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Nargisi (Malai) Kofta Curry
Nargisi Sabji Kofte

Sumeet Chandra Ray

Note from Mamta: This is a great tasting dish, served with chapatties and other vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it is not as difficult as it looks! You can use vegetables other than the ones mentioned here. This recipe comes from my younger sister Reeta’s cook in Delhi in the 1990's. He was always experimenting with new dishes. I sometimes wonder how good these family cooks would be, if they got a chance to be professional chefs? Mamta. Serves 6-8

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Ingredients

For Koftas:
2 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
1/2 cup fresh green peas (if using frozen peas, cook them less)
1 cup grated bottle gourd (lauki/dudhi/sweet gourd) or courgettes (tori/turai) or Zuchetta
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup cauliflower pieces
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. plain, white flour or maida. You may need more, if 2 tbsp. doesn't bind the mix.
Salt to taste (approximately 1 1/2 tsp.)
Oil for deep frying
For Gravy or curry sauce (you can also use a Basic Curry Sauce of your choice):
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds. You can also add a bay leaf, cinnamon stick, couple of large cardamoms and 5-6 cloves with cumin seeds
1 onion, peeled and finely grated*
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated*
2 cloves garlic, grated* (optional)
4 medium tomatoes, puréed. You can use tinned tomatoes.
2 tsp. coriander powder or dhania
1/4 tsp. chilli powder, adjust to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder or haldi
1 tsp. Garam Masala
Salt to taste
5 tbsp. fresh double cream or malaai
A handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped, to garnish
*These three can be chopped together in a food processor.

Instructions

1.Making Koftas:
2.Squeeze water out of grated bottle gourd/courgettes and keep aside. Keep water to add to curry gravy.
3.Boil or steam or microwave cook carrots, peas, potatoes and cauliflower together, until tender (4-6) minutes. If frozen peas are used, add them only for last couple of minutes.
4.Drain fully and allow to cool in the strainer/colander.
5.Mash these vegetables and add to squeezed bottle gourd/courgettes, along with black pepper, plain flour and salt. Mix well. It should be of a consistency that can be made into balls/koftas.
6.Heat the oil in a wok or karahi on high and then reduce to medium heat. Test if the right temperature is reached by dropping a small ball of mix in oil. It should sizzle and rise to the top. If it doesn’t, oil is not hot enough. If the test ball it breaks up, you need to add more binding agent like plain flour/egg/bread crumbs***.
7.Now make batches of small balls, using about 1 tbsp. mix for each ball. If you wet your hands, making balls/koftas becomes much easier.
8.Gently drop them in the oil from the side of the wok and fry until each kofta ball is evenly browned. Keep the fried koftas aside on an absorbent paper, to remove excess oil.
9.Making Gravy:
10.Heat the oil in a pan.
11.Add cumin seeds (and bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamoms and cloves, if used). Once cumin splutter/turn brown, add onion/ginger/garlic mix and fry until light brown.
12.Now add puréed tomatoes, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Stir fry until oil separates (5 minutes or so).
13.Add 2 cups water, bring to boil and simmer briskly for 5 minutes.
14.Before serving, heat the gravy, add cream/malaai, garam masala, stir gently and turn heat off. Stir in half the coriander leaves.
15.Place koftas in the serving bowl. A shallow bowl is better, so that koftas do not overlap. Pour the gravy over. Keep warm on a hot plate if possible, or heat gently in a microwave. Heating for longer or re-boiling will break the koftas, so be careful.
16.Just before serving, decorate with the remaining 1 tbsp. of the cream and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
17.Serve with Chapatties or Plain Parathas.

Notes

***If your kofta mix is too soft or runny to shape into balls or your test ball is too fragile and breaks up when fried, add fresh bread crumbs (1 large or 2 small white bread slices, crumbed in a food processor) or one lightly beaten egg or 1-2 tbsp. more white flour than given in the recipe. Some vegetables are more watery and need more of the binder.

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