Cabbage Kofta Curry
Here, I am with another vegetarian recipe.
While growing up, we had koftas all the time. It was a treat for us. Koftas are delicious, deep fried meat or veggie dumplings. Now, as we entered middle age, my husband and I try to avoid eating fried food. But despite the fact that they are deep fried koftas are actually healthy. They are full of meat or vegetables. You can bake the meat ones but the baked vegetable koftas don’t taste as good as the fried one. They can be made in an air fryer or Æbleskiver pan but I don’t have one yet.
What I like the best about koftas is that they can be made out of anything, as long as you are able to bind the ingredients together into a ball. The most common vegetarian varieties of Koftas made are Lauki (ash gourd), cabbage, mixed vegetable and malai (cheese and potato) kofta. I made these koftas out of cabbage.
Cabbage is one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy, and it’s also chock full of nutrients. You will be surprised at how a relatively inexpensive vegetable like cabbage, with few spices can make such an unbeatable combination that almost taste like meatballs. It is undeniably delicious and very easy to make, so long as you stock up on just a few Indian pantry essentials : turmeric, garam masala and bengal gram flour. In Indian household, koftas are mostly served in a curry. The curry can vary from thin to creamy rich and its usually sour.
Every cook has their own variation of family recipes and therefore this rendition may be a bit different to what you are used to. If you have all the ingredients on hand, you should be done with this recipe in an hour. It’s basically 2 steps : Getting the cabbage balls ready which involves grating, shaping and frying and secondly, making the gravy.
It is an ideal dish for family gatherings or parties, and totally vegan. The koftas and gravy can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep them separately in containers. Before serving warm up the gravy and simmer the balls in the hot gravy. They freeze very well too. Just prepare the gravy and add the thawed koftas when entertaining.
Quick notes to make good cabbage kofta
- Select a young and green cabbage. Use a medium hand grater or a food processor to shred.
- Season it lightly with spices.
- You need bengal gram flour (besan) flour to bind the shredded cabbage together. You can also use garbanzo bean flour but not all purpose flour for these kind of koftas. Use just enough besan to hold the mixture together. It’s a little hard to be exact, since it depends on the moisture content in the shredded cabbage. The trick is to add (sifted) besan a little at a time until the dough feels like it will hold and stay together .
- Once the mixture is ready, make small round or oblong koftas with wet hands as quickly as you can otherwise the dough become watery and you need to add more gram flour.
- Gently drop koftas (one at a time) in hot oil. If you find that they are breaking, add more flour to the balls to help them bind.
- Don’t touch as soon as you drop them. Turn only when the bottom looks golden(after about 45 sec) or else the koftas can break. Turn over a couple of times for even frying. They should be fried on medium low heat so that inside of the balls get cooked too.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan – you may need to do a couple of batches depending on the size of koftas and capacity of the pan. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess fat.
- After the koftas are fried simmer gently in gravy for 5 minutes.
- Koftas absorb a lot of water. When you remove from heat let the koftas stand in the gravy for 15 – 20 min, the gravy thickens by itself and is almost absorbed into the koftas, making them softer and tastier.
Don’t shy away from making these Indian style vegetarian meat balls.
A classic vegetarian alternative to meatballs.
- 1 lb cabbage head (Use three cups shredded and eat the leftover big pieces in salad. You get 16 -18 koftas)
- 100 g besan (1 cup +1tbsp, sifted before measuring Read notes above)
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1/4 tbsp. red chili powder
- 2 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- Sea Salt to taste
- 250 g tomatoes (2 large), pureed
- 1 cup onion, ground
- 1 potato, boiled and mashed potato
- 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Sea Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp. cilantro , chopped
- 3-4 cups water
- 3 tbsp. oil
- In a bowl, mix the kofta ingredients. The dough will be soft, but you will be able to form round or oblong shapes.
- Make this mix just before you are ready to fry the kofta otherwise it will become watery.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan.
- Slowly drop the koftas in oil (avoid overcrowding).
- Turn the koftas occasionally. Fry them on medium low heat until golden brown all around. (we need to cook them from inside not just outside).
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess fat.
- For gravy, heat oil in a saucepan.
- Add ground onion, fry until it begins to change color.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick.
- Once it looks golden brown, add the turmeric, and red chili powder. Stir and fry for 15 sec.
- Add the pureed tomatoes and let that cook for about 5-7 minutes to combine flavors and till it become saucy.
- Add mashed potato, salt, and water. Bring it to boil.
- Add koftas and garam masala. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, garnish with fresh cilantro, then serve with roti or rice.