This Kofta Curry recipe is an easy version of the popular Pakistani meatball curry. Succulent, juicy meatballs made with ground meat are individually fried and then immersed in a spicy curry. One of my personal favorites, I just had to find an easier and healthier way of making them!
Kofta is a term used for meat that has been pounded and ground. In Pakistani Cuisine it is used to refer to meatballs cooked and served in a fragrant curry. Although it is not clearly known who made the first meatball, per dawn.com it is widely believed that the origin lies in Persian and Arabic Cuisine.
I've often wondered what the difference between a Kebab and Kofta is as both are made of ground meat and why my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant calls its kebab a Kafta Kebab. Now I understand that the menu is simply describing a kebab that is made of ground or pounded beef.
In Pakistan we refer to a kebab as anything made of ground meat. It's usually served dry with a side of salad, chutney and naan. Whereas Kofta is prepared as a dish of meatballs cooked in a curry. There are many different types of Kofta Curries popular in South Asian Cuisine; Malai kofta, Vegetable kofta and Nargisi kofta to name a few.
The Koftas (Meatballs)
The first step is to make the koftas or meatballs. Although most traditional recipes call for frying the meatballs, I usually bake mine. I follow up with a quick broil to get the nice brown color that I normally would with frying . This method of cooking is much quicker and a lot healthier. The meat itself has a considerable amount of fat as does the curry the meatballs sit in.
The first step is to roast the gram flour as pictured below. This gives the Koftas a nice nutty taste as well as helping to bind them together. The poppy seeds also act as a binding agent and add a similar nutty taste. However, unlike the gram flour they're soaked in water versus being roasted. This helps plump and soften them, making it easier to grind them to a paste.
After this, the rest is really easy, as everything else is simply put through a food processor as pictured below and mixed in with the ground meat.
I usually let the meat sit for about half an hour so the spices can blend in and marinate it. Then I shape it into the meatballs and bake as instructed.
I usually make a large batch of the meatballs and freeze them after baking and broiling. I then defrost them and add them to the prepared curry as needed. This saves time during a busy weekday and is also a great way to prep ahead of time for when you're planning on hosting guests.
If you're in a hurry there's a tip I learnt from my mother and trust me it works really well! You can use 2 slices of bread instead of the gram flour and poppy seeds to help bind and soften the koftas. You won't get the nutty taste but the koftas will be pretty good. I usually revert to using the bread when I make the Koftas for my family. When I make them for a more formal gathering I usually use the more complicated and authentic reicpe.
The second step in the process is to make the curry, which is a little trickier than most other meat based curries. Since we can't saute the meatballs in the curry at the end, as we do other types of meat, as they would break apart. As such, we have to have the curry cook entirely on it's own and be the perfect consistency by the time we add the koftas.
The golden rule of the kofta curry recipe is to take your time, the entire essence of the dish being in the slow cooking process. Since I can't roast the ingredients at the end, I start off with grinding them in my food processor so that my curry has a uniform density.
Some Good Menu Pairings
These are a few of my favorites from the blog to pair with the Kofta Curry:
Kofta Curry Recipe
- 1 lbs ground beef
- ½ onion
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp ginger
- ½ tsp garlic
- 1 green chillies
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- 3 tbsp gram flour
- ½ cup cilantro
- ⅛ cup cooking oil
- 1 onions
- 1 tsps garlic
- 1 tsps ginger
- 2 tomatoes
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsps red chili powder
- 1 tsps coriander powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 green chilies
- ⅛ cup cilantro
- Preheat the oven to 400°
- Dry roast the chickpea flour in a frying pan and set aside.
- Soak the poppy seeds in some water for an hour.
- Put the onion, green chilies and cilantro in a food processor and grind to a paste.
- Mix the ground beef, roasted chickpea flour, poppy seeds (after straining and discarding the water) and all of the other ingredients and mix well.
- Shape the mixture into meatballs
- and place on baking tray.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Broil for 5 minutes to brown a bit.
- Heat cooking oil
- Dice onions and saute till dark brown
- Add garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute
- Grind the tomatoes in a food processor and add to the pot and fry for 10-15 minutes
- Add the yogurt, a few tablespoons at a time and cook till water evaporates before adding more. By the end of the process you should have a paste like consistency.
- Add the remaining spices and 1 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Uncover and turn the flame on full to dry out all the water
- Once the water evaporates, add the frozen prepared koftas and stir fry for 5 minutes (No Longer)
- Then add 2 cups of water and simmer 15-20 minutes.
- Uncover and cook till about ½ cup of the water evaporates and the oil separates.
- Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve.