Saturday, October 11, 2008

Malai Kofta (Vegetables Balls in Roasted Tomato-Pepper Sauce)

Malai Kofta is a sure hit whenever I serve them! They are pretty easy to make - just need a bit of time to prepare the kofta and sauce. Other summer squashes, gourds such as tori, and eggplants can be used to make koftas.

The kofta are quite delicious on their own as a snack or appetizer too with a little Green chutney and/or Date-Tamarind chutney.

8-12 Servings

4 large ripe Tomatoes
2 large Red Bell Pepper
1 large Red Onion
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger
1/2 tsp ground Turmeric
1 Tbsp ground Coriander seeds
1/4 tsp ground Dry Red Chilies (Cayenne)
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sambar Powder
1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped for garnish

Wash and dry all the veggies. Remove the stem end and halve the tomatoes; cut the peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes; peel and cut the onions into chunks. Place them in a single layer in an oiled baking pan and sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake at 400 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned. Cool, then remove the skins from peppers and tomatoes.

Puree the roasted vegetables with the ginger.

Heat the oil in a Dutch Oven (4 or 5 quart pot) and lightly brown the cumin seeds. Turn heat down and add the rest of the spices. Stir well.

Add the tomato-pepper puree and the vegetable juice saved from the kofta veggies. Mix well.

Add about 1 cup of water to thin the sauce and simmer covered for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken when you add the koftas - the koftas absorb a lot of the moisture.

The kofta and the sauce can be made ahead, cooled and frozen. When you are ready to serve, let the kofta defrost while the sauce is heating and proceed as directed in the "assembly".

Kofta (Vegetable Balls):

1 small Opo Squash or 5 medium zucchini
1 medium Carrot
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1/2 Block (about 7-8 oz) Firm Tofu OR Paneer cheese, grated (Optional)
11/2 to 2 cups Gram flour (Besan)
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Sambar Powder
1 pinch Asafoetida

Oil to Deep Fry

Grate the vegetables into a large bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Gently squeeze out the vegetables (save the juices for the sauce).

Mix the vegetables with the ginger, tofu/cheese,1 tsp salt, spices and enough of the gram flour to form a soft dough.

Heat oil in a suitable pan to deep fry.

Form the veggie mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut (about 1" in diameter) and carefully slip into the hot oil.

Put in only a few balls into the oil at a time to avoid crowding.

Gently turn the kofta to brown evenly on all sides.

Remove the koftas with a slotted spoon when they are a rich deep golden brown and drain on absorbent paper towels.


Gently put the kofta into the simmering sauce and turn them to coat. Turn off heat and let them marinate for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Check to see if the koftas are soft and have absorbed some of the sauce.

Sprinkle the cilantro and serve hot with your favorite rice dishes or Indian breads with any kind of raita and/or plain yogurt.

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