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!
SWEET POTATO KOFTA CURRY
This recipe traditionally uses anardana which is a sticky spice made from the dried seeds and pulp of wild pomegranates. It is used to add a slightly sweet tartness to recipes. The sticky anardana is then further dried and finely ground to make anardana powder. Anar syrup is simply pomegranate syrup. Both of these unique items are usually available in any Indian grocery store but feel free to substitute lemon or lime juice.
FOR THE KOFTAS:
2 sweet potatoes (medium size)
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
2-3 small Thai green chilies, finely minced
4+ tbsp rice flour
2 tsp anardana powder (substitute with 1 tsp lemon or lime juice)
1 tsp ground cumin powder
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp soft paneer (or extra firm ricotta cheese, well drained)
oil for deep frying (vegetable or canola)
FOR THE CURRY:
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1.5” piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped and pureed
¼ cup of dry roasted unsalted cashews (or almonds), ground into a paste
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin powder
½ cup cream
1 tbsp anar syrup (optional)
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
TO MAKE THE KOFTAS:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, boil the sweet potatoes until just fork tender. Drain well and gently pat dry with a paper towel. When cool, peel and mash. Add the ginger, green chilies, cumin powder, salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Add the paneer and the anardana powder. Mix well to combine all of the ingredients. Slowly add the rice flour a little bit at a time until the mixture comes together and you are able to form small golf ball sized balls. It helps to refrigerate the sweet potato mixture for at least 30-45 minutes before forming the koftas (balls). In a large deep skillet (or wok) on medium high heat, add enough oil to shallow fry the koftas. 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 1 tbsp of the oil. When hot, add the onions. Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the ginger and garlic. Stir fry until golden brown, remove, let cool and puree into a thick paste using a blender or food processor.
In a large work or deep skillet on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onion puree along with the tomato puree and cashew paste. Stir and cook for a few minutes and then add the spices (salt, pepper, turmeric, red chili powder, ground cumin powder and garam masala). Stir and cook well. Add water as needed to make a curry of desired consistency. Carefully add the koftas into the curry, cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Finish with cream and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh rotis and Basmati rice.