Koftas are delicious bite size Indian dumplings (vegetarian) or meatballs. They can be made from a variety of ingredients such as lamb, chicken, seafood, paneer or vegetables. They can be eaten as an appetizer, snack or side dish. Most often they are cooked in a spicy curry and served with naans or Basmati rice.
Koftas are most likely Middle Eastern or Persian in origin. They were introduced into Indian cuisine by the Mughals in the 16th century and remain a favorite among North Indians.
This is one of my favorite kofta recipes. I know they can labor intensive, so I recommend making a few extra and freezing them for a rainy day. That way, you can make the curry and just add the frozen koftas. Gently simmer, covered, for 8-10 minutes and they are ready to serve. This trick works great for those last minute dinner parties!
Moong dal flour is easily available at any Indian grocery store.
ZUCCHINI AND MOONG DAL KOFTA CURRY
For the koftas:
2 medium zucchinis, grated
2 shallots, finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, finely minced (to taste)
½ cup of cilantro leaves finely chopped
½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder (to taste)
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup moong dal flour (or you can use chickpea flour/gram flour/besan)
½ cup rice flour
oil for frying, canola or vegetable
For the curry:
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lemon or lime
4 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup of cream (or ½ cup good quality yogurt)
2 tbsp of oil, canola or vegetable
finely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
To make the KOFTAS:
Sprinkle the grated zucchini with a little salt, mix well and allow to drain in a colander atop another larger bowl for at least 30 minutes. Using a tea towel, gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Reserve the drained liquid. Finely mince the grated zucchini and set aside until needed.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the moong dal flour with the rice flour and add the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, red chili powder, salt and pepper). Mix well and add the zucchini, ginger, green chilies, shallots and cilantro leaves. In small increments, add enough water to form a thick batter.
In a large deep skillet or work on medium high heat, add enough oil to shallow fry. When hot, carefully add large tablespoonfuls of the batter. This may be done in batches but gently fry the koftas on all sides until they are golden brown. Drain well and set aside.
At this point, they can be served as appetizers with your favorite chutneys or sauces. Also, once they have cooled, you can freeze any extra koftas in an airtight plastic freezer bag or container.
To make the CURRY:
In a large deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil and when hot add the onions. Let fry for a few minutes until just lightly browned and then add the garlic. Stir fry and add the spices (ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, salt and pepper). Let the spices cook for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Next, add the lemon/lime juice and the reserved zucchini liquid. There should be enough liquid (about 1.5 cups, add water if needed). Cover, reduce the heat and let simmer 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly (10-15 minutes) and stir in the cream or yogurt. Carefully add the koftas and gently reheat on low. Let the koftas soak in the curry for 8-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with fresh rotis and fragrant Basmati rice.