?
Potatoes act as a binding agent, I will NOT recommend skipping it.
Is this recipe too spicy?
Pakistani streetfood is definitely on the spicy side. Reduce the heat by excluding green chilies from the chutney and reducing the red chilies by half.
Why do my patties break?
These patties are generally delicate to begin with, so improper handling or technique can cause it to break. First of, make sure to always use dal with all the water from the boiling pot drained, and be gentle while flipping and dipping the patties. If you still find your patties break, add 1 tsp of cornflour in the patty mixture.
Split Chickpea (chana dal) Boil masala
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1 cup split chickpeas chana dal soaked overnight
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ajwain carom seems
- 8 to 10 whole button red chilies
- 2 + 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 cups water
- 2 medium potatoes boiled* 500 gm
- 1 cup coriander leaves (cilantro) or half a bunch
- 1 big onion
- 2 tsp mango powder / khattayi powder*
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tbsp chat masala
- 4 tbsp tamarind pulp
- 6 tbsp Yogurt
- 4 Green Chilies serrano
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/2 cup Coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup Mint leaves
- Water to dilute if needed.
- 12 Round buns or pav without sesame seeds
- 2 medium thinly sliced onions
- 2 eggs
- Cooking oil for frying kebabs
- ketchup optional
- 2 Cucumber sliced or other veggies optional
DAL KEBAB PATTIES
- Soak split chickpeas (dal) overnight or for 12 hours. Change water once or twice. (see notes)
- Drain all the water and transfer dal into a pressure cooker or a normal pot.
- Add all the boiling masala in the pot.
- Add 5 cups of water or as much needed for a pressure cooker.
- Cook the lentils for about 30 mins or so, to soften the dal. Check a single grain to see if you can break it with your hand. It should be that tender. Dry out the excess liquid. (you can also chuck in potatoes in the dal to cook them together if you don’t want to boil the potatoes separately)
- Allow the dal/potatoes to cool down, then add it to a food processor. Add all the other ingredients mentioned for the kebabs.
- Process till you get a nice smooth patty mixture.
- Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly
- Make round medium sized patties (that fits in the buns you have)
- Add all ingredients for chutney in a blender and blend away to make a smooth chutney. You can add more yogurt or tamarind if you want.
- Adjust the seasoning according to your liking. Add water if you want a thinner consistency.
- Set aside
- Break 2 eggs in a bowl and beat with an electric beater for 5 to 6 mins, until the eggs turn nice and frothy.
- Place a frying pan on stove at medium flame with about a tbsp oil.
- Dip the kebabs in the beaten eggs. Use a large spoon to coat the kebabs. Place the coated kebabs on the heated frying pan.
- Flip the kebabs once the egg gets golden on one side. Add another tbsp of oil after flipping kebabs. Set aside.
- Toast buns with or without butter in the same pan.
- Add a layer of chutney on the toasted buns, place kebab and sliced onions on top. Add ketchup or cucumber or any other condiment of choice. Close the bun kebab with top toasted bun and serve hot with more chutney and onions on the side.
- If you live in a hot humid climate, soak the lentils on the counter for 4 hours, and soak overnight in the fridge.
- If you don’t have mango or khatai powder, add 1 tbsp of tamarind paste during the last 10 mins of boiling the split chickpeas
- You can boil the potatoes together with the dal as well.
- This recipe is definitely spicy, reduce red chilies and green chilies by half if you can’t eat spicy food.