Meatballs/Kababs in Gravy/Koftas

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Average: 5 (2 votes)
Serves 3-4

This Meatballs recipe is a 'steamed' version, where the kababs are cooked in the gravy itself instead of having to fry them separately. This makes them super moist and soft, and waaay healthier than frying them then dipping them into the curry.

They go well with spaghetti, rice, rotis, garlic bread, etc etc. The gravy can be thickened further or left as is, depending on what dish you plan to serve them with.

Ingredients for Meatballs
500 g
beef mince (lean/no fat)
- mix beef mince with ingredients below, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
1 tbsp.
2 tbsp.
chopped coriander
chopped green chillies
a pinch of chilli powder or some red chilli flakes
a dash of lemon juice
(too much lemon will make the meatballs hard)
1/2 tsp.
turmeric powder
1 tsp.
garlic paste
1/2 tsp.
ginger paste
1 tsp.
grinded cumin powder
1 tsp.
garam masala
1 tbsp.
Ingredients for Masala/Gravy
fresh tomatoes
(blended with skin)
grated onions
1 tbsp.
tomato paste/puree
1 tsp.
(to cut down the acidity of tomatoes)
bunch of coriander
1/2 tsp.
each ginger & garlic pastes
4 tbsp.
1 tsp.
cumin powder or any spices of choice

Heat the oil, sauté the onions until nice and golden, add the ginger+garlic paste, followed by the tomato paste. Stir and add the spices, then add the blended tomatoes (I blend them with 2-3 green chillies and some coriander sticks) and the sugar+salt. Cook the sauce until it thickens, adding a bit of water when it gets too thick. Once ready, taste and adjust salt.

Start shaping the meatballs. Make sure you DONT OVER-SHAPE THEM. Do not keep pressing them to make the perfect ball, this normally hardens them. Keep your hand light and shape gently, placing on a plate...and then start plopping them one by one into the simmering sauce. Do not stir immediately, give them 2 minutes then using a small spoon turn each meatball over one by one and cooking them for another 3 minutes so the other side may get done.

I normally do this in batches, removing the cooked meatballs from the sauce onto a plate when I'm about to do the next batch so the first batch doesn't get over-cooked...keep going until all are done.

Then slowly plop all the cooked meatballs back into the sauce and give them a good gentle simmer on low heat for about 10-15mins. Try to mix them by swirling the cooking vessel instead of stirring with a spoon to avoid breaking the meatballs. Adjust salt/chilli. Garnish with chopped coriander and you can squeeze a bit of extra lemon if you like and a light sprinkle of garam masala. Turn off the heat and serve hot!


usually beef takes longer to cook -( 30 mins in pressure cooker )(i am still at learning stages) so will minced beef takes longer too as i will be cooking them in the sauce? i will be making about 2 inches big meat balls, can u tell me how long will it take to cook minced beef in the sauce? and what happens when meat balls will be over cooked? how would i know if they are over cooked? thank you

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Mince will normally take shorter to cook because the meat is broken down into tiny particles. In the sauce, meatballs should take about 20-25 minutes from start to finish to get done. If they are over-cooked they would turn hard.

Can I substitute chicken mince instead if ground beef? If so will the recipe or method change?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Yes you can, and no the recipe and method remain the same.

Asalamo alikuim Dear Fauzia...i made these kofta today and the best part about them was the sauce that tasted yummy.
Jazaki khair ya ukti habibti!

Salam, Can we use the same ingredients to make chicken kofte ?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, yes you can.

Thanks for all the recipes Fauzia.

Just one question. Is it compulsory to refrigerate the meat balls?? Grateful if you could clarify.

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

It helps hold the meatballs together but not necessary, you can skip that step.

Salam Fauzia

Can you please mention which spices to add in the gravy along with their quantity. I am new to cooking and do not know much about making kofta gravy. Also can you mention what should be the total weight of tomatoes for gravy because eight tomatoes sound a lot since the tomatoes i have are bigger than usual tomatoes i see in recipes.

Appreciate your help.

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, 1 tsp each of cumin and coriander powder and a quarter tsp turmeric powder is good enough. If you like the gravy spicier you can add a tad of chilli powder or paprika. Tomatoes should be around 500gm.

Thanks much!

asslam alaikum.. I have made koftas lots of time in my life.. But i always use egg in the meat balls to ensure binding.. Once i forgot to add egg.. They broke away and i had to make qeema curry instead of kofta curry. :D

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, I guess it's a matter of preference. You can use egg if you like, but if your mince is DRY (no excess moisture) and you put the koftas in hot gravy, then they should not fall apart. Have been making these without egg all my life and never had a problem. :)

Salaam Fauzia,
Can I omit the breadcrumbs as I do not have any?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

You can crumble up some bread and measure the equivalent.

My gravy has become sweetish what should I do?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Add some spice to it, like chillies.

Is there a substitute for bread for people with glutton intolerance ?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Sorry at the moment I do not have a gluten free recipe for bread.

can we use canned tomatoes...or will it give metal flavor?

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

Yes you can, although I always prefer fresh.

Assalaamualaikum.....i tried dis recipe using chcken mince plus i omitted d breacrumbs..d koftas turned hard???y so???

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, you need to be very careful not to overcook the koftas when using chicken mince as it cooks fast and dries out quickly thereby making the koftas hard. Try using chicken thighs mince as it contains a bit more moisture than chicken breast mince.

Assalam Aleykum, I have tried this recipe more than once but every time my koftas are dry from inside? although the end result and taste is good, just that I get disappointed with dry koftas from inside. Please advise where I'm going wrong and also suggest remedy for that. Jazakallah.

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, you may be using very lean mince which has no fat in it OR overcooking the meatballs and thereby drying them out.

Assalamu aleikum Fauzia
Can I substitute fresh coriander for fresh parsley in this recipe? Or it's better to simply omit coriander?
Jazak Allahu Khair

Fauzia's Kitchen Fun's picture

W/Salaam, yes you can.

Jazak Allahu Khair
I added parsley instead of coriander, it turned out excellent.