Lamb meatballs in curry sauce for the win.
Today I bring you lamb kofta kari, a dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is spicy, tasty, rich and oh so easy to make. Better yet, it can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer. I absolutely love it when a dish has multiple personalities, don’t you? Kofta Kari or kofta curry is a traditional meat dish of Northern India and Pakistan according to my dear former classmate from Pakistan. Although this dish calls for lamb, feel free to use beef or turkey. Remember, a recipe is just a suggestion!
You can serve lamb kofta with basmati rice or plain white rice.
Naan can also be used as an alternative to rice. As with many Indian curry dishes yogurt is often served on the side to tame the heat of spices like cayenne. My recipe contains a surprise ingredient, not a secret ingredient, just clarifying.
What is it? Cashews! Really? Yes, really!
Cashews are ground to a paste and added to the sauce giving an earthy element of interest. Another uncommon spice in this dish is fenugreek. This is an herb whose origins go back to ancient times when it was used for multiple medicinal purposes. You can often find fenugreek in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I buy it in seed form and then grind it with an old coffee grinder.
The word kofta means meatball in Hindi and kari is the Tamil word for curry.
Back in the 1700’s, the British East India Company while trading with the southeastern coast of India came across this mixture of spices. They anglicized the term, and so it became curry. By the way, in case you were not aware, curry is a mixture of spices and not a spice itself. Degrees of intensity and spices in the mix varies, and most houses in India have their own curry recipe. I once taught a curry making workshop to high school students. At the end of the class we enjoyed a dish of samosas. It was great fun!
Now, one of my pet peeves is having uneven meatballs. Here I go again!
Years ago, at a home party, I purchased a great gadget (scoop) that allows me to make perfect and uniform meatballs every time. I now actually have 3: small, medium and large. Yes, I am a control freak, what can I say? I want my lamb kofta or any other meatball I make to be perfect, always!!!
How to make lamb kofta kari step by step:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Mix the salt, cumin, fenugreek, garlic powder and ground ginger into the garbanzo flour. Mix this by hand into the ground lamb until thoroughly combined. Work in the beaten egg by hand next.
- Using a scooper, form round balls and place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. The lamb kofta does not need to be completely cooked, they will finish cooking in the sauce. (Tip: If you want to keep frozen meatballs on hand for later, bake until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F, allow to cool then freeze in containers. These will keep for 3-4 months if properly stored. Thaw them completely before completing the steps below to make the curry sauce.)
- In a large braising pan or Dutch oven on medium heat sauté the onions, jalapeño and garlic until the onions are translucent.
- Add the diced tomatoes and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon after they are soft.
- Place the cashews and 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a small food processor and grind into a chunky paste.
- Add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, ginger, curry, cayenne and cashew paste to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Add the lamb kofta to the pan and allow to thicken for about 10-15 minutes on low heat. Stir to coat the meatballs.
- Add the garam masala.
- Slowly add the yogurt and stir while adding.
- Add the cilantro and a dash of allspice, stir in and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
- You can add a little more cilantro on top as a garnish when ready to serve.
BTW… I am going to a party tonight and guess what I am taking? Yup, lamb kofta kari. I am anxious to see how they go over.
If you are interested in some other tasty ethnic recipes here are a few of my favorites that are easy to make. Authentic Mexican pork carnitas is a wonderful slow cooker recipe that will feed a crowd and you can make tacos, nachos or even sliders. If you want to try an absolutely fabulous dessert that is easy to make and looks stunning, then you have to make this French patisserie fruit tart. This has a super simple crunchy short crust pastry filled with a vanilla cream and topped with fresh fruit. Moroccan chicken tagine is another simple recipe that you can prepare in a slow cooker that has amazing exotic flavor and is so easy to prepare. Leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you about your cooking adventures!
Here is a spicy lamb recipe for Kofta Kari, a dish from the Indian subcontinent. It is spicy, tasty, rich and oh so easy to make. Better yet, it can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer.
For the meatballs:
For the curry sauce:
- 1 onion medium, chopped
- 1 jalapeno large, minced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp curry mild
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 Tbsp garam masala
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 6 Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1/3 cup cashews ground into a paste*
- 1 cup plain yogurt + 2 Tbsp. for thickening (paleo diet: coconut milk yogurt)
- 1 dash allspice
* Place cashews in a small food processor with about 1 Tbsp olive oil. Grind thoroughly until a chunky paste is formed.
Make the Lamb Kofta:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
- For the meatballs: Mix the spices into the garbanzo bean flour. Add to the meat and mix thoroughly. Add the egg and combine into the meat mixture. If you have a medium cookie scooper, form balls and place on a large Pyrex dish. Bake for about 15 minutes in the oven. You don't have to cook the meatballs all the way through since the meatballs will finish cooking in the curry sauce.
Make the Curry Sauce:
In a Dutch oven on medium heat saute the onions, jalapeno and garlic in the oil until onions are translucent. Add the Roma tomatoes and allow this to simmer for about 20 minutes while breaking down with a wooden spoon. While simmering you can make the cashew paste.
Add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, ginger, curry and cayenne.
Add the cashew paste and stir well until mixed in.
Add the meatballs to the sauce.
- Allow the sauce to thicken for about 10-15 minutes on low heat.
- Add the garam masala. Stir and slowly add the 2 Tbsp. of yogurt stirring until it is all mixed in.
Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add dash of allspice. Add the cilantro.
- Serve hot over rice or with naan bread and yogurt on the side.
Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can make this a day ahead and reheat covered in an oven proof dish for about 20-30 minutes at 300° F. The temperature of the food should hit 165° F.
Q: Can I freeze this dish?
A: This would not be a good dish to freeze and reheat later as the dairy in the sauce would split and ruin the texture. You can store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and reheat in the microwave or oven as mentioned above. You can make a large batch of the lamb kofta meatballs and freeze them to have on hand. Fully thaw the lamb kofta before adding to the curry sauce.