Masala Kababs/Koftas

Servings : Serves 3-4

Amazingly soft, spicy and utterly delicious saucy kababs/koftas (meatballs)…perfect to have with plain rice or naans or even with spaghetti!

Ingredients for Kababs

  • 500gm lean beef mince (no fat)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small bunch coriander leaves with stems, chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 slice bread soaked in milk
  • 2 tbsp beaten egg (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. tandoori masala
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Ingredients for Masala/Gravy

  • 3 onions, chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup oil (you can use up the one you fried kababs in)
  • 5 fresh tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup yoghurt, fresh and whipped
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. fresh methi/fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • chopped coriander for garnishing


For the Kababs

Put the chopped onion, coriander, ginger, garlic pastes and chillies in a processor and grind until smooth, try not to use any water for this. Next, add the minced meat and process together with the green paste until well combined and the mixture is very very smooth.

Turn it out into a bowl, add the cumin, turmeric, tandoori, black pepper and salt. Mix well. Squeeze out the milk from the soaked bread then add the bread into the mixture. Discard the milk. Add the egg if you are using it. Knead the mixture properly for about 3-5 minutes until everything is very well combined. Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Shape the meatballs (make sure they are very smooth and round) and then lightly shallow fry them in very little oil preferably in a non-stick pan, just for a couple of minutes on each side. Drain and set aside. They will cook further in the gravy/masala, so don’t over-cook them at this point. If they crack a little bit during frying, don’t panic, they will be covered in gravy later so the small imperfections won’t show, just be gentle when adding them to the hot oil and lifting them out.

For the Masala/Gravy

Heat the oil in a deep pot. Add the methi leaves, followed by the cumin seeds, cinnamon and cardamom. Once they splutter, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Next add the fresh tomatoes and fry until they dry up and all excess moisture is gone. Add the garlic and ginger pastes, followed by the tomato paste. Sprinkle salt, cumin, chilli, turmeric and coriander powders. Cook together until the oil is released from the sides. Then add the whipped yoghurt and cook until the gravy is thick and cooked through. Sprinkle the sugar and mix well.

Next, add some water (about half to one cup…just enough to immerse the kababs in). Once the water simmers, reduce the heat to low and then gently add the fried kababs. Cover and simmer on low heat to cook the kababs through. Every once in a while, open the pot and gently swirl everything together so that the gravy coats the kababs and they get turned over so that they may cook evenly on all sides.

Once the kababs are fully cooked, adjust salt, add the chopped green chilli and garam masala, garnish with coriander and serve!

If the kababs are cooked and you have too much gravy, gently remove the kababs with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl. Simmer the gravy on its own until it reduces in volume to the consistency you like. Once ready, slip the kababs back in and give them a swirl. Done! 🙂

If you want a slightly smoother gravy, before adding the kababs into it, you can blend HALF of the gravy and then pour it back into the pot and add the kababs.

Enjoy! 🙂

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