Beef Kofta Curry

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It’s been snowing outside for a few days now. Today it stopped, leaving the trees tops, the hills and the houses coated with an icing of powdery white. The air is clear and crisp although colored in shades of grey … and it’s cold. It’s the kind of cutting cold that goes straight to the bone benumbing toes, fingers and faces. I’ve had cold feet and hands for days that do not seem to warm up regardless of the hot baths, the feet stuck to the heater or the multiple layers of socks.

The cure had to come from the inside.

It had to be the soul-warming, intense-satisfying kind of cure, which only comes with a big bowl of comfort food. Meatballs are right up there on the top list of favorite comfort foods for us. While the pot simmers away in a wonderful thick sauce, the house begins to smell irresistible and inviting, chasing away the chill. 

Meatballs and spaghetti, the Italian-American is a classic dish we grew up eating. But there is more to meatballs than pasta and a tomato sauce. When the mighty meatball travels the world it takes on many different luscious forms - each one more delectable than the other. The Greek have their keftedes, the Mexicans indulge in albóndigas, while the Swedish make köttbullar, in Germany you will find Königsberger Klopse, the Italians serve polpette alla casalinga, in Ukraine the bikti is popular, while Lebanese have kaftas, the Moroccans serve a kefta and the Danish make a mean frikadellar. Each country adding a special twist to make their meatballs special.

Contrary to popular belief, meatballs are not only an Italian dish. Throughout history, many nations and cultures have laid claim on the humble meatball. The meatball has become varied to accommodate different tastes, available ingredients, and even religious traditions.
The first mentions of meatballs is dated back to the time of the Romans, found in an ancient recipe book written by Marcus Gavius Apicus (Apicius), who was born in 25 AD.

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Since then meatballs have also been found in other parts of the world. In Asian, Middle Eastern and North African cooking the kofta is found in rissoles, croquettes, and dumplings, where they are made of ground or mashed meat, which is mixed with ingredients such as rice, bulgur or vegetables. In India, koftas can be made with fish, or even without meat, using only vegetables. Here the kofta may have a spicy filling and contain nuts, cheeses, or egg.

Swedish meatballs, kötbullar, first made their appearance in a 1754 cookbook by Cajsa Warg. Kötbullar are served with a creamy gravy and lingonberry preserves and have become Sweden’s national dish.

Italian immigrants brought along their own meatball - polpette recipes to the “new world”, many of which had evolved according to family tradition. Polpette were not initially served with spaghetti but the two forces came together in order to please American guests, who frequented Italian restaurants and wanted meat served alongside their pasta dishes, thus creating another classic dish.

And Turkey boasts over 80 types of meatballs, each type made just a bit differently according to its region of origin!

When it is as cold as it currently is, I love making a divine thick gravy spiced with warming Indian spices like coriander, cumin, garam masala and chili to heat things up from the core. For my ultimate comforting dish, the koftas are simmered in a tangy tomato sauce spiced up with some of my favorite Indian spices, giving it a fantastic kick.

What is your favorite meatball recipe?

Recipe: Beef Kofta Curry

Printable version of recipe here

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1-2 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons Turmeric powder
  • 600g red onions, finely chopped/li>
  • 25g garlic cloves, crushed
  • 700g ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6-8 cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 8 cm cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 200g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:

  1. Heat a heavy pan over a high heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and roast for a few seconds until the spices are fragrant. Grind the spices into a fine powder, then mix with the Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric and garam masala.
  2. Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and garlic gently for about 10 to 12 minutes until soft and golden. Add the ground spices and seasoning, cooking for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer half of the mixture into a mixing bowl and allow to cool.
  3. Add the ground beef and the beaten egg to the onion-garlic mixture and mix everything together well. Shape into balls the size of walnuts and set aside.
  4. To the pan with the remaining onion-garlic mixture, add the cardamom pods, cloves, red chili and cinnamon stick. Pour the canned tomatoes, tomato paste and about 300 ml water to the pan. Season to taste and allow to gently simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the meatballs, if necessary in two batches, and fry for approx. 3 minutes, turning them to brown on all sides. Drop the meatballs into the tomato sauce and simmer, part-covered, for 20 minutes stirring carefully every now and then until the sauce has reduced and thickened. During the last 3-5 minutes add the spinach leaves and stir. Check seasoning and serve hot with coriander flavored rice.

Verdict

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A plate laced with steamy hot, perfumed rice and spicy meatballs wrapped in a wonderfully thick gravy is all I needed to feel the warmth of comfort and spice. With such gorgeous colorful meals inside, the cold outside has little chance of taking control.

Meals like this also keep me invigorated and energized, adding a great level of nutrition and substance to the busy days. I am in the middle of planning three workshops simultaneously, London, Ireland and next week I shall reveal the third one. Hang on to your seatbelts! I am also working on a fantastic new photo project and organizing our ski trip in February. No wonder I need comforting bowls of meatballs to keep me going! have a great week and weekend ahead everyone!

You might like these comfort food ideas ideas from WFLH:

PastaSpicyLambMeatballs 03b framed[2] MintMeatballs01framed2 LambQuinceTagine-0005-WM_thumb
Fettucine with Spicy Lamb Sausage Meatballs Mint Lamb Meatballs with Spelt Risotto and a Coriander Pesto Lamb and Quince Tagine


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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44 comments:

  1. Hi Meeta, I love your space and have learnt so much from you about photgraphy via your posts, so thank you. Love the idea of using spinach leaves to garnish the curry. Will surely give it a try. I don't eat meat but, live with carnivore teens. I blogged turkey koftas with spinach curry a while back. Please check my blog if you are interested:)

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    1. Thanks Meera! I think that is the best thing for an author of a blog (or a book etc.) to hear. This makes me smile that my space here provides you with valuable insight. Glad you liked the recipe!

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  2. These are flavourful and bookmarked.

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    1. Looking forward to hearing what you thought of them!

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  3. Meeta your Koftas look absolutely mouth watering!!
    Such a great meal to have in snowy Germany!

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    1. Arwa so good to see you here. Thanks and yes it is the perfect meal at this time of the year.

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  4. A perfect cure for grey winter's day. I ama a big fan of meat balls, ground meat and spices, so this mouthwatering dish is for me!

    Wonderful shot, as usual!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Glad you like it Rosa. Let me know what you thought of it.

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  5. What better way to warm up inside out! Beautiful take on the meatballs. I have some ground pork at home which was meant for dumplings, but after looking at this, I am thinking, may be meatball.

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    1. Oh I think they would be great with pork. I just prefer beef as it's leaner :o) Let me know what you think!

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  6. Oh, Kofta curry..grew up eating these. Spinach is a new twist to the curry for me.

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    1. I love adding a bit of color and freshness into my curries so in this the baby spinach was just perfect!

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  7. Not only a wonderful recipe and dish but what a great post, Meeta! Isn't it fascinating that so many cultures have a recipe for meatballs? One basic food taking on different personalities, flavors as it moves around the globe. And how I love a good curry and you know I make yours and we love them! This one must be the next on m list!

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    1. I love meatballs in almost all it's varieties! I think you and JP will (and the boys) would love this curry.

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  8. Reading your post, Meeta, directly made me drool :) ...and that although I am running a vegetarian food blog.. lol

    But when it comes to meatballs then it is really a different story with me and this starts at the Königsberger Klopse but also covers the Köttbullar or the Koftas... somehow I love them almost all.
    Hugs Eva :)

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    1. I adore Königsberger Klopse! I think the recipe for that will be up next LOL! Will be seeing you in a few weeks!

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  9. Oh! I've bookmarked these...you can never have too many meatball recipes. Thanks Meeta!

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    1. Nope i agree totally! One can never have enough meatball recipes. So you must share your Greek style soon.

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  10. This sounds wonderful. My 11 year old will be very interested - meatballs AND curry. Will definitely try this :). What part of Ireland are you visiting please?

    Kind regards
    Den

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    1. Den we'll be just outside Dublin! I think this is the perfect meal for kids one can adjust (or omit) the chilies depending on how they like it.

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  11. Oh who doesn't love Koftas. I made a Zucchini and Carrot Kofta for my blog the other day and it was yummy :) But ofcourse your pictures and the way you write is a class apart Meeta. Love the post :)

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    1. The zucchini carrot kofta sounds quite divine too. I must come by and check them out!

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  12. This is a heart warming recipe. Love to try a vegetarian version of this. Great photography Meeta :)

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    1. Thanks! I thin one can make this with many vegetables as in the comment just above this ... with zucchini and carrot. Or it would work fantastic with chickpeas and lentils too.

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  13. Loving those baby spinach leaves dotted in among the kofta. My favourite meatballs are a Middle Eastern version packed with fresh herbs and quite a lot of spice. I don't we don't need warming up here but still....

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    1. But still ... meatballs are meatballs!! I have to say that there is something quite satisfying after coming in from the cold, crisp outside into the warmth inside and then tucking into a hearty dish like this ... it's just so ooooh! You know?

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  14. And don't forget South African frikadelle - a childhood favourite of mine! My mom used to make them all the time, although her recipe included a slice of bread soaked in milk to hold it all together. Mmmm, winter comfort.

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    1. Oh golly how can I forget!! I make the kötbullars with the slice of bread and also the Königsberger klopse are made that way!

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  15. Yes! I'm all for soul-warming foods, especially with this cold weather (here too!). These meatballs look perfect, comfort food with a creative twist. I feel warmer already:)

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    1. LOL! Well that a good thing if this is warming you up virtually Denise! Love stews and hearty curries in this cold!

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  16. Meeta, these look so delicious. You are right with the snow and the cold weather, these would be a welcome treat!

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  17. Comforting and so beautiful when it is so bone chilling cold outside.

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    1. Yup! You must try .. the kids would love it. Might have to adjust the spices a bit but it's a fantastic kiddy meal!

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  18. really appetizing. even the image screamed eat me! yum!

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  19. I love that you dressed up the koftas in Indian garb, you can't go wrong with that. Love your walking us through history and I tried to imagine the snow covered rolling hills surrounding you. Pictures? Next time! :) We here are not as familiar with the type of cold you described but today I am reluctant to step again outside.

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    1. Yes i have to admit I was lazy with the camera this winter - in terms of landscape/nature photograph. Been so busy taking images for clients that my own hobby is falling short! It looks dreary now as it all melts. I also totally agree that Indian flavors + koftas rock!

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  20. Thank´s for this recipe, it looks delicious and easy to prepare, besides the combination of meatballs and curry sounds great.

    Regards,

    @photorecipe

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  21. Meeta, will you marry me or at the very least be my personal chef? The dish is comfort at it's best (pinning it for sure). And please tell me your coming to the states for your next gig...the Northwest preferably and if you are, email me secretly so I can secure a spot!

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    1. HAHAHA! I hate to disappoint on all fronts Rhonda but am flattered! Am married, have a job I love and next gig will be in Europe. But hey why not come here and you can visit one of the gigs, we can cook curry together and have a ball?

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  22. Can't wait to hear all about your new projects and workshops dear! Is the snow still there or has it melted too? We had loads of snow but in the space of two days it has completely disappeared to be replaced by wet and storm.... I'd prefer the snow! So much prettier. This delicious kofta would go well with either weather type though!

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  23. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Hope I don't have a hard time finding all of the ingredients.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta