Kofta curry is a delicious dish of succulent grilled or broiled beef meatballs in a rich, creamy and spicy sauce. It is full of fragrant Indian spices and makes a great weeknight dinner. This low carb meatball curry is also freezer friendly. Great tips for lightening it up also included.
Grilled Meatball (Kofta Kebabs) Curry
Kofta kebabs are grilled meatballs that are popular in the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. They are made with ground meat, fragrant spices and herbs.
Here in this kofta curry recipe I have broiled them for ease of preparation. Also, the process of grilling or broiling imparts a nice flavor. Some fat is also released out of the meatballs. And the rapid cooking process makes the meatballs juicy.
Many traditional recipes use cream to add richness to this gravy. But I use yogurt instead of cream to achieve a rich consistency for this meatball curry.
See the buzz about this Kofta Curry (Meatball Curry).
How To Make Kofta Curry (Overview)
**Full recipe at end of post.
- Combine all the kofta (meatballs) ingredients, knead well into a smooth mixture and set it aside.
- Shape smooth and cylindrical (or round) koftas and broil on high on both sides. Alternatively the meatballs may be grilled or barbecued.
- Sauté chopped onions over medium heat until golden brown. Add ginger and garlic paste and stir. Then add the spices (garam masala, paprika, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder), salt and stir well.
- Next, add chili peppers, tomato paste and stir 2 minutes. Then add crushed tomatoes. Stir in whipped yogurt and fenugreek leaves. Add water and let it simmer until some oil surfaces on the top.
- Add koftas and adjust seasoning and consistency as needed. Raise the heat until it starts bubbling and then simmer. Garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of cream.
- Juicy & Flavorful: One key step I often use while making meatballs is to add grated onion. This imparts a nice onion flavor and also makes them soft and moist. Some recipes also use grated zucchini to keep meatballs juicy.
- Right Temperature & Time: The beef meatballs should be broiled or grilled quickly at high temperature to brown the meat well on the exterior. If it is not done at the right temperature and it takes too long, then the meatballs can become dry.
- Don't Overcook: Just broil the koftas until they are brown on the surface. They don't have to cook fully inside while broiling. Then simmer meatballs in sauce.
- Cook Tomatoes Well: Make sure that the tomatoes are well cooked before adding the yogurt. Otherwise the yogurt will curdle and the gravy will not be smooth and will look messy.
- Grass Fed Dairy: I like to use creamy whole milk yogurt. Be sure to use grass fed dairy products whenever you can, that way you get more of the CLA that I talk about in this post below.
- Rich & Creamy: The gravy in this beef meatball curry recipe is pretty rich and creamy with the addition of yogurt. But if you want to add a richer flavor for special occasions, then you could drizzle some ghee or cream on the top, just at the end of the cooking process.
- Gluten Free: Replace the breadcrumbs with chickpea flour to make gluten free kofta curry.
- Stove Top: If you wanted to make these koftas on stove top, then try using a cast iron skillet and drain the fat.
Koftas are basically meatballs made with ground meat, such as from beef, lamb, chicken or turkey. The meat is combined with grated onions, spices and herbs.
Ground lamb koftas are popular. But using a combination of ground lamb and ground beef is also common, which combines the robust flavor of beef with the tenderness of lamb.
It is traditionally served with steamed rice or naan, salads and yogurt. But you can serve them with brown rice, couscous, quinoa and other grains. Koftas can be used to make wraps, sandwiches and filled pitas with salad vegetables and other dips.
The kofta mixture can be made ahead during the day and refrigerated, so you can just grab it to cook at dinner time. The meatballs (koftas) can be made ahead, refrigerated or frozen.
Thaw the koftas and follow with rest of the recipe. Add water to adjust the consistency when reheating, as the sauce thickens during cooking and storage.
Nutrition Facts and Benefits
Meatball curry has an extensive list of ingredients. But the two main ingredients I will elaborate about are beef and tomatoes.
I have used 90% lean beef and the broiling or grilling process will also help drain off some of the fat. Beef is a very good source of protein, some of the B vitamins (B12, Niacin, B6), zinc, selenium, phosphorus and a good source of iron.
I would suggest using grass fed beef for its relatively superior nutrition quality, as it is richer in CLA (conjugate linoleic acid) and omega-3 fats.
Research has shown that CLA is associated with several health benefits such as - prevention of cancer, reducing fat mass and increasing lean body mass, improved blood glucose tolerance, inflammatory system support and cardiovascular health. However, when it comes to red meat, moderation is recommended.
Tomatoes are a treasure house of antioxidants - a rich source of vitamin C, beta-carotene and several phytonutrients. And are well known for being an outstanding source of lycopene and its association with cancer prevention.
More Tomato Based Stews
- Khoresht Kadoo (Persian Zucchini Stew)
- Spicy tomato curry with eggs
- Spicy rosemary tomato chicken
- Egg Curry (Restaurant Style)
More Ground Meat Recipes
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Zaalouk (Moroccan Eggplant Dip)
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Prick the eggplants with a fork in couple spots and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the skin turns darker and shrinks. Check foot notes for grilling, broiling or stove top options.
- The eggplants should be cooked through completely in the center. To check, press the back of a fork on the eggplant. It should compress easily all the way into the center without any resistance.
- Cut through the eggplant skin and scoop out the soft cooked flesh and mash it with a fork and set aside.
- Chop the tomatoes into small pieces, discarding some seeds if you wish. See note below for peeled and deseeded tomatoes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan at medium setting. Add the chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne or chili powder, ⅓ teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes are softened, stirring in between, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the mashed eggplants and cilantro. Continue to cook over low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, mashing it if needed, into a thick but slightly textured dip like consistency.
- Stir in lemon juice and salt. Adjust as per taste, let it cool and transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate it overnight before serving.
- Take the zaalouk from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving and let it come to room temperature. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Garnish with cilantro and red pepper flakes if you prefer.
- Chunky Zaalouk: To make a chunkier but less traditional zaalouk, insert garlic cloves into eggplant and roast it in the oven at 400˚F, along with the tomatoes. Chop the eggplants and tomatoes. Add the spices, herbs, half the olive oil, salt and mash it up to desired consistency. Drizzle olive oil and serve.
- Cooking Eggplants:
- Grill: Roast eggplants on charcoal or gas grill for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them slowly in between, until skin turns darker and shrinks.
- Broil: Cut eggplants lengthwise into halves and place the cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Place on the second rack and broil until skin turns darker and shrinks, about 20 minutes.
- Stovetop: Peel the eggplants completely, only some stripes or leave the skin on if you don’t mind it. Cut the eggplants into small pieces. Steam on high heat until soft or cook in a pan with some water until soft and mushy.
- Easy Zaalouk: Combine all ingredients with ⅓ cup of water and cook it over stove top until softened. Mash it up well and drizzle olive oil.
- Peeled and deseeded tomatoes: If you prefer, you can blanch the tomatoes. Cut a small cross on the surface of tomatoes and dump them in hot boiling water. After a minute, pick out the tomatoes and peel the skin, cut them into halves and deseed. Chop them into small pieces.
- Use more tomatoes if you want the dip to be saucy. You may even try using a little bit of tomato paste to give it thickness.
- Leftovers: Can be refrigerated for 4 to 5 days. You can freeze zaalouk for couple months. Thaw and reheat. Adjust the consistency, evaporating or adding water as needed. Check the seasoning as well.
- Nutrition facts not including any added salt.
- For other variations, tips and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.
Kofta Curry (Meatball curry)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion medium, grated
- 1 egg large
- 4 tablespoons panko bread crumbs or 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dry mint
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 teaspoons garam masala or tikka masala
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil use a bit more if needed
- 1 onion medium, chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon salt adjust per taste
- 1 chili pepper chopped (jalapeno or cayenne or serrano)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1½ cups crushed tomatoes see note
- 1 cup yogurt whole, whipped
- 2 tablespoon fenugreek leaves fresh, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried leaves
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream optional
- Cilantro chopped for garnish
Beef Meatballs (Koftas)
- Combine all the ingredients for koftas (meatballs) in a mixing bowl. Mix and knead it well for 3-4 minutes and let it rest.
- Shape 16 smooth and cylindrical (or round) koftas and arrange on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil meatballs on high for about 3 to 5 minutes on both sides.Tip: You can do this while cooking the curry on the side.
- The broiling time may differ with each oven, so make sure to check initial progress. Alternatively the koftas may also be grilled. The koftas do not have to be completely cooked in this process as they will cook further in the sauce.
- Heat olive oil in a cooking pot over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
- Add ginger and garlic paste and stir for 2 minutes. Then add tikka masala, chili powder, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt and mix well.
- Next add chili peppers, tomato paste and stir 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and cook couple minutes.
- Add whipped yogurt and stir very well. Stir in fenugreek leaves, which give a distinctive taste to this dish.
- Then add 1 cup of water and stir (adjust the water as needed). Let it simmer about 20 minutes, until some oil starts surfacing on the top.Tip: If necessary, you may use a blender and process the sauce.
- Add koftas to the sauce. Adjust seasoning and consistency as needed.
- Increase the heat to medium high and once the curry starts bubbling, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Scatter chopped cilantro leaves on the top. You may drizzle cream or whipped yogurt on top.
- Serve this beef meatball curry with rice or flat bread. Enjoy!
- If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes for the gravy, chop and puree 1 pound of fresh tomatoes with the skin and seeds, along with 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
- If using fresh tomatoes, you may skip addition of water in the recipe, and add the yogurt only after the tomatoes are very well cooked. Otherwise the yogurt will curdle and the gravy will not be smooth. I prefer to use grass fed whole milk yogurt.
- You could also try using tomato paste (½ cup double concentrated good quality tomato paste + 2 cups water).
- Use grated onion or grated zucchini for soft, juicy and moist meatballs.
- Meatballs should be broiled or grilled quickly at high temperature to only brown the meat well on the exterior. If it takes too long, then the meatballs can become dry.
- For a richer flavor or special occasions, drizzle some ghee or cream on the top, at the end of the cooking process.
- Replace the breadcrumbs with chickpea flour to make gluten free kofta curry.
- If you wanted to make these koftas on stove top, then try using a cast iron skillet and drain the fat.
This post was first published on January 25th 2016 and has been updated with improvements in recipe, formatting, tips, and additional enhancements.