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Indian Meatballs In Fennel Sauce – Kofta Curry

Easy homemade Indian meatballs in a fragrant creamy fennel seeds flavoured curry sauce is a mild and light dish easy to make even on weeknights.  

Indian-meatballs-sauce
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This Indian meatballs recipe also known as Kofta in an aromatic mildly spiced creamy sauce seasoned with freshly roasted fennel and cumin seeds spice blend is inspired by the traditional Kashmiri meatballs dish called Gushtaba.

I am a firm believer of making cooking fun and fuss-free. With the right type of ingredients and tactile cooking methods used, it is one of those dishes I cook as a trick to make fussy eaters eat better . Children are attracted towards processes that is sensory and making these Indian style meatballs ticks all the right boxes and maybe even change the way they think about spices.

Eat it with Indian flatbreads or plain boiled rice, you will sure enjoy making this Indian Kofta curry at home.

Ingredients To Make Spicy Indian Meatballs

The list may look a bit extensive but it uses simple everyday ingredients which you may already have.

FRESH AND PANTRY ITEMS

  • Mince meat – Best to use lamb, beef or a mix of pork and beef mince
  • Onions
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Tomato puree
  • Tomato ketchup
  • Cream
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • Water

SPICES NEEDED

OPTIONAL OR SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS

Substitute for fennel seeds – If you are unable to find fennel seeds you can go for any of the listed substitutes here. However for this particular recipe the best substitute is using fennel bulbs. Read the FAQ section below for further cooking tips.

Substitute for dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) – Click this link to find the best dried fenugreek leaves substitute or omit them from the dish.

Substitute for black cardamom – It is a special Indian spice which has a woody fragrance. You can omit from the dish or use a substitute instead.

How To Make  Curried Meatballs – Step By Step Method

STEP 1 – Make Indian style meatballs

Add half of the fresh coriander leaves, cumin powder, garam masala powder, green chillies, salt and breadcrumbs to the mince meat and mix it well together. Roll them into balls and set aside for frying.

Easy recipes with Mince meat dishes

STEP 2 – Frying the Meatballs 

Heat oil in a pan and add lemon shaped portions of meatballs to warm oil. Cook till it changes in colour turning it from time to time. Set aside to use later in the sauce.

Fry indian matballs

STEP 3 – Make fennel and cumin seed powder 

In a mortal pestle grind fennel seeds and cumin seeds to a coarse powder and set aside. If you wish you can lightly dry roast the spice before hand in a pan.

Roasted fennel seeds and cumin seeds

STEP 4 – Make the spicy fennel sauce 

  1. Heat oil in a pan and once warm add black cardamom, green cardamom and bay leaves fry for 20 seconds.
tempering spices in oil

2.Add the onion ginger garlic paste to the pan. Saute until it becomes caramel in colour and the raw smell of the aromates go away and oil starts to separate out of the onion mixture.

onions-masala-base

3. Now add the tomatoes to the onion and continue to saute till much of the moisture evaporates. Add tomato sauce, chilli powder and garam masala powder to the pan and saute for a minute further.

spicy masala base for Indian meatballs curry recipe

4. Once you see the moisture from the tomatoes have evaporated and oil starts to separate out, add water and bring to boil. Add the pre fried meatballs to the sauce, cumin and fennel powder and cover and simmer on low for 10 – 15 mins. Add cream at the end and remove from heat.

add-meatballs-to-sauce

5. Sprinkle dried fenugreek leaves and cream stir in well and cook for 2 minutes.

6. Lastly add fresh coriander leaves and serve Indian meatballs curry in fennel sauce with plain boiled rice or Indian flat bread.

Indian-meatballs-sauce

Cooking Tips and FAQ’s

  • Ensure that there is not a lot of moisture in the mince.Adding breadcrumbs helps in absorbing excess moisture.
  • Breadcrumbs help to bind the mince together and prevent it from crumbling. You can add egg instead.
  • If the onion tomato masala gets too dry while frying add 2-3 teaspoon of oil from time to time and continue to fry.
  • If you wish you can add a little of cumin powder, garam masala powder  and chopped green chillies to your spicy Indian meatballs.
  • Tomato  ketchup adds a hint of sweetness to the sauce, you can omit it if you like.
  • For vegetarian option you can use minced soya or mince quorn
  • Black cardamom, is a special type of Indian spice, that adds a woody aromatic fragrance to the dish.  You do not need to  have them if you don’t find them.
  • To safe cooking time, mince or grind together onions, ginger and garlic in a blender. More time saving cooking tips here.
  • Make a child friendly Version – Omit chilli powder completely or remove a portion of the masala base (before adding water) to another container and make it separately for kids. Add chilli powder in the remaining (hot version) masala base and continue to follow recipe by adding water for both portions.
  • For healthier low fat version – skip using cream, you can use 2 tbsp of skimmed milk instead.

What to substitute for fennel seeds ?

If you are unable to find fennel seeds you can substitute it with fresh fennel bulb.

All you need to do is finely chop the bulb just like onions and add it after you fry the ginger, garlic and onions, before you add tomato puree.

This will allow the fresh fennel taste to become adsorbed into the sauce.

What type of mince is used to make Indian kofta curry?

A traditional Indian mincemeat kofta is made using lamb mince, beef mince or chicken. You can use any type of mincemeat you prefer.

You can also use pork mince if you wish.

I have used a mix of pork and beef, but you can make chicken meatballs, lamb meatballs or even use a vegetarian meatball option.

Are meatballs healthy? How to buy good quality mince meat!

This is a question I asked myself once I discovered the convenience of cooking with mincemeat.

Below are tips to ensure you are buying good quality mince meat.

  1. Supermarkets these days have a leaner variety of mincemeat which is great.
  2. Commercial meatballs can contain a high amount of fat and sodium so always read the label to check the fat content.
  3. If possible make your own meatballs at home with lean boneless meat cuts and grind meat at home either in a food processor or chopping it fine using a butchers knife. (It requires elbow grease and time so not my style)
  4. Pork mince, has more fat content so if possible substitute it for other red meat option. Occasional pork mince of course does not hurt!

If you stick to modest portions and lean meat, you can enjoy the all the benefits.

Other easy meals with mince meat

I am a fuss-free cook, which means convenience and taste take precedence over laborious and time consuming.

One of my must-have convenient and quick proteins other than fish and egg is mincemeat.

Besides mince meat is also good on your pocket and a brilliant non-veg treat when on a budget.

I love how quickly you can make a variety of meals with mince meat in minutes.

You have the option of making a homemade burger, meat loaf, meatballs, kebabs, curry, chilli, fillings for tacos, enchiladas and many more.

Adding other ingredients such as herbs and spices to minced meat gives it added flavour and texture.

Check out some of the recipes using mince below:

Easy meatloaf with Cajun spice

Chicken Mince patties on a plate

Thai chicken mince patties

Chicken Mughlai Recipe

Kolkata Mughlai Paratha

What are some variations to sauce base to try?

There are many different sauce or gravy bases you can try when making Indian meatballs curry.

The most popular of course is meatballs in tomato sauce.

You can also substituting tomato with yoghurt or use part yoghurt, cream and tomato.

Cooking meatballs in sauce allows the mince to absorb all the flavours from the sauce making it tender, succulent and fast to cook.

Where to buy spices ?

Avail the convenience to get a range of spices, special ingredients and regular grocery delivered straight to your door without any hassle.

US Residents –  Buy fresh spices and get them delivered directly to you from The Spice House.

Buy spices online- The spice house

UK and Rest of Europe Residents  –  British Corner Shop, the official partners of Waitrose UK with economic worldwide delivery

Recipe Card for

Indian Meatballs In Fennel Sauce – Kofta Curry

Easy homemade Indian meatballs in a fragrant creamy fennel seeds flavoured curry sauce is a mild and light dish easy to make even on weeknights.  

Indian-meatballs-sauce
Print Recipe Card
Preparation Time - 10 Minutes |  
Cooking Time - 30 minutes |  
Total Time to Cook - 45 minutes |  
Servings - 4

Ingredients

FOR THE MEATBALLS
  • 250 gms mince meat - onions ginger garlic tomato puree cream fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 cup of fresh coriander leaves
  • 2, chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil to shallow fry
FOR ROASTED SPICES
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE BASE
  • 1 onion
  • 5- 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 - 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3-4 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • A large handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

MAKE THE MEATBALLS
  • Add 2 tbsp of coriander leaves, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp garam masala powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs to the mince meat and mix it well together.
  • Roll them into balls making sure there are no cracks in the balls and set aside for frying
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the lemon shaped portions of meatballs to warm oil. Cook till it changes in colour turning it from time to time. Set aside to use later in the sauce.
MAKE ROASTED SPICE POWDER
  • Heat a flat pan, add the fennel seeds and cumin seeds to the pan and dry roast for 2 minutes until fragrant and changes slightly in colour.
  • Leave to cool before grinding them into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Set aside.
MAKE THE BASE SAUCE
  • Grind together or finely chop onions, ginger and garlic.
  • Heat oil in a pan and once warm add black cardamom, green cardamom and bay leaf and fry for 20 seconds.
  • Add the onion ginger garlic paste to the pan. Saute until it becomes caramel in colour and the raw smell of the aromates go away and oil starts to separate out of the onion mixture.
  • Now add the 3/4 cup of tomato puree to the onion and continue to saute till much of the moisture evaporates. Add tomato sauce, chilli powder and garam masala powder to the pan and saute for a minute further.
  • Once you see the moisture from the tomatoes have evaporated and oil starts to separate out, add water and bring to boil. Add the pre fried meatballs to the sauce, cumin and fennel powder and cover and simmer on low for 10 - 15 mins. Add cream at the end and remove from heat.
  • Sprinkle dried fenugreek leaves and cream stir in well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Lastly add fresh coriander leaves and and serve Indian meatballs curry in fennel sauce with plain boiled rice or Indian flat bread.

Notes

  • To safe cooking time, mince or grind together onions, ginger and garlic in a blender. More time saving cooking tips here.
  • Ensure that there is not a lot of moisture in the mince.Adding breadcrumbs helps in absorbing excess moisture.
  • If the onion tomato masala gets too dry while frying add 2-3 teaspoon of oil from time to time and continue to fry.
  • Read the FAQ section for more cooking tips and making alterations to the recipe.

Tried this recipe?

Mention @aspicelady or tag #cookingwithspices

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Jamie
1 month ago

I love the flavor of these meatballs! So delicious!

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