Known as kari kola urundai kuzhambu, this recipe is a Chettinad specialty. It is their version of meatballs in a sauce.  There is something about meatballs that only meat-eaters can understand. Done as this recipe suggests, you have some moderately spiced meatballs in a quite spicy sauce.

You need to make the right-sized koftas. Golf-ball sized koftas are too small, cricket balls are too big. As described in the recipe you have eight koftas, about the size of billiard balls. Just right for four people.

Having said that, you could make cocktail sized koftas. Make them at golf ball size, and reduce the cooking time appropriately. Don’t bother making the sauce, just serve them straight from the oven.

The recipe for the koftas is  very like recipes from across the Mediterranean and the Arab world. Minced lamb, mint and spices is a common preparation that exists from Spain through Greece and across to the Northern African countries. This commonality may well be the influence from the times of Alexander the Great.

I am amazed at how rarely I see this dish in Indian restaurants. It does lend itself to preparation in advance, and the sauce could well be made in “curry house” style. As presented here it is a family recipe, and it well suited to a special dinner.

So you are a vegetarian, and have read this far? Well, as it happens there is a vegetarian version in this book, called malai subzi kofta that just may suit your needs.

You will need to start this recipe at least the day before to marinate the lamb.

This recipe is best suited to serving with chapatis and a kachumber to cut through the creaminess of the sauce.

the recipe

prep 20 minutes
cook 1 hour 30 minutes
marinate 12 hours
total 1 hour 50 minutes
servings 4 servings
calories 507 kcal

ingredients

for the koftas

for the sauce

to serve

instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the koftas,with the exception of the besan, in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight.

for the koftas

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C.

  2. Take mixture and divide into eight portions. Keeping your hands wet, form into tightly packed balls. Now, with dry hands, dust with chickpea flour, and gently shape again.

  3. Place koftas on an oven tray in a single layer and bake for 45 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, making sure that the koftas retain their ball shape.

for the sauce

  1. Heat mustard oil in a pan big enough to just take the cooked koftas in a single layer. A 24cm pan should suffice.

  2. When the mustard oil stops smoking, and appears translucent, allow to cool a little, then add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, curry leaves and dried chillies. Return to heat, and cook until mustard seeds begin to splutter.
  3. Add onions and salt, and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently until onions start to brown.

  4. Add the turmeric, tomatoes and minced garlic and simmer until the tomatoes soften.
  5. Add chilli powder and ground coriander seeds. Stir well and cook for another two minutes. Add tamarind water and cook for a further two minutes.
  6. Using a vegetable masher, or best, a stick blender, puree the sauce, getting as many large pieces of tomato reduced. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer.
  7. Add any juices from the cooked koftas to mixture ,mix,  then gently add the koftas in a single layer, ensuring they are coated with the sauce.

  8. Poach koftas in sauce for 30 minutes, turning gently every five minutes.

to serve

  1. Remove koftas from sauce, and place into serving dish. Stir the sauce, and gently add coconut milk. Season with salt, to taste, then pour sauce over koftas, sprinkle with coriander and serve.

notes

  • Use the leanest minced lamb you can obtain.
  • Be careful with size of the koftas. Golf-ball sized koftas are too small, cricket balls are too big. You should have have eight koftas, each about billiard ball size.
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