Tender spiced meatballs in a smoky yoghurt based gravy, this Kofta Curry or Koftay ka Salan is a dish that makes any day feel like a special occasion. My tried and tested recipe is below!
It is safe to say that no recipe has taken the amount of time or caused me the amount of anxiety as this Koftay ka Salan. Let's pause here and think about how I have a significant collection of well reviewed Pakistani Beef Recipes including the iconic Nihari, and yet, this, this was the hardest one to perfect.
Why? Because of my family. My Nani was the Kofta making pro.
She would make a paste essentially by hand and her koftay were incredibly tender and beauty pageant worthy at the same time. My mother's koftay too are of the same ilk.
Table of Contents
- Kofta Fails
- What makes this Koftay Recipe a success
- Ingredients for Koftay ka Salan
- Cooking Technique: Two Ways
- How to Make Koftay
- Making the Koftay ka Salan
- Kofta Curry FAQs:
- What do I serve with Koftay?
However, my attempts at recreating them here (Canada) and as a food blogger just didn't work. Here is why
1.) As written those koftas looked beautiful, but came out harder - I wanted ones that would easily break under "I am eating them with roti" pressure.
2.) The original recipe had khashkhaash or poppy seeds and my Instagram friends tell me it's not even available in many Muslim countries and they wanted a recipe without.
3.) Those recipes required some doing - whether it was hand ground meat or onions prepped two ways (one caramelized, one not) - I knew those recipes would be too involved for the average home cook.
What makes this Koftay Recipe a success
So after many, many, many tests here is what we have, a Kofta Curry that
1.) has easy to make koftas that stay tender
2.) has that classic koftay ka salan flavour which comes from how the onions are prepped, the spices balanced, and the yoghurt at the end.
While these koftay are not entirely smooth what they are is entirely delicious and relatively easy to make. Let's call that a win shall we?
Ingredients for Koftay ka Salan
For the Meat Mix:
- Extra lean beef - fat melts away and distorts your final kofta
- 1 onion
- Herbs: Mint leaves and Coriander/Cilantro Leaves
- Spices" Red Chilli Powder or Cayenne, Roasted Cumin Powder (ideal, but regular works too), Roasted Coriander Powder (same as above), Garam Masala
- Ginger and Garlic Paste
- Roasted besan or chickpea flour
- A slice of bread soaked in milk
For the Curry/Salan:
- Oil for cooking
- Whole spices - cassia bark/cinnamon, whole black pepper, cardamom, and cumin seeds
- Ginger and Garlic
- Powdered spices - coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder.
- Green Chillies and Cilantro
Cooking Technique: Two Ways
There are two approaches to cooking a kofta curry. One is where you brown the meatballs, remove them from the pan and then add them back when the gravy is ready. The other - which is what I have adopted - is where you add your uncooked meatballs directly into the curry and simmer for 30 minutes. The resulting dish has a more flavorful curry, koftay that stay soft and it's the easier approach.
How to Make Koftay
Pulse your cilantro, chilies, mint, and onion in a food process until minced. Add remaining Kofta ingredients and mix just enough to form a paste.
(pssst if you want to minimize the washing you can make the onion paste for the salan in the food processor before making the meat mix!)
Kofta tip: Make sure you process it just enough that it comes together. Over processed meat can get tough.
Shape into a golfball sized balls. Makes 12.
Kofta Salan MUST DO: Always fry a test meatball (a smaller one is fine) to see if you are happy with the balance.
It should taste good at this point, but it will taste even better when simmered in the curry.
Making the Koftay ka Salan
Whisk your dahi or yogurt until it's lump free and place it somewhere near where you're cooking (to help it get warm). Puree your onions. Heat oil in your pan on medium high heat and add the whole spices.
When they start to crackle then add your onions. The onions will take a little time (about 8-10 minutes) to brown because the moisture needs to dry out before they can caramelize a little. Resist the urge to expedite the process by cranking up the heat!
When the onions get nicely bronzed it's standard procedure. You add your ginger and garlic, give it a whirl, and then a minute later add your spices to make a fragrant masala. Now goes in some hot water, bring it to a boil and then lower to a simmer.
Now gently add your meatballs to the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes, covered and on low heat. A gentle press should reveal tender koftay. Take your salan off the heat and add your yogurt (tips on avoiding splitting in FAQs).
Return the salan to the heat and let it simmer until the yogurt is absorbed into your masala paste. Adjust consistency to your liking by either cooking down the salan or adding water and then adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Kofta Curry FAQs:
1.) Can I make these koftay with chicken?
I haven't tried this particular iteration with chicken but a friend had and she was pleased with the outcome.
2.) How do I prevent my yogurt from splitting?
Yogurt splits because of a temperature difference between the curry and the yogurt. The best way to make the temperatures similar is to take a dollop of your salan, whisk it into your yogurt. Do this at least twice or until your yogurt feels warm and add your yogurt with the pot off the heat.
3.) Can I freeze koftay?
Absolutely. My mother always has a stash and you should too. While the entire dish can be frozen (true story), most people opt to prep their meatballs, flash freeze them and transfer into a freezer safe container/bag.
4.) How do i fix overly soft meatballs?
If your meat is watery your meatballs will be too. Anything that absorbs moisture - half a piece of bread, a little breadcrumbs, besan even, will offset that.
5.) My meatballs are too hard, what do I do?
The flip of the above applies. Soak another half slice of bread with milk, drain lightly and add it your meat mix.
What do I serve with Koftay?
Menu planning is one of my most favorite things in the world. Here are some ideas for what to serve with your Kofta Curry!
Thank you for being here! Made this Koftay ka Salan? I'd love to hear your comments - share them below and do leave a recipe rating! You can also tag me on Instagram @flourandspiceblog
Koftay ka Salan or Kofta Curry
- 1 food processor
- 1 pot for cooking the curry
- 1 lb extra lean beef keema
- 3 tbsp roasted besan (chickpea flour)
- 1 onion (tennis ball sized)
- 5-6 mint leaves
- ⅓ cup dhania or coriander/cilantro
- 3 green chilies (tops removed)
- ¾ tsp ginger paste
- ¾ tsp garlic paste
- 1 slice of bread, crusts removed, sprinkled with 2 tbsp milk
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tbsp coriander powder (roasted preferred)
- ½ tbsp cumin powder (roasted preferred)
- ¾ tsp red chilli powder
- ¼ tsp garam masala
Kofta Salan Ingredients
- 3 onions
- 1 inch long piece cassia bark or cinnamon
- ½ tsp whole black pepper
- 2-3 green cardamom pods
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp green chilli paste (optional) can use two finely diced green chilies instead - it'll change the colour, but add great flavour.
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ¾ tsp cumin powder
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ tsp garam masala
- additional cilantro for garnishing
Making the Koftay
- Run your onion, chilies, mint and cilantro through the food processor.
- Now add your remaining ingredients and blitz just enough to make a paste. Stop after a few seconds to scrape the sides and make sure it's all mixing well. Tips on adjusting consistency in FAQs.
- Fry a small test piece, adjust seasoning.
- Shape the koftay - mine are roughly 40g each. Remember to press to bring it together before rolling. Greasing your hands or even wetting them will make it easier.
Making the Koftay ka Salan
- Whisk the yogurt and set aside.Puree the onions with v little water or grate them.
- Heat a generous amount of oil in a pot and add your whole spices.
- Now add your pureed onions and saute for 8-10 minutes on medium heat until they look a little caramelly - this is what gives koftay ka salan it's distinctive flavour.
- Add your green chilli paste (if using), ginger and garlic pastes, saute for a minute and then add your spices and saute until it all comes together.
- Add 2 cups of hot water to the base, bring it to a boil, lower to a simmer and add the koftay.
- Simmer the koftay (covered) for 30-35 minutes.
- Now take the pot off the heat and add your yogurt. You can warm up the yogurt by adding a little salan to the yogurt - this prevents splitting.
- Adjust consistency, then seasoning. Sprinkle the garam masala over and garnish with cilantro and dig in!