Delhi-Style Lamb Meatball Curry
Suffused with warming spices and enriched with coconut and ghee, this saucy main is a dinnertime knockout.
1 hour 30 minutes
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Hidden at the bottom of the menu of my favorite Indian to-go joint is a section devoted to kofta, Indian-style meatballs bobbing in rich, spicy gravy. For months, kofta night was my weekly self-care ritual: close laptop, order meatballs, crack open a beer, sleep like a baby. But then I went broke and had to kick my takeout habit.
So I resolved to make kofta myself. Drawing from a recipe in Pushpesh Pant’s India, The Cookbook, I set out to replicate (or at least approximate) the dish I’d grown to crave—that sauce that popped with mustard seeds and cumin, those meatballs flecked with fresh cilantro, that soul-satisfying scent of coconut and ghee. With a dozen trial runs (literally) under my belt, I can finally say, I did it. Meet my dream kofta recipe, which is not only tastier than the restaurant version but a one-pot wonder, to boot. For richer, for poorer, long live kofta night.
- ¼ cup ghee, or vegetable oil
- 3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh ginger, plus more, thinly sliced, for garnish
- 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. ground coriander seeds
- 1½ tsp. aniseed, lightly crushed
- 1½ tsp. cumin seeds, lightly crushed
- 1½ tsp. ground Kashmiri chile, or scant ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1½ tsp. nigella seeds
- 1½ lb. ground lamb
- 1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves, divided, plus more for garnish
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
- One 14 ½-oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- ¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
- 1½ tsp. garam masala
- Lime wedges and toasted shaved coconut, for garnish
- Cooked basmati rice, chapati, or paratha, for serving (optional)