Pakistanis’ love for the succulent kofta curry

According to the traditions, formal dinners are not complete without the succulent kofta curry.

Bushra Fatima June 30, 2015
The kofta curry, also known as the meatballs curry, is a sophisticated dish. It is not as most of us tend to believe, indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Delicious meatball dishes and meat loafs can be found in various Middle-Eastern, central Asian, Turkish, and Mediterranean cuisines. There is no fixed size of meatballs; it varies from the size of an orange to the size of a golf ball.

The word ‘kofta’ is derived from the classical Persian verb kōftan which means ‘to beat’ or to mince. Hence the grounded meat is mixed with a range of spices. Koftas can include variety of fillings, thus it may or may not be made of meat. For instance, vegetarian koftas are famous in India; they are filled with paneer (hung cheese) or with potatoes and zucchini.

Interestingly enough, fish and shrimp koftas are also enjoyed in certain parts of the world. Koftas are commonly served with a rich curry in Pakistan and according to the traditions, formal dinners are not complete without the succulent kofta curry. Our kofta curries are commonly made of mutton, chicken or beef mince, and we occasionally stuff the meat ball with hardboiled egg. This is similar to the Nargisi Kofta dish; the difference being that the eggs are not coated with meat. Kofta curries are enjoyed with rice, but a variety of flat breads can also compliment the dish.

So today, I would like to share my mother’s mouth–watering recipe of the delicious kofta curry.


For koftas (meatballs):

Mincemeat – ½ kg (beef, mutton or chicken)

Onion – 1 ½ (finely chopped)

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ¼tsp

Garam masala (ground spices) powder – 1/2 tsp

Pea flour – 2 tbsp (roasted and grinded)

Khashkhash (poppy seeds) – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp


Ginger and Garlic paste – ½ tbsp

For curry:

Oil – ¼ cup

Onion – 1 ½ (finely chopped)

Ginger and Garlic paste – ½ tbsp

Whole black pepper – 5 to 6

Tomatoes – 2 (large and blended)

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

Yogurt – 1 cup (whipped)


Boiled eggs (optional)


For koftas: (Around 14 to 15 meatballs can be made using this mixture)

1. Take the minced meat and add chopped onions and ginger garlic paste.

2. Add the spices to the meat mixture: red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder.

3. Grind the split pea flour and khashkhash together by adding a bit of water so it forms a thick paste.

4. Add the paste to the meat mixture, along with salt and a little oil.

5. Mix the mixture well with your hands so it makes a smooth unvarying texture. (This can also be done using a food processor).

6. Now slightly oil your hands and make golf ball-sizes meatballs. Set them aside on a plate.

For curry:

1. Take a pot which has a considerably bigger surface area on medium to high heat.

2. Add oil along chopped onions and fry them until they turn golden (not brown).

3. Add whole black pepper and ginger garlic paste and fry for two minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

5. Cover and cook until the tomatoes are tender. This should take about five to six minutes on medium heat.

6. Add whipped yogurt, then cover the pot again for another five to six minutes.

7. Stir on medium–high heat, until the curry is thick and smooth.

8. Now lower the flame to medium–low and add your meatballs.

9. Do not mix or use a spoon for any purpose; just add them to the curry and cover the pot for about 15 minutes.

10. Turn the meatballs to check if it’s cooked all around and cover the pot for another five to seven minutes.

11. Add water for lighter gravy at this point and let it cook on low heat by keeping the pot covered until the oil floats on top.

12. You can add boiled eggs cut in half before serving.

Enjoy the delicious kofta curry with plain rice or flatbread!
Bushra Fatima
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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RFD | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend There you have it. you are from Punjab. Which would be considered Northern India. technically. You are right. There is a recipe for 'Lamb Kofta Curry' in the afore mentioned book. Rogan Josh, Chicken Dopiaza, Lahore Style Lamb, King Prawns with stir fried spices, stir fried chili-garlic Prawns. Karhai Lamb, Karhai Gosht, Madras Beef Curry, Parsi Prawn Curry,...this is a fabulous recipe book.150+ recipes in there. You are correct, recipes handed down from generation to generation are much better, than from a book, or Googling Am ethnic Chitrali, though an expat. Dishes tend to run towards lamb and some chicken in the far Northern region. Though beef is available. Personally, prefer beef over lamb.
wb | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend I can make it with lamb. I'm a fantastic cook, you're welcome to come to my home once and eat some chilly prawns or chilly chicken (my best recipe).
Supriya Arcot | 5 years ago Paneer / Soya / Lentil balls all can serve this purpose.
RFD | 5 years ago Thanks for the invite. Would take up the invitation, except it will take two days to get to India, by Emirates, from here. That is if you live in India.
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