4 generous portions. Approximate cost: £16.10 for fresh ingredients (£21.60 if you fancy investing in a tub of ghee)
Skill level: Medium (requires food processor)
Total cooking time: 90 minutes,
- Prep time: 30 minutes,
- Cooking time: 30 minutes, leave to marinate overnight and cook again for 35 minutes,
Equipment used: Food processor, blender, 1 frying pan with lid, 1 large deep casserole pot
Original recipe: Hairy Bikers’ Lamb kofta curry
As with all good tomato based sauces, this will taste even better the next day – To ensure your meatballs and sauce have a real depth of flavour (and avoid having to spend 3 hours making dinner in a single setting), you want to make this the night (or two) before you plan to eat it.
If you have freezer room, you can double (or proportionally increase) the ingredients, prep the meatballs and sauce and freeze before cooking. Both will last up to 6 months (just remember to write on the lid the quantity of sauce and how much water needs to be added during the cooking stage).
The recipe recommends using ghee instead of sunflower oil. If you can get hold of it, I’d recommend investing in a pot – it’ll keep in the fridge for around 6 months (although I’ve kept it for longer). As well as filling your kitchen with the most gorgeous buttery smell as it’s heated, you will be able to soften the onion, ginger and garlic mixture at a much higher temperature without burning it, leaving you with sweet, plump onions without any charred edges.
I’ve opted to flip the recipe around and start with the sauce. That way, I can re-use the food processor to chop the sauce ingredients without needing to wash it up. Win!
For the sauce:
To make the sauce, heat the ghee (or oil) in a large non-stick saucepan or sauté pan and gently fry 2 roughly chopped onions, 4 garlic cloves and a 25g chunk of ginger for about 10 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned, stirring regularly. Add 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tbsp garam masala and cook for 20-30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Stir in 4 roughly chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes over a high heat, or until they soften and release their juice, stirring constantly. Add 1 tbsp tomato purée and sprinkle with 1 tsp flaked sea salt and 1/2 tsp sugar and pour over 500ml lamb stock.
Season with lots of ground black pepper, add 1 cinnamon stick and 2 bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover the sauce loosely with a lid (use tin foil if you don’t have a lid to fit) and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pan with the sauce from the heat after its 20 minutes are up and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves (be aware of little shards of cinnamon) – they will be easy to pick out with a fork or tongs. (This will burn your fingers otherwise!!!)
Blend the sauce with a stick blender until as smooth as possible. (If you don’t have a stick blender, leave to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a food processor and blend to a purée.)
If preparing in advance, stop at this point and add the sauce to the fridge with the meat mixture.
For the meatballs:
(Original recipe in bold font)
1: Put 1 onion, 2 green chillies, 15g ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp chilli powder and 1 tbsp tomato purée in a food processor. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. (The Bikers advise to to add more than you think you’d need) I also throw in the coriander stalks.
2. Blend the ingredients into a paste as smooth as you can get it. You’ll need to remove the lid of the food processor and push the mixture down with a spatula 2-3 times.
3. Add the lamb and blend once more – If you only have a small bowl on the food processor, remove half of the paste remove adding the lamb and do blitz the meat in two batches.
4. Transfer to a bowl and stir 3 tsp of chopped coriander leaves. Cover the dish with cling film and chill for 1-3 hours, or overnight, to allow the mixture to stiffen and the meat to absorb all the wonderful spices.
If you’re planning to freeze the mixture, you could roll the meat mixture into balls at this point or after you’ve allowed it to marinate overnight.
Remove the meat and sauce from the fridge and allow this to come to room temperature.
Take a small portion of mince mixture at a time and roll into a smooth ball – a little smaller than a walnut in its shell. (The mixture should be firm enough but if this does stick to your hands, add a few droplets of water to the palms of your hands before rolling). Put on a plate as soon as each one is rolled.
Return the sauce to the heat and stir in 200ml/7fl oz water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Drop all the meatballs gently into the bubbling sauce and return to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for a further 30-35 minutes, or until the meatballs are tender and the sauce is thick, stirring regularly. If the sauce reduces too far or begins to stick on the bottom of the pan, add a little extra water and continue cooking. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the meatballs with rice, fresh coriander leaves and a dollop of natural yoghurt.
For the meatballs
- 1 onion, roughly chopped (20p)
- 2 green chillies (60p)
- 15g fresh ginger, roughly chopped (15p)
- 4 garlic cloves (50p for a bulb)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp garam masala (80p at Nour, Brixton)
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (80p at Nour, Brixton)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree (55p for a tube)
- black pepper
- 500g lean minced lamb (the best you can afford) (£6 at Chadwicks butchers, Balham)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves and the coriander stalks (70p)
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp ghee or sunflower oil (£5.50 for a 500g tub)
- 2 onions, roughly chopped (40p)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (as above)
- 25g fresh ginger, finely chopped (20p)
- 1 tbsp garam masala (as above)
- 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped (70p)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree (as above)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 500ml lamb stock (avoid using a stock cube if you can, £2.00 for fresh)
- 1 cinnamon stick (£1)
- 2 bay leaves (£1)
- thick natural yoghurt (50p)
- cooked basmati rice (75g uncooked rice, per person. A 4kg of Laila basmati rice costs £7, equating to 50p for 300g.)
- fresh coriander leaves (as above)
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