Anything But Turkey: Burgers, Hummus, and Spice

We have all had our fill of poultry especially the Thanksgiving turkey variety. If you haven’t, then there are probably still leftovers in the back of the fridge that you can help yourself to.  And then, you can go out and try something a little different.  How about a “sous vide” style steamed burger finished on the griddle?  Care for a tasty bowl slathered with freshly made hummus and filled with delectable roasted mushrooms, or tasty cubes of lamb?  Would you take a quick trip to Indonesia for some uniquely spiced eggplant, beef and crêpes at the shipyard? Here are just a few non-Thanksgiving style meals to enjoy as you recover from the last holiday and prepare for the next one. As always, all opinions big and small are my own, for this post, I was an invited guest at Beta Burger and Tahaza.


In Mission Hill you can trade your mashed potatoes for seasoned fries (shaken not stirred).  Beta Burger is a sleek little spot just across from the Roxbury Crossing T station. On the wall is a completely menu to doctor up your burger to your taste, even though the burger itself holds its own.  With a choice of everything from cheese and sauces to lettuce (no iceberg here), raw onions, caramelized onions, sautéed oyster mushrooms, coleslaw (New England style), and smoked bacon, you could have a burger every week in December and not get bored.  This burger is designed to please the thick burger lover and the thin patty seeker.  It isn’t too puffed up and rounded or too flat and floppy, and it’s not dry because it’s cooked in a c-Vap machine then finished on the griddle.  Neither greasy nor dry, this Beta Burger seems more 2.0 than beta.  It can be made on a potato roll (yes please), a thin sandwich roll (at 6 calories a pop) or wheat roll.  Sauces include a house made steak sauce that packs  a punch of flavour.  If you’re not too wiped out from all that DIY on the burger end of things, then you can move on to the fries.  Fries are frozen (let’s not deny that they always turn out the best!) and you can get them with a spice packet that you then shake in a bag to coat the fries.  I highly recommend the salt and vinegar.

From patties to pitas, let’s move across the river to Cambridge where you can shop until you drop at the Cambridgeside Galleria and then pop outside for a little lunch in the oasis known as Tahaza.

Hummus is a staple in our house, but the grocery store variety has lost its appeal to me, especially now that many of them have added guar gum which I seem to have an allergic reaction to. In college, I used to make it every week for cucumber sandwiches. Hummus and cucumber are a match made in heaven.  Recently, my love for homemade hummus was renewed and I didn’t even have to make it myself.

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I know what you’re thinking.  This doesn’t look like hummus!  Hummus is only part of the story at Tahaza.  This is their salad.  It starts with hummus slathered around the bowl, and a choice of greens.  I added some of their incredibly delicious medley of mushrooms, olives, cumin pickled carrots, baked pita chips and had a little taste of the lamb with chickpeas.  I could eat this every day especially in between the feast of Thanksgiving, Chanukah’s nosh of latkes and sufganiyot and the sweets of Christmas.

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Tahaza makes everything fresh in house, except their pita bread which is a favourite of my daughter’s. Your grain bowl, hummus bowl or salad bowl can be topped off with a choice of sauces:  chili vinegar, spicy harissa, sriracha tahini, fresh mint yoghurt, or a lemon-mint vinaigrette.  Although the bowls are fresh and light, they are definitely hardy with a choice of shredded chicken, slow cooked beef, lamb with chickpeas, medley of mushrooms or a baked falafel rounding out the meal. Tahaza’s kid’s meal includes a mini bowl or a peanut butter and honey pita each served with milk or juice.  For grown ups who need their soda fix, there is another of our favorites, Maine Root at the soda fountain.

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The spices on the lamb at Tahaza were truly impressive and if the spice route is where you want to go post Thanksgiving, then a visit to Kaki Lima at KO Pies at the Shipyard is in order.  Open only on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5-9 p.m., Kaki Lima is a taste of Indonesia in East Boston.

I love visiting the Shipyard. It’s a bit of a hidden gem just beyond Piers Park in East Boston. A stroll down the pier before or after dinner is always nice and looking at Boston from across the water as the lights twinkle on the waves is breathtaking.

Kaki Lima’s menu is small but the flavours are not.  The menu is divided into small plates, a few main dish larger plates, and one dessert.  We ordered several small plates and the Rendang beef main dish as well.

I am very picky about eggplant but when it is done right I love it.  Often eggplant is too greasy, undercooked or slightly bitter.  This one is called Terong Banda.  It is a charred eggplant with a sauce made with macadamia, galangal, and coconut milk. I could have eaten the entire portion myself and the sauce was incredible. I think my favourite sauce though, was on the Somay Banding which are steamed dumplings. The potatoes we had make Thanksgiving mash a distant memory.  The heat and spice on the Sambal Goreng Kentang is a fried potatoes miracle. These potatoes roasted and slathered with what is definitely not your average samba were very filling as well. The Rendang is slow cooked beef with “too many spices to list” and instead of a muddy somewhat familiar mix of spices on beef you taste something completely new and different.  My mouth is watering as I think about this meal and all these new exciting flavours.

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So as you toss or freeze those last scraps of the Thanksgiving feast here are three great options for something completely different. Enjoy!

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