Chicken Kofta Curry ( Chicken Meat Balls in a Yummy “No Cream” Sauce)

This is one of those recipes I have been meaning to make since Azlin Bloor (moderator) announced the ‘love my balls’ event in the foodies community (on Google+), but I just didn’t get a chance to go to the meat shop. Finally, I got some minced chicken this Sunday and made it before the event ended in March. Please check out the wonderful recipes everyone has shared in this community. I love chicken meatballs and I know I am not alone. Everybody knows how to make meatballs their way, I am sharing mine. I think you’ll really enjoy them.  It is pretty simple and I found over the years that simple works. We actually call meatballs “koftas” in India. Everything that is ball shaped and goes into the curry is a kofta. This chicken kofta curry is low maintenance and sure to become your family favorite for a weeknight meal or even for a fancy dinner party.



For the chicken meatballs, I normally use simple ground chicken breast.  A combination of chicken thighs and chicken breast would be good too. When I am in a hurry I sometimes use store-bought minced chicken, and that works as well. For the binding I use besan, but you can also use cornstarch or egg. Seasoning is pretty simple too. It’s all pantry staples such as cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt, and lemon juice. Next, you want to combine the ingredients. When making meatballs, the less you work the meat, the better it is. That way the balls come out smooth in texture, both light and tight, and almost bouncy to the bite. I use my five fingers (ten if making a big batch) in a claw form to mix and squish the mixture until it is homogeneous.Then I divide the meat mixture into equal and consistent portions using a small ice-cream scoop and roll it with greased or wet hands.




If you ask me, the real star of this recipe is the gravy.  It’s creamy, tangy and delicious. You can drink the gravy like a soup. 🙂 I begin the curry by browning the sliced onion, garlic,  and zucchini with some whole spices. Then grind them to a smooth mixture along with white poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are frequently used in Indian cuisine, to thicken savory curries. They are nutty and pleasant in taste. They are usually dry roasted beforehand to bring out their full flavor. It’s what gives this curry it’s magical taste, so don’t skip it.




Next, I add yogurt, tomato paste, turmeric and Kashmiri chili powder, and cook the mixture on medium high until the moisture evaporates and the masala turns reddish orange. This process of sautéing is called ‘bhuno’ in hindi and is the secret to a rich gravy full of depth & flavor. Do not rush and keep an eye on it or you’ll end up with burnt masala and no flavor. Drop a tbsp. of water if required to prevent the masala from sticking to the bottom.



Once the masala is nicely cooked and attains the required color I add water. After stirring it around I allow it come to a boil and cook  until the gravy is smooth and flavors meld, about 5 minutes. At this point,  the rolled chicken balls goes in the gravy and  are simmered gently for about 5 -7 minutes. When the meatballs are cooked directly in curry they really absorb all the flavors and become succulent.  The curry has the right balance of acidity with a mix of yogurt and tomato paste that works well for the succulent koftas.



I served the chicken kofta curry with simply boiled aromatic wild rice and steamed vegetables. I hope you will enjoy this recipe just as much as my family enjoys it!


This is what they look inside. Looks tasty, right?



Chicken Kofta Curry ( Chicken Meat Balls in a Yummy “No Cream" Sauce)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Succulent koftas, soaked in a flavorful, "No nut" & "No Cream" gravy to give you the perfect meal.


  • 500 g chicken mince
  • For binding & seasoning
  • 8 g (1 tbsp) besan / gram flour
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • For gravy
  • 120 g roughly sliced onion
  • 120 g roughly sliced, zucchini
  • 15 g ( 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp) poppy seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 black cardamom, split
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 " piece cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. oil, plus some for greasing hand and tray
  • 5 cups water


  1. Roast poppy seeds in a small pan. Stir constantly until fragrant. This would take about 2 minutes. Reserve 1/2 tsp for garnish and soak the rest in 2 tbsp. hot water.
  2. Whisk besan, cilantro, spices, salt and minced ginger in a small bowl.
  3. Add lemon juice and the spice mixture to the chicken mince.
  4. Using your hands, quickly mix until evenly incorporated (This can also be done using a food processor).
  5. Take a pinch of mixture and cook it in a frying pan to check the seasonings. Adjust as desired.
  6. Refrigerate until you make the gravy.
  7. Heat oil in a wide pan (Make sure your chosen pan is big enough to accommodate all of the koftas in one go, around 24 cm)
  8. Add black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and stir-fry briefly.
  9. Next, add the roughly sliced onion, zucchini and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to turn brown and somewhat soft, about 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl of food processor or blender, straining any excess oil, and allow to cool for a minute or so.
  11. Add roasted poppy seeds (reserve 1 tsp for garnish) and pulse until smooth.
  12. Return the ground mixture to the same pan. Add turmeric, red chili powder, salt, yogurt, and tomato paste.
  13. Cook the mixture on medium high, stirring occasionally till it turns nice reddish orange and the moisture evaporates.(add tbsp. of water when ever needed to ensure the masala does not burn and acquire a bitter taste).
  14. Meanwhile, remove the minced mixture from fridge. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop divide the mixture equally and place it on a greased tray.
  15. Once the masala is nicely cooked and attains a required color, add water (approx. 5 cups). You can vary this amount depending on how much thin you like the curry, but I wouldn't recommend going below 4 1/2 cups (the curry tends to thicken as it rests). Bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  16. Roll the scooped meat mixture into balls (Lightly coat your hands in olive oil prior to shaping the meatballs to prevent them from sticking to your hands)
  17. Carefully, place all the koftas in the gravy one at a time.
  18. Place a lid on the pan but leave a small open slit to allow the steam to escape.
  19. Simmer, until they are perfectly cooked through, at least 5-7 minutes.
  20. Transfer koftas to serving bowl, Garnish with poppy seeds and cilantro (optional).
  21. Serve, with rice and steamed vegetables.


This post is part of Tasty Tuesdays.

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  • comment-avatar
    Angie@Angie's Recipes March 21, 2017 (6:27 am)

    I love the use of Greek yoghurt instead of cream here. The gravy looks fantastic.

  • comment-avatar
    Norma Chang March 21, 2017 (12:51 pm)

    This looks absolutely delicious, I never thought of using poppy seeds as a thickener, should give a try, thanks for the idea.

  • comment-avatar
    Monica March 21, 2017 (4:41 pm)

    Looks delectable! I love how using yogurt gives me a creamy sauce that’s so much lighter! Not only do the chicken meatballs looks delicious, I love how you served it with the wild rice and vegetables. Perfect meal!

  • comment-avatar
    marcie March 21, 2017 (7:42 pm)

    Oh this dish looks just wonderful! Those meatballs smothered in that amazing sauce just looks mouthwatering!

  • comment-avatar
    Katerina March 22, 2017 (2:36 am)

    I love the idea of creamless curry and these balls look so tasty!

  • comment-avatar
    allie March 22, 2017 (5:24 pm)

    Hi Balvinder – these meatballs are fabulous. Sometimes I make mine with a mix of turkey and beef. I’ll have to try yours with the chicken. I can almost taste them!

  • comment-avatar
    Adina March 23, 2017 (5:10 am)

    Oh, what a beautiful dish! I love any kind of meatballs and chicken meatballs are no exception. I love the ingredients in the sauce as well, so I am putting this on the list as well (soooo many things I would love to cook….).

  • comment-avatar
    Juliana March 23, 2017 (10:06 am)

    I have never made chicken meatballs…it is sure a great alternative for beef or pork…the chicken meatballs in the curry sauce just look delicious Balvinder…
    I hope you are having a wonderful week 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Alida @My Little Italian Kitchen March 23, 2017 (10:31 am)

    My mouth is watering! I have started making curries now because I love them so much but I have only been eating them out so far. This looks fab! I will add it to my list!

  • comment-avatar
    Treat and Trick March 25, 2017 (6:27 pm)

    Totally new way to cook kofta. I would definitely try it. . Chocolate rice is one of chocolate chip varieties, it is called chocolate rice because of its shape, similar to the size of rice..

  • comment-avatar
    Midge March 26, 2017 (12:27 am)

    Oooh yum! love the idea of using chicken for meatballs! pinned for later!

  • comment-avatar
    Parmainder May 2, 2017 (3:04 pm)

    This looks amazing. What can I use in place of yoghurt as I need this to be dairy free.

    • comment-avatar
      Balvinder May 2, 2017 (5:02 pm)

      Use fresh tomato puree dairy free yogurt stead.