Carrot, Cumin & Kidney Bean Burger, 17p – WAS 9P [VG/V/DF]

This burger is where the media storm began for me and, dubbed ‘the 9p burger’ because of the low cost of the ingredients used to make it in 2012, it’s one of my most popular recipes. A can of value range red kidney beans is a cheap but excellent source of protein and I built a lot of my early cooking around it. When my then-toddler asked me for burgers for tea, I made him these, and they became a firm staple in my household. 

These burgers cost 9p each to make in 2012, due in part to a large 1.25kg Basics ‘stew pack’ of carrots, potatoes, onions and sometimes a small swede if I remember right, although seeing I have no swede recipes, my memory may be failing me slightly. This stew pack was discontinued a few years ago, which is a shame. I used to pick them up and count the individual items in there, looking for the ones with smaller vegetables as psychologically, it felt as though I were getting more for my meagre money. I still do it now – and I don’t know if it is with pride or sadness that I see my 7 year old son counting the bananas in the bag at the supermarket, hunting out the one with the most fruits for a fixed price. Some things, I guess, never quite leave you.

Makes 4 burgers, at 17p each now. 

1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, 35p (Was 17p in 2013. Price increase: 206%)

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped, 10p (Was 5p in 2013. Price increase: 200%)

1 carrot, grated, 7p (Was 5p in 2013)

1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand. Reassuringly still the same price, and far cheaper than the supermarket own brand at £1 for a measly 38g)

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped, 10p – (80p/28g – I grew it then and I still do, so I don’t have the same price increase data on it unfortunately.)

a splash of oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the burgers, 3p (£3/3l sunflower or vegetable oil – price has not changed significantly in the last few years, but it is important to note that this is from the mid-range at the supermarket, not the Basics)

1 heaped teaspoon flour, plus extra to shape the burgers, 1p (was 45p, now 65p. Price increase: 144%)

Drain the kidney beans and rinse in cold water to wash away the ‘tinned’ taste. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to soften. 

Put the onion, carrot, cumin and coriander into a medium sauté pan. Add the splash of oil and cook on a low heat to soften. 

When the kidney beans have softened, drain and add to the carrots and onions. Take off the heat and mash together until you have a smoothish purée (like mashed potato consistency). Stir in the flour. 

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. With floured hands, take a quarter of the burger mixture and roll it into a ball, about the size of a golf ball.

Make three more balls with the remaining mixture. Place one in the oil and flatten gently with a fork to make the burger shape. Depending on the size of your pan, you may be able to cook all the burgers at once or need to do them in batches – unless you’re freezing some of the uncooked patties. 

Cook for a few minutes on one side, before turning. The burgers need to be handled with care as they can be quite fragile! 

When cooked on both sides, remove from the pan and serve – eating them hot.

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  1. Hi jack, it’s still a great recipe and shocking to see how disproportionate the effect of food inflation is at the cheaper end. You might want to double check your percentages though as a doubling of price is a 100 percent increase not 200, I don’t want you to get flak for the details when the point of the article is sound! X

  2. Jack, don’t be sad when your lovely lad counts bananas. This, and everything else he’s seen you doing, and learned from, is setting him in the right direction for a well-balanced and sensible adult life. He’ll understand the value, and the cost, of everything, which so many kids grow up either taking for granted or being totally oblivious of. You’re teaching him well.

  3. Shocking that something that cost 9p in 2013 now costs 17p. I belong to the lucky ones who don’t have to count every penny in order to eat and haven’t had to do so since I was in my early 20s (nearly 40 years ago now) but that doesn’t mean I can’t count, and I don’t suppose that benefits or salaries have risen sufficiently to support this difference for those for whom small margins are still really important. I still live by the ideal that food should not be wasted and we eat leftovers when we have them (even if they are what others might consider to be a feast) and still trawl the supermarkets for what represents bargains for us because there are some things you never really grow out of.

  4. I’m sure that I have seen stew packs in my local Sainsburys, (Arnold, Nottingham). Perhaps it is something to do with the chain’s perceptions of what will sell. Here in the Midlands, (which of course is the frozen north as far as anyone south of Watford is concerned), where we keep pigeons for sport and food, all wear cloth caps and use baths as coal storage, the humble stew pack will sell to the great unwashed. Perhaps your neck of the woods has just become too gentrified.

  5. I’ve made these so many times over the last few years! I hadn’t realised how much the prices had increased, though.

  6. I am about two minutes in. The cumin has been replaced with paprika, because we’re moving and I can’t find the cumin. The kidney beans have been replaced by chickpeas, because I can’t find the damn kidney beans. I’m going rapidly off the rails here but tbh I imagine it should still be quite good.

  7. I am planning on cooking this dish. I’m glad you are going over the older recipes, as it simplifies the decision process of what to prepare. The sausage dish looks great also and the kidney bean cumin carrot soup too.

  8. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe. I think I’ll prefer the kidney beans to the usual minced beef in burgers. (My children also keep asking for them). Unless you can afford really good quality steak mince from the butchers, it seems to have no flavour.

    We also now replace beef with adzuki beans in cottage pie, or for the lamb in shepherd’s pie. These little red beans have such flavour.

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