Fried kofte have always been my favourite and I have been making them all my life whether they were made of lamb, veal or beef. My kids love them and all my guests would ask me for their recipe commenting ” they are just so good”! There are kofte of all kinds, but this recipe is only in the hands of a few and it belongs to the south indian muslim community especially in Chennai.and is probably on the verge of extinction now. The recipes for indian or pakistani kofte floating around on the internet call for adding potatoes, gram flour, eggs, lentils or bread crumbs, white flour plus lot of whole and powdered garam masala spices, ginger garlic paste etc etc.then pressure cooking, then cooling them in the fridge overnight which is such a long process.
But this one is a simple recipe that I learnt from my mom which you can make in less than an hour. It has subtle flavours and made with a few ingredients which don’t mask the taste of meat. The art of cooking I would say lies in enhancing the flavour and taste of the main ingredient rather than masking it. The meaty flavour should not be overpowered at all by adding too many spices.
I just love these kofte………when you bite into them, you feel their crispy outer layer first then as your teeth go in deeper you taste the soft juicy stringy meat texture combined with a hint of flavour from the herbs and spices added. You eat one then another and another and in no time the whole plate is empty. Once I made these and there were kids around. I left a whole plate of these kofte on the table then stepped out a bit just for a short while. But when I came back they were all gone.
I always feel the kofte made with lamb meat are the best coz lamb has that moist texture and intense taste. The baby veal ones are equally good. But the beef ones are dry, so whenever I make the beef kofte I add the egg white to keep them moist. It also helps them bind so they don’t break when you are frying them.
Here’s the recipe:
1 lb lamb/veal/beef
1/2 cup channa dal (bengal gram)
1 medium size onion
4 garlic cloves (medium)
2-4 green chillies
1 sprig of fresh cilantro
4 green cardamoms
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Clean, wash the channa dal, meat and peel the onions and garlic. You don’t need to soak the channa dal at all.
2. Add all the above ingredients in the list to the pot and bring to boil. Pound the cloves and green cardamom before adding them to the pot. The moisture in the meat and dal is enough to steam the meat and dal mixture. If it is too dry then add 2 – 4 tbs of water. Close the lid lightly and steam for 2 minutes or until the meat colour is no longer pink. You don’t need to use the pressure cooker or instant pot. You can even just cook it by turning over the dal and meat till the colour changes.
3. Let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare your other food – rice, curry, salad to eat with it.
4. Using an all purpose wet grinder, grind the dal, onion and green chillies first, remove set aside. Sometimes I don’t cook the green chillies and add them raw to the grinder to get that sting and green chilli flavour.
5. Add all the meat pieces and chopped fresh cilantro to the grinder and pulse them till they get shredded.
6. Mix the shredded meat with the ground channa mixture. Knead it with your hands, adjust the salt, shape into diamonds or flat rounds and deep fry them to crisp light brown. You can serve them with mint chutney as an appetizer or eat it with rice, dal, curry etc. Enjoy!
1. Overcooking the meat and dal mixture makes the kofte dough mushy so even adding egg white will not help you get the right texture.
2. Adding egg white to the kofta dough especially beef helps them bind better so they don’t break when you are frying them.
3. Do not add extra water while grinding the dough. Just the juices left from steaming the meat dal mixture are enough. And do not dry it out when you are steaming them.
4. Any left over kofte can be stored in the fridge, then heating them up in the oven makes them turn crisp again, but they turn very soft in the microwave.