North: kofta kebabs in spicy cream sauce (malai kofta)

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
Stephen Ceideburg
KOFTA:
2 larges Russet potatoes, boiled, peeled, mashed
½ cup Green peas, fresh or frozen
¼ cup Shredded Cheddar cheese
1 Fresh hot green chile, chopped
½ teaspoon Ground coriander
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1½ teaspoon Salt
¼ cup Chopped cashew nuts
1 tablespoon Raisins
¾ cup Chick-pea flour or corn flour (see note)
1 cup Water
Mild vegetable oil for deep frying
SPICY CREAM SAUCE:
8 Whole cashew nuts
2 Whole cloves
1 pinch Nutmeg
½ Inch cinnamon stick
1 Garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
1 large Onion, grated
1 pinch Turmeric
2 teaspoons Paprika
½ teaspoon Ground coriander
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Half-and-half
1 cup Water
½ cup Heavy cream
2 tablespoons Chopped fresh cilantro

Kofta, a classic dish of Moghul origin, is one of the most important preparations of Indian vegetarian cuisine. Traditionally, koftas are simmered in a delicate sauce and turned into a curried main dish.

These kebabs are wonderful served as cocktail appetizers with a yogurt or fruity dipping sauce. The kofta: Combine potatoes, peas, cheese, chile, coriander, cumin, salt, cashews and raisins. Form mixture into 1-inch balls.

Make a batter with the flour and water. Season with pinch of salt, if desired.

Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a deep fryer or large heavy saucepan. Dip balls into batter to coat completely, and deep-fry until brown (do not crowd), about 4 minutes. Set aside.

(If you want the kebabs to remain firm, put them on a heated serving platter, and tent with foil. To serve, bring cream sauce to a boil and pour over kebabs.)

The sauce: Grind cashews, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and garlic with a little water to make a fine paste. Set aside.

Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until wilted; stir in ground paste and cook 2 minutes.

Add turmeric, paprika, coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir in half-and-half and water. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

(May be prepared 2 days ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.) Stir in cream and kofta kebabs. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Note: Chick-pea flour (also called besan) may be purchased at Indian grocery stores.

PER SERVING: 645 calories, 15 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 43 g fat (19 g saturated), 86 mg cholesterol, 1,450 mg sodium, 8 g fiber.

Laxmi Hiremath writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/92.

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