Kofta Meatballs.

The term ‘kofta’ derives, in so far as I can tell, from an old Persian word meaning to crush or to grind up, and refers to the minced or ground-up meat that is the base of the dish. Not that meat is essential. Most Hindus are vegetarian, and there are many varieties of kofta made from all sorts of vegetable bases, which rather blurs the line between kofta and croquettes, but food is a continuum and cannot be neatly compartmentalised. So, suffice to say the principle of the kofta spread outwards from south-west Asia and now forms an essential part of traditional cuisines from Greece to Kazakhstan and pretty much everywhere south of that, with the vast number of variations that that would imply. What follows is a more or less Persian-ish example of this huge genre.

1 tsp cumin.
1 tsp paprika.
¼ tsp white pepper.
¼ tsp salt.
2 slices white toast bread reduced to crumbs.
250g minced lamb [or beef].
1 egg.
1 tsp coriander.
1 tsp fennel.
½ tsp ground ginger.
¼ tsp salt.
¼ cup cooking oil.
2 onions, peeled and chopped.
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped.
½ cup yoghurt.
2 tblsps chopped coriander green for garnish.

Mix the cumin, paprika, pepper and salt together and, using a fork, blend into the meat and breadcrumbs. Add the egg and continue to work with the fork then bare hands until the mixture becomes an homogenous paste. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Form the meat paste into small balls [you should be able to make 18-20] and place them on a greased oven tray. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking, mix the coriander, fennel, ginger and salt together. Mix one onion, the garlic and the yoghurt together and beat to a paste with a kitchen wand. Heat the oil over a medium flame and fry the second onion until it begins to turn golden. Add the spice mixture, fry for 1 minute then add the yoghurt mixture. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk to a paste with the kitchen whizz.
Add the meatballs to the yoghurt sauce and keep warm. Serve over rice and shredded cabbage and garnish with the coriander.

Serves: 2.

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