I still remember vividly the first time I had a meat ball. It was during one of my summer vacations, when I went to stay with my parents in Saudi Arabia. Yeah, I was studying in a boarding school those days. Every vacation I used to fly back to Saudi to spend my vacations. In those days it was not so easy as these days. There were no direct flights, visa formalities were very long and tedious. So packing me and getting me on flight was a kind of celebrations at home. Thats a big story, which I will share with you some other time. Yeah so it was in one of those vacations when I was in 5th or 6th that I first tasted the meat balls curry. My maternal uncle and aunt was also in Saudi. I share with them a relationship so warmth and something special, every vacations I used to spent with them a week or so. My aunt and me shared a special bonding and friendship which is still intact and we pick up the thread as soon as we meet each other. My uncle and aunt spent their early years of life in England and that made my aunt, an expert in international cuisines. In honor of me, she made the meatball curry which was out of the world. I tried to recreate on several occasions that meat ball curry, but it never got successful and I dropped that idea of recreating it. That was long ago and was forgotten. We all moved forward with our life in a hectic way. They have grandchildren now and I have reached another mile stone in my life, becoming the mom of three wonderful teenagers who are my best friends now. May be next time when I meet her, i’ll ask her the secrets of that meat ball curry and share with you all the recipe. One thing I’m pretty damn sure, the base of the gravy was Tomatoes and thats the way its made in European countries. It was not at all Indian style.
The kofta recipe which I’m sharing with you all today is inspired by the great Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I was a fan of his in the early days of my married life. That was the time when Zee TV was launched and gaining prominence. There weren’t many famous Indian Chefs that also were TV personalities. His program Khana Khazana is one of the most viewed cookery shows of India and around the world. Since this art is inbuilt in me :), I never used to miss any shows of this genre. Thats how I got this recipe. I don’t remember exactly when I saw this show or the quantities and measurements. It was during the time when my second son was born. I think he was in my lap when i saw this, may be that was the reason why I couldn’t write it down. I tried it out immediately after seeing it and from then this dish has been a regular on my dining table. That was just koftas, making it scotched egg was my idea, even the spices and nuts, I did it in my way.
Koftas have also their origin and history. Kofta is a Middle Eastern and South Asian meatball or dumpling. The word kofta is derived from Persian kūfta: In Persian, kuftan means “to beat” or “to grind” or meatball. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls or fingers of minced or ground meat – usually beef or lamb – mixed with spices and/or onions. The vegetarian variety like lauki kofta, shahi aloo kofta, malaai kofta are popular in India. The meat is often mixed with other ingredients such as rice, bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a smooth paste. Koftas are sometimes made with fish or vegetables rather than meat, especially in India. They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce. Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, Asia and India. According to a 2005 study done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of kofta in Turkey, where it is very popular. In Arab countries, kufta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
Early recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks) generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized meatballs, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. Koftas in South Asian cuisine are normally cooked in a spicy curry and sometimes with whole pre-boiled eggs. Sometimes the eggs are encased in a layer of the spicy kofta meat so that the final product resembles an Indian Scotch egg. These kofta dishes are very popular with South Asian families and are widely available from many Indian restaurants. In West Bengal, India and Bangladesh, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.
There are a couple of things which I wanted to bring to your notice. Usually I go with chilli flakes, pepper or cayenne pepper when making kofta. Since these days, nobody at home prefers hot and spicy food I did not add any hot factor in this. I suggest you add some pepper and chilli flakes in the mince so that it does not taste bland. Since egg is stuffed and it is plain, better to make it a bit spicy. You can even add red chilli paste or hot sauce. Even the curry part, last time when I made the aromatic spices and other condiments were on slightly higher side and so reduced it this time but I prefer the heavy spiced one rather than the one I prepared this time. I felt it a bit blant compared to my usual recipe. I’m sharing the spiced flavoured one recipe here. If you feel thats a bit too much for you, you can reduce the quantities.
Make a paste of the ingredients except mince and almond flour.
In a large mixing bowl, take the mince, add the ground paste and salt and combine everything. Add the flour and egg and rework on the mixture till incorporated well.
Make into lemon sized balls and roll into patties. Place the boiled eggs and roll into balls.
Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown, drain and set aside.
Blanch the almonds in hot water for half an hour. Peel the skin. Combine all the nuts and make a thick smooth paste adding some water.
Heat a pan, add oil. When hot, pop in the whole spices along with red chilli. Let it crackle. Add cumin and caraway seeds. Give a quick stir.
Add in the ginger garlic paste. Saute till fragrant. Throw in the chopped tomatoes. Saute till simmering. Cook covered till tender and pulpy.
Add the chilli powder, garam masala powder and coconut milk powder. Stir fry for 5 minutes and add on the salt.
Add the nuts paste and combine everything till well incorporated and till it reaches boiling point. Add the water so that we get a loose gravy. and allow it to boil.
Stick the lid on and boil for 10 minutes so that all the flavors of the spices are infused in gravy. This should be done in medium low flame.
Heat another casserole and add the gravy by straining it through a sieve. Press out all the juice from the remains.
Stir and adjust salt now. Add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the flavor.
Simmer for another 10 minutes on low flame so that the gravy and its flavor is absorbed by the Kofta or meat balls.
Add the green slit chillies and a dollop of butter and give a mix. Let it boil for a couple of minutes.
Lower the flame to minimum. Add the cream. Mix well. Keep for two minutes.
Serve hot with Naan or Kulcha.