Today I bring you 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 is a traditional meat dish of Northern India and Pakistan according to my dear former classmate and friend who happens to be from Pakistan. Although this dish calls for lamb, feel free to use beef or turkey. Remember, a recipe is just a suggestion!
If served as a main dish, you can serve kofta kari with basmati rice or plain white rice if you prefer. 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 I have set aside for just spice grinding.
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 kofta kari or any other meatball I make to be perfect, always!!!
BTW… I am going to a party tonight and guess what I am taking? Yup, kofta kari. I am anxious to see how they go over.
- For the meatballs:
- 1½ lbs. ground lamb or beef (paleo diet: lean meat)
- 1 tsp. salt (paleo diet: sea salt)
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. fenugreek
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 heaping Tbsp. garbanzo bean flour (paleo diet: coconut flour)
- 1 egg beaten
- For the curry sauce
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 large jalapeno minced
- 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 Tbsp. mild curry
- ¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ Tbsp. garam masala
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 6 Roma tomatoes diced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
- ⅓ cup of cashews ground to a paste*
- 1 cup plain yogurt + 2 Tbsp. for thickening (paleo diet: coconut milk yogurt)
- dash of allspice
- * place cashews in a small food processor with about 1 Tbsp. oil. Grind thoroughly until a chunky paste is formed.
- Preheat oven to 350:
- 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.
- For 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.
- Add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, ginger, curry and cayenne. Add the meatballs.
- 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.
- Add the cashew paste and stir well until mixed in. Add the cilantro.
- Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add dash of allspice
- Serve hot over rice or with naan bread and yogurt on the side.