Kofta Curry – Meatballs in a Spicy Coconut Gravy

Meat ball curry6

Spicy meatballs in a tantalizing gravy, is the best way I can describe this kofta curry. The koftas (meatballs) are full of flavor and the lightly spiced coconut curry takes it to a completely different level. The koftas can be made with minced beef, lamb or chicken.

You can make this dish well ahead of time as the koftas soak in the curry and just keep getting better. It is full of flavor and steals the show. So if you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser for your next party – this is it. Serve this kofta curry with rice, naan or puri.

Kofta Curry – Meatballs in a Spicy Coconut Gravy
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

For the meatballs:
2 pounds ground beef
6 green spring onions, roughly chopped
4 green chillies, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chilli flakes, (depending on heat and your preference)
Kosher salt

In a food processor finely chop green spring onion, chilli, cilantro, and garlic. In a large bowl add the ground beef, chilli flakes, and salt. Then add the finely chopped ingredients and mix until combined. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Makes 35 small balls, the size of lemons, and keep them on the tray. Refrigerate until ready to use in the curry.

For the ground spice mix:
3 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 dry red chillies
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1-inch piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 petals of star anise, (optional)
1 black cardamom

In a small pan, over low heat, roast the above ingredients until they smell fragrant. Cool completely. Remove the outer cover of the cardamom and use only the seeds. Put all the ingredients into a coffee grinder and powder.

For the curry:
3 tablespoons coconut/canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cup roughly chopped onions
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
1 cup finely diced tomatoes
2 cans coconut milk, (14 fl oz each)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
3 teaspoons lime juice

In a blender, grind onion, garlic, and ginger. Set aside

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add coconut oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the ground onion, garlic, and ginger. Fry until it turns light brown. Add the ground spices, turmeric, and Kashmiri chilli powder. Fry for two minutes and then add the tomatoes. Cook until they turn soft. Shake the cans of coconut milk well before you open them. Add coconut milk and salt and bring the curry to a simmer. If the coconut milk is thick, add half a cup of water. Gently add the meatballs, one by one. Let them cook for ten minutes. Then stir and let the meatballs simmer for another 10 minutes so they can cook completely. Turn off the heat and add lime juice.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice, naan or puri.

Sambar – Spicy Lentils with Drumstick


I have a large collection of sambar recipes, but I am sharing the one that I make most often. I like this recipe because it uses freshly roasted and ground sambar powder. You will find that making the sambar powder takes just a few minutes but the flavor it adds is well worth the effort.

The vegetables that I’ve added are drumstick, potatoes, and shallots. I use frozen drumstick from the Indian grocery store as fresh drumstick is hard to come by in the U.S. I find that the frozen drumstick takes longer to cook so I microwave them for three minutes before I add them to the rest of the vegetables. If you can get fresh drumstick, that is much better and you will not have to microwave them. Other vegetables that are commonly used are eggplant, radish, french beans, pumpkin, okra, and carrots. This recipe is hard to beat so give it a try and let me know if you agree.

Sambar – Spicy Lentils with Drumstick
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

For the Sambar Powder
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
6 dry red chillies, (depending on heat and your preference)
½ teaspoon whole black pepper
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

In a small pan, over low heat, add coriander seeds. Stir constantly while you roast them until the color changes to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and roast for another two minutes. Remove and let the spices cool completely. Put the spices in a coffee grinder and powder. I have a coffee grinder that is used only to powder spices.

For the Dal
1 cup toor dal/arhar dal, (split, yellow pigeon peas)
2 cups water
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coconut/canola oil

Wash the dal in several changes of water and cook in a pressure cooker with two cups of water, garlic, turmeric, and oil. I used my old Hawkins pressure cooker and the dal was done after three whistles. About five minutes. The time will vary depending on your pressure cooker.

For the vegetables
12 pieces of frozen drumsticks, (microwave with 3 teaspoons of water for three minutes)
1 large shallot, cut into eight pieces
1 large potato, cut into twelve pieces
2 green chillies, slit down the middle, (optional)
2 cups water
2 tablespoons tamarind, (soaked in 1 cup warm water)
3½ teaspoons salt

Soak the tamarind in one cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Extract the tamarind juice, strain and set aside.

In a large pot, over medium-high heat, add the partially cooked drumstick, shallot, potato, green chillie, two cups of water and one cup of tamarind juice. Cook until the vegetables are done. Add the fresh sambar powder, the cooked and mashed dal, and salt. Stir gently. If the sambar is thick add one cup of water, bring to a boil, and simmer for five minutes.

For tempering
1 tablespoon coconut/canola oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon asafoetida powder, hing
1 sprig curry leaves
1 shallot, sliced

Add coconut or canola oil in a small pan and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. Be careful because they will pop and splutter. Then add asafoetida, the curry leaves and sliced shallot. Fry until the sliced shallot turns golden brown. Add this seasoning to the sambar and stir. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with steaming hot rice and papadam.You can also have sambar with South Indian dishes like dosa and idli.

Chapli Kabab

Chapli Kabab4Chicken Chapli Kababs are a great alternative to the all time favorite American burger. I first tasted Chapli Kabab in a Pakistani restaurant in Washington, D.C. You can use minced beef, lamb or chicken to make these spicy and delicious kababs.

This recipe makes about 40 chapli kababs but you can easily halve the recipe. I was cooking for a large crowd and hence the larger amount. I bought two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat and two pounds of chicken breast meat and put it in the freezer for about an hour before I minced it in a food processor. Using dark and white meat kept the kababs moist. You can also buy minced chicken at the grocery store. I used gram flour in this recipe which is called “besan” in Hindi. Besan is made from ground, dried chickpeas, a legume known as chana dal in India. The gram flour can be purchased from an Indian grocery store.

I was lucky to have my daughter in the kitchen helping me fry the chapli kababs, while I formed the balls, flattened them, and put them in the pan. Since I had help, we put three pans on the stove and that made the job of frying the kababs much faster. You might also want to enlist some help when you make them. The chapli kababs freeze well and all you need to do is microwave them for a few minutes before serving. Try them on buns or sandwich thins with a little mayo. That’s how my kids like to eat them.

Chapli Kababs
4 pounds minced chicken
2 cups roughly chopped spring onion (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons grated garlic
2 tablespoons roughly chopped ginger
2 tablespoons roughly chopped green chillies (optional)
2 roughly chopped roma tomatoes
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chilli flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons roasted and crushed coriander seeds
3 teaspoons gram flour (besan)
Kosher salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying

In a small pan, over low heat, roast the coriander seeds. Crush them in a motar and pestle and set aside.

Put the spring onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, tomatoes, cilantro, and chilli flakes into a food processor and blend until they are finely chopped.

In a large bowl, put minced chicken, the chopped ingredients, the gram flour, the roasted and crushed coriander seeds, and salt. Using your hands mix until just combined. Make 40 balls and place them on two parchment lined trays. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. (I found that using a bowl of water and dipping my hands in them made it easier to make the balls and also in flattening them. You might want to try that.)

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot add two tablespoons of oil and gently swirl the oil in the pan so that it coats the whole surface of the pan. Flatten each ball into a large, thin cutlet or chapli kabab – as thin as you can make them. Fry in batches. Put only two or three kababs at a time in the pan. Fry each side for about three minutes or until they get nicely browned and then turn them over and fry the other side as well. Remove them on to paper towel lined trays. Make the rest of the chapli kababs in the same manner. Garnish the chapli kababs with coriander and mint leaves, spring onions and lemon wedges. Serve them with wheat thins, mayo or cilantro and mint chutney. The recipe for the cilantro and mint chutney can be found at the bottom of the Bangalore Vadais post.

Mattar Paneer Curry

Muttar Paneer2

Mattar Paneer Curry is a North Indian dish made with paneer and peas. The sauce is spicy, creamy and slightly sweet. Mattar Paneer is a dish I make frequently when I entertain, especially when my guests are vegetarian.

To keep the paneer soft and moist, fry the pieces until they turn light brown, remove with a slotted spoon, and put them directly into warm water. Just before they go into the curry, gently dab them with paper towels, to remove as much water as possible.

I think this recipe comes pretty close the popular Indian restaurant versions. I hope you will try it and give me your feedback. You can buy paneer and kasoori methi at Indian grocery stores.

Mattar Paneer
To be ground in a blender
1 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ cup chopped cilantro

To fry the paneer
14 oz paneer (400 grams)
3 tablespoons oil
5 cups warm water

To make the mattar paneer curry
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups water
2 teaspoons kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice

To be ground in a blender
Grind chopped onion, ginger, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Set aside.

To fry the paneer
Cut the paneer into small pieces. I cut my paneer into small rectangular pieces. In a non-stick frying pan, over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and then add a few pieces of paneer at a time and fry until light brown. Remove and put them directly into warm water. Repeat with the rest of the oil and paneer. Set aside.

To make the mattar paneer curry
Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers add cumin seeds. When they splutter add the ground onion, ginger, garlic, and cilantro. Sauté until it turns light brown and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, scrape the bottom of the pan well, and fry until the oil separates. Add the coriander, chilli, turmeric and cumin powder. Sauté for one minute and then add the peas. Add water, cover and cook until the peas are done.

In the mean time, drain the paneer pieces and with paper towels gently remove excess water. Add the paneer to the curry. Crush kasoori methi in the palm of your hand and add it to the curry. Add cream and lemon juice. Stir gently and cook for five minutes. Serve mattar paneer with rice, chapatis or naan.

Mint Limeade

Mint Limeade9

Are you excited about the upcoming 4th of July celebrations? I am, because this year we will spend the day with our dear friends, the Davids, the Samuels, and the Johns. They know how to put on a show with great food, patriotic decorations, and sparklers.

Last week I shared a simple potato salad recipe that you can make for your 4th of July picnic or barbecue. This week I thought I would share my recipe for Mint Limeade – something to cool you down on a hot summer afternoon.

Whatever your plans may be this 4th of July – have fun and be safe. Happy Birthday, America!

Mint Limeade
For the Simple Syrup
1½ cups granulated sugar
1½ cups water
1 tablespoon lime zest

For the Mint Limeade
40 mint leaves
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups simple syrup
4 cups cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups ice cubes (or crushed ice)
sprigs of mint leaves and lime wedges for garnish

For the Simple Syrup
Bring sugar, water and lime zest to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and cool. Stain and discard lime zest. Refrigerate until chilled.

For the Mint Limeade
In a large pitcher, add mint leaves. Take the handle of a wooden spoon and gently bruise mint leaves to open it up and let their natural oils give flavor to the drink. Add lime juice, 2 cups simple syrup, 4 cups cold water, salt and ice cubes or crushed ice. Stir and taste for sweet and sour balance. Chill, strain and serve over ice. Garnish each glass with mint leaves and lime wedges.