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!
Succulent koftas, soaked in a flavorful, "No nut" & "No Cream" gravy to give you the perfect meal.
- 500 g chicken mince
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Whisk besan, cilantro, spices, salt and minced ginger in a small bowl.
- Add lemon juice and the spice mixture to the chicken mince.
- Using your hands, quickly mix until evenly incorporated (This can also be done using a food processor).
- Take a pinch of mixture and cook it in a frying pan to check the seasonings. Adjust as desired.
- Refrigerate until you make the gravy.
- 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)
- Add black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and stir-fry briefly.
- Next, add the roughly sliced onion, zucchini and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to turn brown and somewhat soft, about 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Add roasted poppy seeds (reserve 1 tsp for garnish) and pulse until smooth.
- Return the ground mixture to the same pan. Add turmeric, red chili powder, salt, yogurt, and tomato paste.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Carefully, place all the koftas in the gravy one at a time.
- Place a lid on the pan but leave a small open slit to allow the steam to escape.
- Simmer, until they are perfectly cooked through, at least 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer koftas to serving bowl, Garnish with poppy seeds and cilantro (optional).
- Serve, with rice and steamed vegetables.
This post is part of Tasty Tuesdays.