Alright.. Snowed in. No fresh veggies and in absolute cranky , cabin fever mood. I mean really I love the snow as long as I can see it not live with it, and for me to be iced in with snow , sleet and rain is like a big Oh No! . With due apologies to folks in the NJ, NY, Chicago and Dc area etc. You see in Cary, NC, a couple of inches of snow and ice is a big thing! We don’t usually get it and when we do, we love it. But this time twice in 3 week span was a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong the first time was amazing and we sooooo loved it. Second time ,with schools out again for another 3 days, we were so ready to be done with it.
So while the landscape resembled a Yash Chopra film, pretty snow covered grounds, a white blanket of romance awaiting those who are willing to indulge in it I suppose – Snowman and strong forts assembled, snow angels made, snowball fights and hot cocoa.. Eventually the younglings tend to wander in from the damp cold into the warmth of the house. Their utter fascination with snow exhausted for the day and hopeful of renewing it the next day ( unlike their mom’s – it usually lasts an hour or two with me ). But then you do need to feed the bellies.. And you want something , hot, nice, with a bit of spice ( blame it on the genes ), maybe even indulging in some deep fried stuff. And something different. And something special!
A1,2,3 all love this fare and A3 my youngest claims “kofta” is his favorite vegetable. In all honesty, necessity is the mother of invention.
Inspiration : Contents of the pantry and the fridge .
Scavenging results yield: 4 onions + 2 tomatoes + ginger + 2 potatos + few sprigs of cilantro +1 can of diced tomatoes + handful of spinach leaves + a few green chillies
And drum roll please… ” star of the show “ : A neglected packet of MTR Gulab Jamun mix expiring in 3 months time or so.
Thinking hat on :
Gulab Jamun mix is obviously a mix of milk powder and all purpose flour with a pinch of soda bi-carb to it. It has a mild taste to it , which gets deviously delicious after soaking in flavored sugar syrup..( I mean a wallflower all dressed up, and the makeover lands her the prom queen title kind of analogy ).
In any case, these became the faux malai koftas of my creation.
FAQ : Prep time : 45 – 60 min ( including frying the kofta balls ) Yield : 24-36 Kofta balls Consumption time : Instant
A. Dry Spice grind : Initial Grind
Roast all these in about a 1 tsp of oil and set it aside to cool and pulverize later on. Don’t be daunted by the ingredient list or by the exact measurements. Use your own substitutions if required.
- Poppy seeds : 1 tsp
- Elaichi or green cardamom : 4-6 . I used it in their skins
- Cashews – whole or broken – about 12
- Almonds with skin – 6-8
- cloves – 2
- cinnamon stick – 1”
- fennel seeds or sauf – 1/2 tsp
- Jeera – 1/2 tsp
Roast and grind these well into a coarse powder initially and then add a few tablespoons of water to make a thick paste of sorts in the blender.
B. The gravy aka the base :
Saute all these in the sequential order of listing here in about 1-2 tbsp of oil and wait for it to cool down before blending to a thick , smooth chutney like consistency.
- finely chopped ginger – 1 inch
- optional : 2 cloves of garlic
- Onions : 3 ( chopping these finely will make them sautéed faster )
- Then add in the diced tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes
- Sautee well till you see reduction in the mass 🙂
- Let it cool before you blend it into a smooth paste. No need to add water.
C. Making the Kofta balls
- Boil the potatoes and mash it well.
- To this add finely diced 2 green chillies. Remember , the spice is to tickle the palate .. not kill it.
- Add in 1 small onion , finely chopped as well
- Add in 1 inch of finely grated ginger
- Add 1/2 tsp of crushed kasuri methi
- Add in a handful of finely chopped spinach leaves
- Add in a few spits of finely chopped cilantro as well.
- Add in some salt, say about 1/2 – 3/4 tsp of it.
- Optional : you can add more spices or masalas to this mix at this point if you feel like it
- Add in the gulab jamun mix in stages to bind this . If required add in a few tablespoons of water to bind it well .
- Your dough should resemble a big golf ball or a couple of big golf balls depending on the base mix. See that’s the best part, this recipe is entirely scalable to your needs 🙂
- Make small lemon sized ball out of this. Remember these swell up in the gravy base, so don’t make it too big !
- To fry – Fry these in medium to high heat alternate settings in a flavorless vegetable oil. You need to maintain the temp of the oil using the alternate settings so you cook it thoroughly . You don’t want burnt kofta balls or a half cooked mess on your hands !
Final prep stages :
- In a large non stick wide mouth saucepan or kadai , add one tsp of oil. Add in some cumin seeds and on sputtering, add in a tsp of crushed kasuri methi.
- Add in the purred tomato onion base and the ground masala paste with 1/2 cup of water.
- Let this boil for a min or two. Check for the salt and pieces and thickness of the gravy, You do not want it too thick or a runny base either. Most likely you will need to add in 1/2 tsp of chili powder if you need to up the spice ante and some salt to taste. You will also notice a possible oil separation on the top layer. Turn off the stove or maintain it in low heat, until ready to serve.
To serve: Kofta buildup
Do this just before serving dinner. Nope you cannot do it ahead of time. And if you do it ahead of time, the kofta balls will get too mushy and soggy.
Place the required number of warm koftas in a serving bowl and add the hot gravy to it. That’s it.
No need to mix or swirl or anything else. A swirl of fresh cream can do wonders and turn this faux dish to near authentic. But honestly, drenching the balls with the gravy and garnishing it with cilantro is just good enough.
Serve it with hot phulkas and a cup of steaming basmati rice !