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kofta-meatballs

Koftas were introduced in South Asia following the Turkic conquestes in the region.  Koftas in South Asian cuisine are normally cooked in a spiced gravy, or curry, and sometimes simmered with hard-boiled eggs.  Kofta dishes are very popular with immigrants from South Asia to the UK, and are widely available from many South Asian restaurants.

Koftas are primarily made in countries located in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean; countries such as:  Marocco, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Greece & Cyprus, where the kofta is usually fried and eaten with tzatziki or yoghurt.  Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Balkans.  According to a 2005 study there were 291 different kinds of kofta produced in Turkey alone!  In the Arab world, ‘kufta’ is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders – which is my favorite, especially when grilled over charcoal on the BBQ and served with salad or the spicy sauce included in this recipe.

You can use this recipe for either the ‘skewered’ or ‘meatball’ versions.  I find it best to make the Kofta meat mixture 24 hours in advance and leave it covered with cling film in the chiller overnight.  This helps to firm up the mixture and aids when you shape the mix around skewers, if using.

Ingredients for the kofta mixture

  • 1 x medium onion – peeled & halved
  • 2 x fat green chillies – stalk removed & split lengthways (remove seeds if you wish)
  • 3 x large cloves of garlic – peeled
  • 1 x thumb sized piece of root ginger – peeled & cut into coin shapes
  • 2 tsp garam masala – see TMX Basic Cook Book
  • 1 tsp Maldon salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 500g minced lamb – lean
  • 3 tbsp coriander – finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp rape seed oil – for frying

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Kofta Preparation

Place the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, garam masala, salt, chilli, tomato purée & black pepper into the mixing bowl.  Blend the ingredients into a smooth paste 5 seconds/Speed 5.  Scrape down the bowl with a silicone spatula and chop again 5 seconds/Speed 3-4, scrape down and do this again until you have a paste.

Add the minced lamb and blend together with the spice paste 30 seconds/Reverse Speed 3 or until the paste is evenly mixed into the minced lamb.

Turn out the spiced lamb into a clean mixing bowl and mix in the finely chopped coriander by hand.

Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight. This allows the mixture to firm up and the lamb will take on board all those beautiful spices.

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Ingredients for the sauce

  • 3 tbsp vegetable ghee
  • 2 medium onions – peeled & halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic – peeled
  • 1 x thumb sized piece of root ginger – peeled & cut into coin shapes
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala (see TMX Basic Cook Book)
  • 4 x large, ripe vine tomatoes – chopped into 1cm pieces)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp Maldon salt
  • 1/2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 350g lamb stock (vegetable or chicken work well)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x cinnamon stick
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • fresh coriander – roughly chopped

For the sauce

Place the onion, garlic and ginger into your mixing bowl and chop for 5 seconds/Speed 5. Scrape down with a silicone spatula and add the vegetable ghee and sweat for 10 mins/110oC/Speed 1.  Avoiding the blade, add the chilli powder, garam masala and cook 30 seconds/100oC/Speed 1.

Add the chopped vine tomatoes and cook 5 minutes/100oC/Reverse Speed 1.  Add the tomato purée and sprinkle over the salt and sugar before adding the stock.  Add the black pepper, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and simmer 20 minutes/98oC/Reverse Speed 1.

To finish the sauce, using a pair of kitchen tongs, remove and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, .  Replace the lid and MC and purée the sauce for 20 seconds/Speed 8 or until the sauce is nice and smooth.  Pour the sauce out into a suitable sized saucepan if using immediately, or into a clean bowl and allow to cool thoroughly before covering with cling film and refrigerating ready for use. If using a TM31,  make sure that you increase the speed slowly up to Speed 8.

Meatballs

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To make the meatballs, remove the mixture from your fridge and turn out onto a clean work surface or chopping board.  Shape into a brick and cut in half across the middle, cut each piece in half again and continue to do this until you have 24 pieces ready for shaping.  Using ‘cupped’ hands, shape each piece into a ball, about the size of a walnut. Place a large, heavy based frying pan over a medium flame and drizzle the rape seed oil and add half of the meat balls and fry until nicely browned, then place onto some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.  Add the remaining meatballs and fry as above.

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Add the sauce to a suitable sized pan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Carefully add the meatballs and stir gently so they are coated with the sauce.  Cook, uncovered, for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring and turning the meatballs two or three times while cooking. The sauce will reduce, thicken and concentrate in flavour during cooking.  If your sauce reduces too much, then add a little more water and stir well.

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Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Serve the meatballs with pasta or rice, top with home made yoghurt or tzatziki and sprinkle over the chopped fresh coriander.

Malcy tips:-

  1. To make a healthier version, you can steam the meatballs in your Varoma.
  2. If making the skewer version, then use flat bladed metal skewers or flat bamboo skewers.  If you use rounded ones, the shaped meat will just rotate when you turn it while cooking.  You will get 6 – 8 medium sized skewers from the above recipe.
  3. Serve with some home made yoghurt or tzatziki
  4. Be careful if using shop bought Garam Masala – some have a very dense ‘clove’ flavour which can spoil this dish.
  5. Good quality tinned chopped tomatoes can be used in place of the vine tomatoes.
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