Eating humble koftas

Soft and spicy meatballs in a tomato curry cooked with love and patience

koftaWe had an early burst of summer sunshine. I was ready with the accessory of the season – a short white jumpsuit complete with brass buttons acquired brand new on eBay.

All blingtastic, I was going to attend the lunchtime launch of Spooning with Rosie, my friend Rosie Lovell‘s book. The lovely Rosie runs a deli cafe in trendy Brixton. Vintage dresses and unshaven faces were going to rub shoulders amidst mounds of quality cheese, loafs of bread and stacks of her cupcakes.

The anticipation was immense as I dressed mini Basu in a co-ordinated romper. Rosie’s cookbook is a sensational tome brimming with eclectic recipes that nod to London’s vibrant cafe culture. That aside it featured my Bhapa Doi Bengali cheesecake recipe with a mention of yours truly.

Several glasses of wine and hours of mingling later, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into a semi-complicated recipe that matched the dizzying heights I had reached. It was going to be Kofta Curry, soft spicy meatballs in a tomato base.

I mixed the Kofta or meatballs before going to bed. Cooked the dish the following day. Scooped the finished lot into a bowl. Just in time for my hungry dad’s arrival. This experienced cook was not going to be easy to please. “So how is it”, I asked, waiting for the lavish praise.

“Delicious”, he replied. And just as I was about to mutter a thanks, he added: “You could have cooked the masala a bit more.”

Nothing like family to keep you grounded. Here’s the perfected recipe for when you want to show off. Best served with a pinch of humility.

PS = I made this with beef mince but you could just as easily substitute it with lamb.

Feeds 4:

For the kofta:

  • 500gm beef mince
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt

For the curry:

  • 1 large onion
  • 400gm tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Half tsp chilli powder
  • Half tsp garam masala
  • 10 sprigs fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Mix all the kofta ingredients together and stick in the fridge. It needs a good hour, but I did this before going to bed and left it in the fridge until I was ready to cook.

When you’re ready to make the curry, halve the mince mixture and fashion it into two large sausages. Then break off equal pieces and roll them into largish balls on a chopping board and leave to sit.

Chop the onion, ginger and garlic finely. Bring the oil to heat on high in a large non-stick pan. When it’s hot, chuck in the bay leaf and cinnamon. As they start sizzling, mix in the onion, ginger and garlic and fry until golden brown. This will take a good 10-15 minutes on a high heat.

If the mixture starts getting stuck to the bottom of the pan, add a little hot water and scrape off.

Next, add the paprika and chilli powders and fry for another two minutes. Then mix in the tin of tomatoes. You could use three large ripe and red chopped tomatoes if you prefer going fresh. Now let this masala mixture start bubbling, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

At this stage, oil will start oozing through little pores in the mixture. When it does, gently lower the koftas into the curry. Cook for 10 minutes and then flip them over to the other side for another 10 minutes.

Alternatively you could grill them for the same amount of time under a medium heat and mix them into the curry. Leave the curry bubbling, just add a bit of water if it dries up.

Finally, add the garam masala, salt to taste and sprinkle chopped coriander. This was lovely with a hot roti that I bought in a store earlier.

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    This entry was posted on Monday, June 8th, 2009 at 1:14 pm and is filed under Beef, Cooking to impress, Entertaining, Meat. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.