Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Mixed Vegetable Kofta Curry

Not all first attempts are always successful - but they do make for  good learning and great stories. My first attempt at this kofta curry has such a story behind it. I followed the instructions I had gotten for this recipe to the 't'. And when I was about to turn off the gas I tasted a bit of it as usual, and it tasted, well, not so good!

Mixed Vegetable Kofta Curry

So I was wondering what was it that I had missed? The first thing I adjusted was my usual - the salt - which I always end up putting too less of in a dish. And in adjusting it I got overexcited and put a bit too much of it. But thanks to plain parathas and rice, it was okay at the end. The second thing I learnt about this dish which is very important to this dish was not frying the koftas till they become crispy. This is because by the time you put them in the curry to cook they will go too dry and harden.

For those who are not aware of this dish, kofta curry is a delicious main course dish from North India, specifically Punjab. It is made of fried balls of vegetables such as bottle gourd, cabbage, carrots etc with gram flour, or minced meat balls served in a rich onion-tomato gravy cooked with spices.With these in mind, here is the recipe for this beautiful, rich dish.

Mixed Vegetable Kofta Curry

Mixed Vegetables Kofta Curry

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4


For the Koftas

1/2 cup grated cabbage (patta gobhi)
1/2 cup grated bottle gourd (lauki/ ghia)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsps garam masala
1 cup gram flour (besan)
2 tbps water for binding
Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

For the Gravy

2 tsps oil
2 tsps ginger-garlic paste
3 medium sized onions pureed in a mixer
3 medium sized tomatoes pureed in a mixer
1 tsp turmeric
3 tsps red chilly powder
4 tsps garam masala powder
1 cup water
Salt to taste

For Garnishing

Fresh corriander leaves/ stalks




Put the oil in a deep pan for heating to ready it for deep frying.

Mix together the grated vegetables. Sprinkle all the dried powder spices - turmeric, red chilly powder, garam masala and a little salt on these and mix it evenly with the vegetables with your fingers.

In a couple of minutes, the vegetables will start releasing their water. Now add the gram flour (besan) and using the water released bind the flour together. Add a little water if necessary. The flour should be moist enough to be able to be binded together into balls.

Make about 12 balls of 1-11/2 inch diameter from this mixture.

Check if the oil is hot enough for frying by putting in a little bit of the gram flour-vegetable mixture. If it rises immediately, the oil is hot enough.

Lower the heat and fry the balls in the oil on low heat till they turn a little reddish brown. Do not increase the heat or make them too golden and crispy as they will harden.

Kofta Curry with the Gravy

Mixed Vegetable Koftas in the Gravy

In a deep frying pan, heat the 2 tbsps oil. Add in the ginger-garlic paste and fry for about 30-40 seconds.

Add in the pureed onions, lower the heat to a medium high and fry them for about 8-10 minutes till the onions lose their raw smell and turn pinkish-red. They will also start releasing their oil when they start to cook. Don't keep the heat too high, it will not speeden the process, just lead to uneven cooking of the onion puree, with parts staying raw and parts almost burning.

To the cooked onions add the pureed tomatoes. Fry them on the medium high flame for about 4-5 minutes. The tomatoes need to cook through well otherwise they will leave a raw sour flavour in the dish that will just taste weird. So cook it for a couple of minutes longer if you have any doubts- you can't overcook them but you can definitely undercook them!

Add the dried spices - turmeric powder, red chilly powder, garam masala powder and cook on a medium high flame till the mixture starts releasing the oil. I have often heard this being called 'masale khilna' (blooming of the spices) or 'masale khulna' (opening up of the spices) in Hindi. This will take about 5 minutes on the medium high flame.

Add  the water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.

Lower the flame to a simmer, add in the koftas and mix well till the koftas are covered with the gravy. cover the pan and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add salt to taste (and not too much like me!).

Garnish with fresh corriander and serve with your favourite parathas, naans, steamed rice or jeera rice.