Slow-Cooked Pakistani Beef Koftas with a Fragrant Curry and a Hint of Mint

Richly-spiced beef koftas straight from the heart of Pakistan.

  • Preparation Time35 mins
  • Cooking Time30 mins
  • Serves8
  • DifficultyMedium

For the koftas

500g beef mince
1 slice of bread, soaked in water and then squeezed
1 tbsp brown onion paste (slice 2 small onions and fry until lightly brown, then grind into a paste)
1 tbsp dry chickpeas, ground
1 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp red chilli powder
1-1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
Small handful coriander, finely chopped
2-3 mint leaves, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

For the curry

2 tbsp brown onion paste
1 tsp freshly-ground cumin seeds
1 tsp freshly-ground coriander seeds
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp poppy seed paste (soak poppy seeds in hot water for 10 minutes and then grind into a fine paste with some water)
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more for colour, not for heat)
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
10-12 mint leaves
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
Tap water to hand

To make the koftas, mince all the ingredients for the koftas except the coriander, mint and green chilli, then stir them in last. Roll about a heaped tablespoon of the mince into medium sized meatballs (not too small) and ensure there are no cracks in the meatballs. Set aside and start making the curry. The meatballs are added in raw, as they cook in the curry.

To make the curry, heat the oil in a shallow pan (which has a lid) add the onion paste fry for a minute. Add the red chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, salt and a splash of water and cook until the oil rises to the surface and a red colour develops in the curry. Now add turmeric, coriander, cumin and another splash of water and allow to cook until the oil separates and the curry turns red.

Now add the poppy seed paste and fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the yogurt and fry well until oil separates and the curry is cooked through. Add about 600ml water, then the raw meatballs (add more water if you wish the curry to be thin), turn heat to medium low, cover pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

Finally, add the mint leaves, torn by hand to release their aroma. Cover pan and turn off heat. Serves with a a few more torn mint leaves and enjoy with either plain basmati rice or fresh hot naan.

Recipe courtesy of Sumayya Jamil, PukkaPakistani

Cook's note: this recipe is authentic in content but has certain family twists, which makes it original, as handed down to me by my mother – like the addition of mint and a whole slice of bread. The aromas are what you would expect from a dish, which is slowly simmered to perfection and full of flavour. These will linger in your home and are guaranteed to tantalize you and your guests!

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