Last week S asked for some koftas for lunch. You could call Koftas a kind of Indian meatballs which are made with both meat as well as vegetables mixed with spices. Normally when asked for these labour intensive dishes, my usual answer is a no, but I decided to make them this time. I usually prepare these with potatoes, but for some reason didn’t want to that day. I decided to experiment and that experiment was a huge success, hence this blog post. These koftas, though labour and time intensive are extremely versatile and you could have them as part of your main course, as a snack or even made into veggie burgers! You’ll be glad you tried them….
Mixed Vegetable Koftas in Red Gravy
For the Koftas:
- 2 cups chopped mixed vegetables (I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflowers, French beans, carrots, peas, corn and cabbage. You could use some of these, all or even experiment with your own version)
- 1 cup frozen paneer
- 2 cups Breadcrumbs (may need slightly more or less, depending on the wetness of the paste)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 – 2 tsps red chilli powder (add more or less depending on the intensity of the chilli and your tolerance level)
- 2 tsps Amchur powder (dry mango powder, can omit if not available, though it gives a nice tanginess to the kofta)
- Salt to taste
- Oil for deep frying
For the Red Gravy
- 2 tbps oil
- 2 large onions, chopped roughly
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped roughly
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1/3 of orange pumpkin, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup skimmed milk
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 4-5 garlic pods
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp carom seeds
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
For the koftas
- In a large pressure cooker, cook the chopped vegetables with minimum water for about 4 whistles. Let the pressure reduce completely, remove from the cooker and drain all the water completely.
- In a largish dish put the frozen paneer and cover with hot water. This will soften the paneer and when soft enough to press with your fingers, drain the water completely. Keep the water to use for the gravy.
- Once the vegetables are cool enough to touch and the water has drained away, using your hands or a potato masher, mash up the vegetables so that it resembles a dough. At the point, squeeze out the water from the paneer and crumble it, adding it to the paste.
- Add salt to taste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, amchur powder and mix well. Add the breadcrumbs a cup at a time and try to make balls. If the mixture is able to retain the shape of the ball without crumbling or sticking to your hand, the koftas are ready to be fried. Keep this aside while you start on the gravy.
- Make the required number of koftas and fry on a medium flame till the outside is nice, crisp and brown. Drain on kitchen paper. You need not cook the inside too much as it is already cooked. Keep it aside till it is time to serve.
For the Gravy
- In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry the following, stirring for a couple of seconds each before you add the next ingredient – cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, carom seeds, chillies, ginger and finally the garlic.
- Next add the chopped onions, fry for a few minutes, then put in the carrots and pumpkin, frying each for a couple of minutes before adding the next one.
When the vegetables start softening, add the tomatoes and add a tsp of salt to allow the vegetable to sweat and cook. When the tomatoes are cooked and the vegetables soft, remove from the fire.
- Let it cool and then zap it in a blender. You can use the paneer water here as it has all the goodness of paneer.
- Once cool, in a clean pan, heat the balance 1 tsp oil, and when warm, pour the blended mixture and let it boil. If the mixture if thick, add some milk or cream (if you want to make it rich) to thin it.
- When it starts boiling, check for salt and add the garam masala. Give it a quick boil and switch off the gas.
Assembling the dish
- When it’s time to serve, heat the gravy and add the koftas to the gravy, garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.
Tips and Notes:
- You can make the koftas as a teatime snack. I even made these into patties and served as veggie burgers. They were delicious!
- Do not assemble the dish in advance as the koftas tend to absorb the gravy, so make them separately and assemble when it’s time to serve.
- Instead of milk, you could do a combination of milk and cream in the gravy to make it richer. At the stage of frying the onions and spices, a handful of cashewnuts could also be added to increase the richness of the gravy.
- I also felt that if the gravy was thinned with milk, you could also drink it as a soup. Just increase the amount of carrots and pumpkin and it’s quite similar to my Coriander Carrot Pumpkin Soup.
The Koftas made as patty for a delicious Veggie Burger!