The word Kofta arises from the Persian word Koftan meaning to pound-ground as one does to make the meatball from ground meat. The word "rissole'' can be the English reference to what one is preparing.
While there are a variety of Koftas, from plain meatballs, to ones that are filled over a boiled egg or half of an egg to keep it smaller - called Nargisi Kofta. The Kashmiri Kofta is often sausage shaped and pan fried in oil infused with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves to add flavour. Koftas are served with yogurt, raita and naan. The Persian Koofteh Tabrizi with its dryfruit center filling also bares similarity.
I like to think that the Kofta curry is a marriage of Persian meets Indian cuisines. With umpteen kebobs and the various curries. While kebobs are grilled over a charcoal or not - these koftas are often cooked in the curry itself allowing them to be soft and supple, as they should be - melt in the mouth and silky cream like to taste. Delicately flavoured they are an absolute foodies delight. Alternately the koftas are pan fried and then immersed in the curry to absorb the flavours.
Growing up I only ever remember having the perfect kofta curry in my neighbours home in London. A family friend and an exceptional home cook with a heart of gold, she was a wonder in the kitchen despite of being rather elderly.. I may have been just a teenager then but I can still recall the textures and flavours. When I asked her she said, its always the ingredients. The meat and the malai- cream makes it special.
While I am unsure if she will find my recipe exacting, its the closest to hers I have been able to capture.
Traditionally beef is used but she used lamb and so have I. The curry one generally finds on any menu is a tomato based yogurt infused one. But I have prepared my own version of it in following my dream of getting it like hers.
|A malai kofta curry with saffron rice|
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 kg or 1 lb lamb or beef ground meat
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp cumin powder
8 tbsp milk powder or thick cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masalo
Mix this well and refrigerate for 30 minutes if you find it too soft to handle. Continue making 10 to 12 koftas- round balls. Pan fry each one on a medium flame until they are golden brown all over. Add 2 tbsp of hot water cover and steam cook for 10 minutes to allow it to remain soft.
3/4 cup sweet cashews
1 cup of tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes
2 green chillies
1 cup fried onion
6 full stalks of coriander
1 stalk fresh mint
1/2 tsp garam masalo
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
2 dry large red chillies or 1 tsp red chilli powder
Cook this in a pan for 10 minutes until the oils separate.
Add 2 cups of coconut milk, mix well and bring it to a boil. Add the koftas, cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Serve hot with white boiled rice, coconut rice, saffron rice or lemon rice.
Using milk powder helps it bind easily and yet once soaked into the curry the kofta remains soft and succulent.
Once the kofta is browned all over, cover the pan to allow it to steam cook. This allows it to cook and keep soft at the same time.
If you prefer a non nut based dish, use crushed sunflower seeds. Chestnut flour is also an alternate.
My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.
The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.
Photo Credit : Niloufer Mavalvala