As a kid, I don’t remember ordering anything other than malai kofta when we went out to eat at restaurants. I love koftas – any kind. When I first saw meatballs in spaghetti at a subway in the US, they reminded me of the Indian kofta. That is something I want to try some day – vegetarian ‘meatballs’ – Italian style. Then I chanced to see another version of kofta at a mediterranian restaurant here. Again, just ‘see’ because I couldn’t eat them being vegetarian. It was interesting to see new variations of my old favourite. New variations? Apparently not! Indian koftas’ Middle Eastern counterparts are the originals.
Originally Persian, Kofta, köfte, kafta, kufta or kafteh are quite a tradition throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. I presume it travelled to India with the Mughals.
Interesting facts listed at wikipedia:
In Arab countries, kufta’ (كفته) is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
In Turkey, köfte is a very popular food item. According to recent research done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of köfte in the country. phew!
In Bulgaria, they are called kyufteta (кюфтета)
In Greece, they are called keftedes.
In Romania, they are called chiftele
In Armenia, they are called kyufta
In Albania, they are called qoftë
I think I will stick to calling my version a kofta. I made this one with doodhi (Lauki).
What you need:
For the kofta:
Doodhi grated – 3 cups
Ginger (grated) – 1 tbsp
Green chillies – 2-3 nos
Ajwain (omam) – 1/4 tsp
Besan (Chick-pea flour) – 3/4 cup
Baking soda – a small pinch
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
For the gravy:
Onions – 3 medium sized
Garlic – 2 cloves
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
Tomatoes – 1 large
Cashew nuts – 1/4 cup
Khus Khus – 2 tbsp
Crumbled Paneer / Ricotta cheese – 1/4 cup
Bayleaves – 2 nos
Cinnamon stick – 1 medium
Cloves – 2-3 nos
Jeera – 1 tsp
Jeera pwd – 2 tsp
Nutmeg pwd – 1/8 tsp
Atta – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp or according to taste
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro to garnish
I guess that is it. The list is quite long, but most ingredients are always available in your pantry.
Grate the doodhi, sprinkle some salt on it and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Now, squeeze out all the water, add rest of the ingredients for the kofta and make a dough soft enough to shape the koftas. Remember, the doodhi will still have some water content, so add water if required only after mixing the ingredients. Shape the koftas as desired and fry them in oil till golden brown. Set aside on paper towels to drain excess oil.
For the gravy, Heat up the pan and dry roast the atta till the raw smell goes. Set aside. Heat up 1 tbsp of oil and add jeera, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add coarsely chopped onions and saute till transparent. add the garlic and ginger and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Swith off the stove and let cool. Grind this with the tomato, cashewnut and khus khus with minimum water. Now, heat up the remaining 1 tbsp oil and add the bay leaves. Add the gravy, turmeric, jeera pwd, nutmeg pwd, salt and chilli pwd. Let this cook for about 15 – 20 minutes till the masala is cooked and you see tiny spots of oil on the surface. Not too much oil will float since the input was minimal. For a more restaurant style look, increase the amount of oil. Once cooked, add the paneer or ricotta cheese. Curd could also be substituted. Add the koftas and garnish with cilanto and cream (optional). Serve hot with naan, parathas or rotis.
I was not sure if this recipe was appropriate for the Middle Eastern theme. Though koftas are originally Middle Eastern, my recipe is quite Indian. Meeta has generously accepted my entry. Thanks Meeta for letting me in and thanks Asha for suggesting that I send it to the event.