This Community Recipe is Bonny’s Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers. They are made with mashed sweet potato, chickpeas and kidney beans, with subtle spice from cumin, garlic and pepper. These soft-centred patties have a cornflake coating for a super crunchy exterior. Serve them on soft bread buns full of crunchy salad and tangy pickles.
Community Recipes is a recurring feature where we share your vegan recipes on the Jewish Food Hero blog. If you want to share a recipe in this series, pitch us your idea here. This series is all about sharing healthy plant-based and vegan recipes. We are creating a positive community around food and sharing.
All about Bonny Coombe
Bonny is from the UK, and has been living in Battambang, Cambodia since 2013. She lives with her husband, Phireak, and their young daughter. Bonny is not Jewish, and she found out about Jewish Food Hero from her female Jewish friend and become an avid follower of Jewish Food Hero. She says she loves the way the recipes shared are healthy and simple, which makes them easier to create with fresh ingredients available in the Cambodian market.
Bonny is a part-time copywriter. She also works almost-full-time as Communications and Fundraising Manager for the theatre NGO she and her husband Phireak co-founded in 2019.
Lakhon Komnit Organization (LKO) – which means “Thinking Theatre” in Khmer – uses theatre as a tool for connection, critical reflection and empowerment. LKO works with Cambodian people including those living in poverty, women who are victims of abuse, and men incarcerated for drug addiction.
Why is theatre so important for Cambodia?
The genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79 subjected Cambodians to forced labour, starvation, disease, torture, and murder. By the end of the 4 year regime, an estimated 2 million people had died – about ¼ of the population. Among them, almost every Cambodian artist had been systematically murdered.
LKO was set up to protect, regenerate and develop the art of Lakhon Niyeay – Cambodian Spoken Theatre – which has almost been lost.
Today, LKO’s program of work includes:
Women’s Empowerment: building confidence through theatre for victims of Gender Based Violence. Women in this program create performances to share their experiences, and perform to members of their community – including their family members.
Drugs Intervention: theatre workshops for men detained in Battambang’s military-run Drug Education Centre, where there is no counseling available. By using theatre to re-create and explore past experiences, the men understand themselves better and build tools and strategies to stay drug-free after release.
Children’s Story Time – interactive storytelling sessions for young children in rural locations with limited access to education, to inspire creativity and imagination.
Artists Workshop – a support structure for rural-based performers who lack access to employment opportunities. The weekly sessions are a chance to keep practicing their art, share skills and develop new project ideas.
Scriptwriting – LKO Director Phireak writes stageplays based on little-known figures from Cambodian past and present, to help preserve the country’s unwritten history. In 2021, LKO will stage “Krouh Kombot Kabal” (The Headless Man). This is a new script by Phireak, exploring traditional Cambodian beliefs via his own family history.
Back home in the UK, Bonny always enjoyed cooking. Living in Cambodia has pushed her to improve her skills, since she always needs to be creative with the ingredients she has available. There is no such thing as a straightforward grocery shopping trip to the supermarket in Cambodia! Since living this way, Bonny has become so much more self-sufficient. If she wants to eat bread, yoghurt, cakes, stews and soups like she would at home – she makes them from scratch. As a result, Bonny is a big fan of batch cooking and freezing ahead.
She says that at first this was a real struggle, since things are so convenient back in the UK. However, over time, she has come to see living, eating and cooking this way as a real advantage. Her family eats healthier food with ingredients which are much closer to nature, her daughter understands where things come from and how to make them, and they appreciate what they have.
How did Bonny’s Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers recipe come to life?
This recipe first came to life to use up leftover ingredients before the next vegetable market trip. During Covid-19, her family were really into eating pumpkin. Since it is a long-life vegetable and so versatile, it was ideal to use when they were trying to stay home as much as possible.
The first version of these burgers mixed leftover roast pumpkin chunks, half a tin of kidney beans, half an old carrot and plenty of cumin and chili flakes. She coated the patties in breadcrumbs made from stale loaf crusts.
Feedback on the original recipe was mixed – which is to say that Bonny’s daughter said “I hate it”. Next time she made them, she scooped out the insides of some leftover baked sweet potatoes which she had on hand, and mixed them kidney beans and chickpeas. She mashed the whole lot together, then made two variations: spiced larger patties for the adults, and unspiced smaller bites for the younger diners. This time, it was a hit!
Variations for Bonny’s Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers
There are literally endless ways to adapt Bonny’s Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers according to what you have on hand and what you like.
Using up leftovers: Add in small leftover bits of vegetable dishes and dips – harissa spread, roast cauliflower, lentil salad – it can all go in there!
Mix up the veg: When you have any old vegetables that need using, chop them very finely and add to the mix.
Use any bean, legume or pulse: Literally anything works here. Lentils, butterbeans, fagioli, broad beans, even garden peas!
Spice it up: Add paprika, increase the cumin, mix in some dried chili flakes.
Fresh herbs: Parsley and chickpeas are very good friends. If you use garden peas, chop up some fresh mint and mix it through.
Crumb coating: Options here include oat flour, breadcrumbs, semolina flour, or crunched up unsweetened cereal.
How to make a flax-egg
Bonny’s recipe uses flax eggs to make the crunchy coating stick to the patties.
Flax eggs are a nutritious and successful alternative to hens eggs. The great news is they are also really simple to make! To make one flax egg: in a small bowl or cup, mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water. Leave to stand for 5 minutes or so, then use in place of egg in your recipe.
How to serve Bonny’s Vegan Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers?
In a fresh bread bun or pita – load it up with spicy relish, vegan mayo and crunchy fresh salad greens.
Slice the baked sweet potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the soft flesh into a large mixing bowl.
Drain and rinse the canned kidney beans and chickpeas, then add to the sweet potato. Add the grated carrot and minced garlic.
Mash all the ingredients together. You can do this with a fork or potato masher, or the easiest method is simply use clean hands.
Add in the cumin and seasoning and mix well to combine.
Use slightly damp hands to form balls of the mixture, the size is totally up to you. Place them onto a lined baking sheet and flatten to form burger patties.
Place the plant milk or flax eggs in a shallow, wide mouthed bowl. Sprinkle your crunchy coating of choice onto a plate.
One by one, dip each pattie into the milk/egg mixture, then into the crunchy coating, until they are completely covered.
When all the patties are coated, you can either cook right away, or place into the freezer to store for another day (You can cook them from frozen – just make sure they do not stick together during freezing!)
Bake in an oven preheated to 200 C, for 25-30 minutes. They are done when they’re golden brown and crisp on the outside.
Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to mix up our regular recipe rotation. Our Community Recipes feature is for just that – to share our favorites and hear from a variety of people in our community. Since you’ve read Bonny’s, do you feel inspired to share your own recipe? When you want to share your vegan recipe, don’t forget to get in touch !