K is for Kofta… Chicken Kofta

So in the ‘A to Z of Cooking from the Heart’, I’ve jumped from ‘C’ to ‘K’… But we’re finally into a new year and the calendar says 2012 in giant letters. Which means that if the Mayans got it right, we may be eating our last couple of meals before the lights go out, and we’re headed to who knows where.

Oops!

Now, I’m really sorry if my dark sense of humour put the frights into you, but it’s something that slips out of me quite inadvertently, even though I try to rein it in.

Honestly… I do.

But speaking of heading out on journeys, I’m not one of those who can travel on a full stomach. For one, I’m prone to motion sickness, so I always eat light before I hit the road. And then I’m not one of those people who’d be into huge or heavy last meals, given a choice. I’d much rather have something light, but tasty. And most definitely something that reminds me of home…

Some ‘koftas’ perhaps?

Now to the uninitiated… ‘koftas’ are nothing but spicy meatballs. And because I wanted to keep it light I decided to use chicken. Cooking those juicy  morsels in a chunky but light tomato gravy flavoured with whole spices, and a hint of a few ground spices.

Unlike a lot of Indians however, I’m not too partial to heavy masala based gravies, unless the recipe absolutely calls for it, but I tend to favour green chillies. This recipe uses 3 hot (spicy) green chillies, and I kept the seeds in. But you are free to use less and remove the seeds too if you cannot handle the heat.

For the koftas I used –

1 1/2 cups of lean minced chicken

1/2 medium sized red onion, chopped fine

3 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander

2 large cloves of garlic (minced)

1/2″ piece of ginger (minced)

3 green chillies chopped (but of course!)

1 egg

Mixing it all together with –

1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper

2 teaspoons freshly roasted and pounded cumin

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon of garam masala…

Forming the mixture into the koftas, and refrigerating them for about an hour for the flavours to come together. This also helps the koftas hold their shape when you lower them into the simmering gravy.

For the gravy –

3 large ripe tomatoes, blanched and chopped

1 small red onion, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup chicken stock

4 whole green cardamoms

1 – 2 ” stick of cinnamon

4 cloves 

5 – 7 peppercorns coarsely crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 green chilli (with or without seeds)

… Sauté the onion in the oil till translucent and add the whole spices, frying them on a low flame for a couple of minutes, before adding the tomatoes and the salt. Break down the tomatoes a bit with the back of the ladle. Then cover and cook for 15 minutes, adding the warm chicken stock, and letting the gravy (sauce) come to a boil.

Reduce the flame and add in the koftas, one at a time, dropping them gently into the gravy. It’s important not to stir the koftas or move them around at this stage to prevent them from breaking up.

Cover and cook for 20 minutes or till the gravy has reduced to half or less

These koftas are light, delicate and full of the natural flavours of the spices and the other aromatics that went into them…. You can serve them with some crusty bread, or with some rice.

I served them with a pea and cumin basmati pilaf.

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