Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meatballs in Masala--Kofta Curry

It's great balls of fire!! Actually not so fiery. We don't do too well with a heavy hand of chile powder. In fact the last batch of chile powder I bought at the Indian grocery has been "aag baboola" or as we say in English, hotter than hell. I've had a few mishaps resulting in sweaty noses and mouths aflame. So I learn to temper, to sprinkle and finally to taste. Some people enjoy tasting as they cook. Not me. I like to put my face into the saucepan, inhaling spicy, sour, sweet bouquet. This is what gives me sense of seasoning. I recognize the heavenly fragrance of a completed dish. It just smells right.  

Back to the balls. Meatballs are a universal favorite. Kofta, kifta, kofte...whats in a name?Masala meat balls are a perennial hit. And I make them with green masala, with crisp fried onions and with a cream sauce. Sometimes koftas are an appetizer. Other times they are sides to a pullao and dal. Then I discovered this recipe in a treasure trove written by my Mum. With a lot of encouragement fronher children, she started writing recipes as way to pass time after Dad passed away. The kofta curry she claimed was one she used to make them when we were young. I claim no memory of this delicious dish. And I would've remembered something so good! Oh well...with age memories kind of blur ... So that's my only claim. But now I do make it often. The koftas are spice laden. The gravy gets its creaminess from coconut milk. Everyone likes it. What more can I say. 

 Makes 4 servings

1 pound Ground beef
1 small Onion
1/2 teaspoon Garlic paste
1/2 cup Cilantro 
2 green Chillies
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
A pinch of Turmeric
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1 Egg
1 slice Bread
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons Canola oil

Curry Masala
2 tablespoons Canola oil
2 large Onions
1 teaspoon Garlic paste
4 slices of Ginger
2 Tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam masala
1 14oz can Coconut Milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Cilantro to garnish 

Start with the koftas. 

Peel and finely chop the onion.

Chop cilantro finely.

Slit and slice the green chillies

Soak the slice of bread in water for 1 minute and then squeeze out the water.

Place ground beef, chopped onion, cilantro and green chillies, all the powder masalas, garlic paste, egg, soaked bread and seasonings in a bowl. Using your hands squish and mix well, making sure all ingredients come together evenly.

Take a tablespoon of meat mixture in your hand and roll into a ball. Do the same with the rest of the mixture. 

Heat canola oil in a nonstick saucepan. 

Add the koftas to hot oil and brown evenly on all sides, drain onto a paper towel and keep aside while you make the gravy.

Do the following for the curry.

Peel and chop onions into small dice.

Slice tomatoes thinly.

Heat oil in a saucepan.

Add onions to hot oil and sauté till golden brown.

Add garlic paste, ginger slices and tomatoes.

Add the spices too.

Sauté well till the tomatoes become pulpy and you can see oil oozing on the sides of the saucepan.

Pour the coconut milk in and mix thoroughly. Let the gravy come to a simmer.

Drop the koftas in and let the gravy come to a gentle boil. 

Let koftas cook for 10 minutes. 

Garnish with cilantro and serve with chapattis or rice.


I have used low fat coconut milk. The end result is not so creamy.

Turkey, lamb or pork can easily be substituted in place of beef.

The kofta curry reheats very tastefully the next day.

A spicy perfume fills the kitchen. It permeates the house and like a pied piper, draws occupants to the dinner table. Soft, creamy koftas are pierced with fingers and eaten with chapattis. I take a generous portion of rice and pour kofta curry onto the center and in true Indian style, set to it with curry covered fingers. I think of Mum. I think of the joy she gives me every time I make one of her recipes. I miss her so much. Then again the kofta curry reminds me she is always by my side.