Given a choice,I prefer brothy, spice laden curries over the thick,sweetish,creamy ones.I like to sip the spiced broth which hits the back of tongue.Spices which do a happy dance in your mouth and leave behind a “gimme me more” feeling.There is something really addictive about spice blends unadulterated by sugar & cream.You start eating, and you don’t want to stop.There’s a rush of signals to the brain wanting you to have more of it.I have experienced this kind of feeling especially with fiery curries as the one I m sharing in this post.With P,it’s the opposite.For him, the creamier the better.He prefers spices in a creamy base,preparations which give him a rich, full feeling after the meal.Not that he doesn’t like, in fact I have hardly seen him not enjoying any kind of indian food but he is little partial towards the creamy ones.At home,we have struck a deal now.We alternate “his” & “my” kind of curry preparations.Its a win win situation for both of us.
Anyhow,the very sound of this dish reminds me of the bylanes of Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi where they the little eateries run by muslims chefs by the road side serve it with tandoori roti, warm ghee cumin rice & pickled onions.The koftas keep on simmering in a big metal handi[pot] with aromatic steam trying to escape from the sides of the lid.Me and P used to throng that place quite often before marriage.That area in Old Delhi is house to the world-famous Moti Mahal & Karim restaurants.But the sheer joy of eating at those streets is unmatched in front of these decadent places.The hustle-bustle of people, the narrow lanes, the rattling of vendors, everyone seems to be in a hurry during evening hours.But you wanna stop to relish the foods there. The aroma of spices mixed with the incense burning in those eateries was enticing.Sitting on an old, depleted wooden bench, dunking roti into the warm, spicy gravy served in a plain china dish,eating with hands and licking the fingers thereafter.No cutlery,no napkins..simple yet blissful moments of life.Ah,I miss those times.
This is my mom’s recipe who recreates it closest to the Old Delhi taste.One of my dad’s favorite things to eat,this was our supper almost every Saturday.There are two things which give this curry the “fiery ” element.First of all is the use of mustard oil.Now, if you have been reading my blog, you would have noticed that I innately use it in my cooking.Mustard oil, of course produced from mustard seeds has a pungent taste & a sinus irritating aroma similar to wasabi or horseradish.Its an acquired taste and can be very addictive.I cant imagine my kitchen without it.The second thing is the green chilies which make their way into the balls and the red chilli powder in the gravy.Yes, its the double amount of chillies.Though you can drop the ones in the mince if you want.
“Kofta” is a term used for balls made out of minced vegetables or meat.If you like spicy, curries, this is just the one for you.It will take you to a virtual trip to those bylanes of Old Delhi.Succulent balls of mutton in a onion-sour yogurt base curry.I normally do not like to add tomatoes to red meat preparations,you can if you want.Try the recipe with minced lamb,beef or chicken and keep on adjusting the cooking time accordingly.Another thing I highly recommend is making this curry at least 4-5 hours in advance of your eating time, the longer the balls sit in the gravy, the tastier they get.Make sure to prepare extra because left overs taste AMAZING!Below goes the recipe, see the notes at the end:-
Mutton Kofta Curry [Serves 3-4]
For the Koftas or Meatballs: [Makes about 25 balls of the size shown]
1 lb ground mutton/lamb/beef/chicken [I use lean mince]
3 fat garlic cloves, grated
1″ fresh ginger shoot, grated
2 Thai green chillies, chopped finely
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold plain yogurt [slightly sour] to dip the koftas
For the Curry Sauce:
1/2 cup thick onion paste
1 fat garlic clove, grated
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder [If available else substitute with cayenne]
1.5 tsp red chilli powder /cayenne [Adjust to taste]
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
3 tbsp mustard oil [substitute with any oil of choice]
1 tsp cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
1″ cinnamon stick
4 pods green cardamom, break open
Required - A wide, heavy bottomed pot with lid big enough to layer the koftas in a single layer without having to stack on top of each other.
Making the Koftas/Meatballs:-
Mix all the ingredients listed for the koftas except yogurt.Grease your palms & make medium balls of the mixture.I prefer to keep the size little.Do not make very big balls because the koftas swell while cooking.
Line the Koftas on a plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours[Very imp step, do not miss]
Add 3-4 tbsp of water to the yogurt and thin it out if required.Keep refrigerated until you begin cooking.
Making the curry sauce:
In the pot, heat the oil on high heat.Once the oil is smoking, reduce the heat to medium.It is important to cook mustard oil to smoky point at the start of cooking to do away with the raw smell.
Add the onion paste along with the whole spices and cook on medium heat till golden brown in color.
Next,add the grated garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.Next add coriander, turmeric , chilli powders, salt and cook the spice mix on medium heat till you see oil separating at the sides of the pot.About 8-10 minutes.
At this point add 1.5 -2 cups of water to the pot, stir well cover with lid and let the gravy come to a boil on high heat.
Once the gravy is boiling,lower the heat to the minimum possible on your stove.Take out the refrigerated koftas, dip them in cold ,thinned out yogurt one at a time and start tipping to the pot.Do not stack the koftas on top of each other, and do not overcrowd the pot because they will swell up as they cook.
After you have added all the koftas to the pot, add the yogurt [if remaining] to the pot too.Check the seasoning of the gravy at this point and adjust salt.
Cover the pot and let simmer.It takes about 20-25 minutes for the koftas to be fully cooked.Do not increase the flame/heat else the yogurt will cuddle.While they are simmering, you will need to come in between and gently stir the contents for even cooking,either stir using the handle of the pot or cover with lid,lift the pot wearing gloves in your hands and move the pot.Preferably, do not use spatula or spoon.
To check the doneness of the koftas- Take one out and cut it into half, if you see pink inside,more cooking is required.I usually cook the koftas totally, if you like rare or medium rare, adjust the cooking time.
At the end of cooking, you will see that the oil is floating on top of the pot & the gravy has thickened slightly.Adjust the consistency of the gravy at this point.If you are adding water, you will have to simmer the diluted gravy for extra 5 minutes.
Let the koftas rest for about 2-3 hours in the gravy for them to absorb flavors.I make them in the early to be eaten for dinner.The more they rest the more the flavor.
Serve warm with roti or cumin rice.
Test a single kofta first in the boiling gravy to make sure that it’s not spreading or crumbling away..In that case u need to add a binder [egg or cornstarch or flour] to the mix.I didnt need any.
Take care not to overcook the koftas, they become hard.