Today I had an intense craving for Kofta Curry. My mother makes a mean version. And in my imagination it is even more delicious in the dampness of the monsoon. It was 30 degrees C today and then we had some unexpected, beautiful, warm afternoon rain. It felt like I was home in Bombay.
Yesterday, I received Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s amazing cookbook Jerusalem in the mail. I’ve been eyeing it ever since it was published this past october. I can’t wait to start cooking from it. Their book showcases the incredible diversity of Jerusalem cuisine: did you know Uzbek Jews make a ‘plov’ so reminiscent of an Indian pulao? One note that shines through is the use of fresh herbs. The recipes are all about greens–parsley, coriander, mint, dill. Yotam Ottolenghi owns several restaurants in London, including Nopi, a high-end restaurant in London. The recipes, which he develops with friend and collaborator Tamimi, have classic middle eastern flavors. But they also have flare–they are stylish and interesting. It struck me today that so much of the freshness of their approach comes from an emphasis on fresh herbs.
I decided to use a similar approach for a classic Indian Kofta curry, substituting fresh coriander leaves for the ground coriander seed that is usually called for in most curries. I did add a dash of ground turmuric (great for memory) and a dash of cumin and cayenne. But the emphasis is on the beef, coriander, and lemon.
I didn’t have red onions on hand so I substituted spring onions, which only added to the brightness of the curry.
This curry has delicate, mild flavors and a wonderful earthiness from the fresh coriander leaves and stem.
1/2 pound ground beef
1 bunch green onions or scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh coriander (leaves and stem) roughly chopped+ 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or kashmiri chilly powder
2 plum tomatos
1 cup water
1. In a bowl, combine 1/4 of the chopped scallions, 1/2 cup of coriander and ground beef. Add the juice of half a lemon and mix well.
4. In the same pan, add the remaining scallions and garlic and saute for five minutes, until translucent on a medium flame. Add the turmeric, cumin, cayenne and 1 cup of chopped coriander. Saute for 3 minutes.
5. Add the tomatos and 1 cup of water. Mix well.
6. Then return meatballs to the pan. Adjust for salt.
7. Bring to a boil. Then turn the flame down, partially cover and cook for 30 minutes until the curry comes together.
8. Garnish with coriander.
9. Serve over rice with a cucumber raita.