Friday, February 8, 2013

Sweet sweet potato Kofta Curry

My mom's kofta curry is an experience that takes you the goodness of India. The vibrant colors, the effort, the sweet taste of hard work all manifests in this dish. It has a creamy, nutty, spicy, packed with flavor that lingers in your memory for days and days. Whenever I'm completely exhausted, I ask Josh to take me to an indian restaurant, where I can relish in some good ol' comfort food. To this day, my mom makes kofta curry on my birthday every year.
Traditional malai kofta curry is made with paneer, potatoes, and heavy cream. The koftas (think meatballs) are traditionally fried. In this version, the koftas are baked using sweet potatoes in place of potatoes and paneer. Sweet potatoes are an amazingly satisfying, rich superfood that are low in sodium and saturated fat, high in calcium and beta carotene. In place of cream, I used low fat sour cream that gave it a tangy, succulent flavor. See how much you can fool people with this version. The best part? You can eat more of it! This pot was wiped clean within about 10 minutes.

Now hang onto this mental image before you sift through the recipe below... it's well worth it!

This recipe goes on for a while, don't be afraid. It's actually very simple if you do it in small sections. Start with the koftas. Get them into the oven, then work on the gravy.

To make koftas, you'll need:

2-2.5 cups of sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed (or cooked for 5 minutes in a pressure cooker).
1 teaspoon olive oil
Half teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (optional)
1/4-1 cup of besan (chick pea flour)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons red chili
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Couple of toasted, finely mashed up cashews (optional)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

For the sweet potatoes:
If you have a pressure cooker, peel and dice up 2.5 cups of sweet potatoes and add them into a steel pot. At this point, add the fenugreek seeds into the cooker as well--they will steam and add flavor to the potatoes. DO NOT ADD WATER TO THE POTATOES. You'll end up with an awesome side dish of unworkable potatoes! Instead, place water within the pressure cooker itself and put the pot into the pressure cooker. Close the cooker, and let it whistle for 5 minutes. Once cooled, they'll mash perfectly.

If boiling, throw them into the hot pot with the fenugreek seeds, cook until tender, then drain well and mash. Caution: these taste awesome just on their own, it'll be tempting to snack on mashed sweet potatoes while you're cooking :)

Add flour and spices to mashed sweet potatoes. You may have to add more flour to the potatoes if the mixture is too watery.. as you add more flour, add more spices to make up for it. You may even have to add an extra sweet potato to get the right consistency.

Form the mixture into 12-15 balls.. the mixture shouldn't be sticky, but firm. If the dough sticks to you hands, add more flour or bread crumbs to get a cleaner consistency. You may even have to add an extra sweet potato in (I had to quickly peel, dice, and stick one in the microwave for 5 minutes).

Grease a small baking sheet with a few drops of olive oil. Lay the koftas on the pan and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Half way through, use a toothpick or a fork to check for doneness. The toothpick should come out clean. Once done, set aside. The koftas should be solid when cut open.

While the koftas are baking, you can start making the curry!

For the curry, you'll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4-5 pieces of garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger
1-2 green chilies, chopped
8 oz of low sodium tomato sauce
1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
half teaspoon of ground cardamom
half teaspoon of cinnamon/clove powder
1 cup of water (can go up to 2 cups for more gravy)
2 tablespoons of lowfat sour cream (or any type of sour cream)
5 cashews - toasted and ground up (optional)
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a wide pan or a dutch oven. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle until they turn dark brown and emit a nice, smoky odor.

Add the onions and green chilis... cook the onions until brown, about 15 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and cinnamon/clove powder and cook until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce, turmeric, chili powder, ground cumin, cardamom and coriander. Bring to a simmer and on low-medium heat. Once simmering, add water--enough water to form a thick gravy. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat. Place the sour cream in a bowl and mix well. Add mixture into the gravy--stir well, no clumps! The gravy's flavor should be tangy and smoky.

Once the koftas are done, add them to the gravy and let them simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes. Let the dish stand for another 5-10 minutes let the gravy thicken more and the flavors intensify.

Sprinkle fresh coriander and toasted ground cashews on top and serve hot. Cashews are optional.

Serve with home-made rotis or store chapatis, and rice. Enjoy and don't be too sad when that pot is licked clean--the hard work will never go in vain!