Lamb Kofta in Tomato Sauce

Kofta with tomato-yogurt sauce
Kofta with tomato-yogurt sauce

Ever heard of kofta? It’s a meatball or meatloaf which can be made of lamb, chicken, beef or a mixture of them. They are popular in many parts of the world, but this recipe comes from northern India. Locals there eat it usually with naan or pita bread, but this time we were a bit lazy and used tortilla breads straight from a supermarket.

The main difference between regular Swedish meatballs and kofta is spiciness and spices. Of course lamb brings its own flavor to the meatballs, too. In addition to chili there are cinnamon, coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, cardamom and cumin in the tomato sauce. Thick yogurt adds creaminess to the sauce and cuts the chili heat a bit.

This dish is a wonderful snack. Once we did a large batch of kofta in tomato sauce and served it with pita for our terrace party guests. It was a huge success and it was easy for us, because once the kofta is ready, people can prepare their own dishes by filling the pitas or rolling tortilla breads.

Ingredients for Kofta for 4 Servings

  • 750 g (1.5 lbs.) of minced lamb – carne de cordero picado
  • 1 onion – cebolla
  • 4 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated – jengibre
  • a handful of fresh coriander – cilantro
  • 2 green chillies – pimiento picante verde
  • 1 small red chilli – pimiento picante rojo
  • sea salt – sal marina
  • black pepper – pimienta negra
  • canola oil for frying – aceite para freír

Chop onion, garlic cloves, chillies and coriander fine. Grate the ginger. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let it rest in the fridge until the tomato sauce is just about to boil.

Roll the meatballs with wet hands and fry them in canola oil nice and brown either on a grill plate or on a frying pan for about 3-4 minutes. Not that they are fully cooked, but that they get brown skin. Lift the meatballs to the sauce and cover with lid. Let it simmer slowly for about half an hour.

Ingredients for Tomato Sauce for 4 Servings

  • 1 tbsp of coriander seeds – semillas de cilantro
  • a splash of olive oil – aceite oliva
  • 1 tsp cardamom – cardamomo
  • 1 tbsp paprika powder – pimentón dulce
  • 1 tsp of turmeric – cúrcuma
  • 1 tsp of cumin – comino
  • 1 big onion – cebolla grande
  • 4 cloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
  • 1 red chili – pimiento picante
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated – jengibre
  • 8 ripe tomatoes – tomates
  • 1 cinnamon stick – ramita de canela
  • 2 dl (1 cup) of thick yogurt – yogur

Dry roast coriander seeds for few minutes on a dry sauce pan. There are good instructions how to dry roast in Kitchen Butterfly blog, in case you have never done it before. After roasting, use kitchen mortar and pestle to break the seeds.

Add oil to the hot sauce pan along with all dry spices. Mix well for one minute so that oil receives all the aromas from the spices. Then add finely chopped onions, garlic, chili and grated ginger. Cook until onions are soft.

Add peeled and chopped tomatoes to the sauce with the cinnamon stick. Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and get mushy. Then add yogurt and kofta balls. Season with salt, stir well and check the taste. Cover with lid and let it simmer for about half an hour.

Steamed cauliflower goes very well with this dish. They get medium soft in about 5 minutes over boiling water. Cauliflower is not necessary, but adds a bit of structure to the kofta rolls. Fill the rolls with the sauce, cauliflower and fresh coriander, and enjoy authentic northern Indian streetfood!

¡Buen provecho!

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