Monday, November 28, 2011

A treat for your tastebuds! Nargisi kofta

I am so deprived of tools required to be blogging....

These past months havs been absolutely catastrophic. First,  baby P, in one of her naughty moods, started to run off with my camera, tripped over the carpet and dropped my very prized possession. I was so upset that I actually gave her a time out before realizing that I'd to ask if she was hurt in the fall as well:-)) Since that day, I can't seem to get clear pictures with this Canon that I'd spent days researching before I bought it. But I've plodded along- photoshopping a lot, trying to get my pictures to look sort of like they're supposed to. While waiting to decide whether to buy a new camera or not, I transferred the old pictures out of there and drafted a few posts with genuine intentions of clearing up the back log.

As soon as I had that thought formed (in my brain), my MIL's watching Bollywood movies from certain free sites brought down our computers at home- two of them. Reformatting each of them twice did nothing to restore them. Now my laptop is slower than a slug; and A's old laptop which was handed down to Anya for her school homework doesn't ever turn on anymore. In the end, we got my MIL a few Bollywood channels on the On Demand deal.....but I am left with neither a camera worth it's keep, nor a PC capable of creating even a text document.  In the meanwhile, all I could manage was a small write-up last week and this post today; both a result of snatching a line here and there during work hours......

.......And the final straw -  a new job that doesn't even allow time for breathing near a computer.....

Nargisi Kofta

For the kofta
Chenna/ cottage cheese about 15oz
Cornstarch 2 Tbsp
Salt 1Tbsp
Dried apricots and golden raisins a handful chopped coarse
Oil to deep fry

For the gravy
Onion 1 medium
Tomato 1 large
Green chillies 3-4
Ginger 1 inch piece, peeled and washed
Almonds -10-15 blanched and soaked in 2Tbsp milk
Poppy seeds 1tsp soaked with almonds (optional)
Heavy cream 1/2 cup
Water 1 (and 1/2) cups

Jeera/ Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Saunf/Fennel seeds 1tsp
Tej patta/ Bay leaf 1 crushed
Salt 1Tbsp/ to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
Garam masala 1tsp
Haldi/ turmeric powder a generous pinch

  1. I usually make my chenna at home. To do this, follow the instruction I've posted elsewhere.   If using store-bought container of cottage cheese, go to the next step.
  2. Line a saucepan with cheese cloth and dump out the entire contents the tub of cottage cheese in the middle. Gather up the sides of the cheese cloth, tie up loosely around the middle with one end of the cloth (or a rubber band).  Hang it up in a deep container for at least an hour (preferably more) to drain out all the liquid.
  3. After all the liquid has drained, you will have very crumby milk solids left in the cheese cloth, similar in texture to the homemade chenna. Transfer this to a plate, add the cornstarch and salt and mix thoroughly.
  4. Take a small portion of your cottage cheese mixture and flatten it between your left palm. Place a small amount of chopped apricot-raisin mixture in the middle and fold the cottage cheese mixture over it, to get small ping-pong sized kofta.
  5. Make all the balls, and then deep fry over medium high heat. Keep aside.
  6. Grind the first 4 gravy ingredients together to get a coarse puree. 
  7. Grind the almonds and poor seeds separately with the milk they were soaked in.
  8. Heat 1Tbsp oil in a wok/ kadai. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and bay leaf.  After a minute or so, add the onion-tomato puree and the rest of the spices. Cook on low lead till the mixture is strongly aromatic and oil begins to leave sides. 
  9. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Add the almond-poppy seed mixture and simmer for about 10 min. 
  10. If the gravy appears too thick, add some more water and adjust to required consistency.
  11. Turn off heat, allow to cool for about 5 min., then mix in the cream.
  12. To serve, plate the koftas and ladle a generous helping of gravy over them!
My two cents: Kofta is probably a word (and dish) of Persian descent, brought to India by the Mughals. Rich and decadent, Muglai cuisine is very popular in North India. Mughlai dishes are a staple on the menu during the winter season wedding menus. The original Nargisi koftas are made of meat and stuffed with one half of a boiled egg. I figured the idea was to get different texture for the core and the cover. So I stuffed a paneer/chenna shell with raisins and apricots. Honestly, I love the final taste.
    The gravy is fairly rich, with cream and almond-poppy paste. In my opinion, this gives this dish it's own identity, independent of it's closest cousin- the malai kofta (that's a recipe for another time). I've mostly seen Koftas served with naan or tandoori roti.  Here I have them on a bed of fried vegetable rice; and I thought it was a pretty good combo. 
   Agreed that it's not an everyday dish.....but definitely a special occasion must-have. This is the first dish I made for my new family after I got married, and my MIL is seriously hooked to it. This time, I'd made it especially for her while she came to visit (despite her bringing down my computers...:-))

Linked to:
Let's Cook: Mughlai Cuisine
Favorite Indian Recipes at Lisa's kitchen
Only Curries hosted by Kamalika and started by Pari.