Pakistani cuisine is a rich and flavorful and involves traditional aromatic spices and recipes. The food represents the ethnicity and each meal is a prepared like a feast enjoyed by the whole family together. Nargisi kofta is one of the most authentic popular dishes of all times. This luxurious dish comes from the Mughlai cuisine. The Mogul emperors brought the dish from Persia to the sub-continent. These koftas are spicier version of Scotch eggs. Each Kofta encloses a hardboiled egg wrapped with ground meat mixture. The meaty kebabs are them simmered in a saucy tomato gravy to infuse the flavors thoroughly.
It is a popular Pakistani dish which derived its name for its resemblance to Narcissus, a winter flower grown in the subcontinent. .The cut halves with yellow yolk and surrounding egg white appears like the flower with yellow centre and white petals.
The savory koftas are made with slight variations in the Middle East and South Asia. The meatballs are made with of minced/ground meat –which may be chicken, lamb, turkey or beef combined with the spices and onion. The meat is then shaped into balls and fried. The meat can be replaced with bottle gourd or potatoes to make a vegetarian alternative to the meat balls. The koftas can be grilled, steamed, fried or baked before simmering into the spicy gravy. The dish goes equally well with flat breads or rice. It is an exotic dish prepared on special occasions and parties.
The recipe may be taken as laborious procedure but in fact it is easy to prepare at home and the results are mouth watering! The preparation is done in two parts; Making the meat balls and preparing the gravy/sauce. The sauce can also be made in a variety depending on the choice of your spices. Follow the simple tips and tricks provided with the recipe to enjoy the delicacy.
Ingredients for Koftas:
For making the juicy meatballs you require:
400 gm lean beef mince (beef can be substituted with your choice of meat with no fat)
Juice of 1 lemon
3-4 Green chillies
1 tsp. Garlic paste
1 tsp. Ginger paste
1 Bunch of roughly chopped coriander leaves.
Salt to taste
1 tsp Black pepper powder
1/4 tsp. Turmeric powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
2 tbsp. Breadcrumbs or Gram flour
3 Boiled eggs
Oil for frying the Koftas
Ingredients for Sauce/Gravy:
To make the spicy gravy you need:
8 Fresh tomatoes (blended with skin, green chillies and cinnamon)
4 Grated onions
1 tbsp. Tomato paste/puree
1/4 cup Oil
1/2 tsp. Ginger paste
1/2 tsp. Garlic paste
1 tsp. Cumin powder
1 tsp. Sugar
4 tbsp. Yoghurt
1/4 tsp. Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander for garnishing
1 tsp. Lemon juice
1-2 Chopped green chillies
Instructions for Koftas:
Firstly we will make the koftas. Below are the step by step detailed instructions of making the koftas/meat balls.
Grind the ginger, garlic, coriander, chillies and lemon juice in a processor to make a smooth paste. Then add the lean beef mince to this paste. The fat must be removed from the meat completely to ensure good binding. Process the mixture until all the ingredients blend finely. Take the mixture out into a bowl and add the salt, cumin powder, black pepper powder followed by the bread crumbs. Combine the ingredients thoroughly well into the meaty mixture. Keep the mixture in refrigerator for atleast half an hour.
Tip: Ensure that the mince has no or very little fat content. Remember the koftas have to be fried after they are wrapped around the eggs. If the mince has fatty parts in it then upon frying the fat will melt in hot oil resulting in cracks on the koftas. This will make the meat crumble off the eggs making it difficult to fry.
While you have refrigerated your mixture, boil the eggs , peel and slice them in half. It is preferable to use hardboiled eggs for the koftas but if you want you can instead use half boiled eggs
Now take the mince from the fridge and start wrapping the mixture around the boiled eggs. Take a handful of the mixture then shape it around the eggs, but ensure that there are no cracks and the eggs are fully covered.
Tips: Carefully wrap the mince around koftas so there are no cracks as cracks will result in the meat falling apart when you fry the koftas.
Once you have covered all the egg halves with the mince, put them on a dish and cover, then refrigerate for at least another half an hour. The refrigeration helps to keep the koftas intact when fried.
Next step is to deep fry the koftas. There should be enough oil in the pan so the eggs immerse fully into it. The oil should be real hot before you lower each kofta one by one. Use a slotted spoon to slowly put the koftas in the oil so as not to break the mince coating. Briefly fry the koftas for no more than 30seconds. The quick frying helps the meatballs stay solid and to retain their shape. The mince will get fully cooked when it will be simmered into the gravy later.
Heat enough oil in a pan to fully immerse the eggs in. Once very hot, lower each kofta into the oil with the aid of a slotted spoon, and fry for no more than half a minute. This is ONLY to make sure the koftas maintain their shape and stay solid, they will get cooked further in the tomato gravy which comes in the next step. Gently pat the koftas on a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil.
Instructions for Gravy/ Sauce:
To make the gravy heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions until they are nice and golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste and the tomato paste. Fry for a minute and then stir in all the spices for another minute before you add the blended tomatoes followed by the sugar and salt. To prepare the blended tomatoes, blend them with some coriander stalks and 2-3 green chillies. Cook the sauce on medium heat until bubbles start forming and it thickens. Add a bit of water if it gets too thick. Your gravy is now ready; adjust for the spices if required.
It’s time to add the prepared koftas that you have fried and kept set aside. Lower one by one kofta slowly into the gravy and reduce the heat. Let them simmer slowly for about 15-20 minutes. Use a spoon to flip the koftas tenderly. Avoid stirring the gravy with the spoon, instead swirl the pot gently. Be gentle to avoid the breaking the meatballs.
Garnish with chopped coriander, squeeze a bit of lemon juice and sprinkle the garam masala and serve hot with your choice of flat bread or rice. Enjoy the flavorsome dish and get applauded as the best cook ever!
Optional: You can also add boiled cubed potatoes to the gravy. But it is totally optional and can be left out.