A very quick explanation for those who are interested: Dal Masala Kofta is nothing more than the information about ingredients (dal = lentil), the spice mix (Masala) and the shape (Kofta = balls) which are used for this dish.
You will have noted that use of the word “kofta” is not limited to India but is used basically everywhere from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Northern Africa in different variations (kafta, kufta, kufte, kefta) to describe balls made out of meat, veggies or legumes. I think what sets them apart from falafel is the fact that they are not deep fried but pan fried or cook in a sauce.
Enough of ingredients, you will find all of this and more if you research the big world wide web, if you are interested.
I do, however, need to rant about the use of the word “vegan” a bit, especially when used in context with meat substitutes. In the supermarket, I recently stumbled upon a “vegan chicken schnitzel”. I get quite upset about this, to be honest, why can’t you just call it what it is, a vegan wheat schnitzel (or whatever it contains)? Is a vegan carbonara really a carbonara or can’t I just call it a pasta sauce with soy and smoked tofu? I don’t want to bash substitute products but please, call it what it is. Not sure about the target group either; the vegans I know and like, usually focus on healthy, fresh, seasonal and regional products for their cooking endeavors and try to avoid processed food that is labelled meat, sausage etc. Apart from the fact that they (hopefully) don’t contain any animal products, I don’t think that they are healthier than the “real deal”. When you have a look at the list of ingredients, it usually lists all the added fillers and aromas that you want to avoid. Regardless of being vegan or not.
The reason for this little rant is only that I saw vegan meat balls which consisted of soy, wheat and legumes. Why can’t you just call them that then?
This is why I will share with you today my lentil kofta, Indian style with a spicy tomato sauce. Sauce and kofta are vegan, the joghurt on top isn’t but that can be substituted if you wish, of course.
I usually eat them with rice but some flat bread also goes very well with it. Another option is to omit the sauce entirely and just prepare the kofta and treat them as falafel to eat in a burger. Perfect! I also served them as fingerfood at one of our parties. Just with a bit of BBQ sauce, all of them were gone within in minutes.
They take a little while to prepare but you really don’t need to chop anything finely but it’s enough when you just cut the veggies roughly as they are going to be pureed in the end anyway.
The only part to be careful is when you fry the kofta as they may fall apart. They are very fluffy but also tend to break, therefore. In that case, just add some breadcrumbs and everything will be fine.
I got 1.5l of sauce with this recipe but I like making a bit extra as I can eat it with rice, pasta or, with a bit of added veggie broth, as a soup.
Indian lentil kofta
Ingredients (yields ca. 16 kofta)
200g red lentils
600ml veggie stock
1 red onion
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground koriander
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tbsp veggie oil to fry
Chop up onion finely or puree in a food processor. Bring lentils and veggie broth to a boil. Add bulgur and onions and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add tomato paste, cumin and coriander and stir well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. When the liquid has evaporated completely, remove from heat and let cool down. Add fresh parsley and and shape into balls. This works best when your hands are a bit wet. If they fall apart, add a bit of breadcrumbs to the mix and try again.
Fry for 3 to 5 minutes in oil until they are crispy and serve with rice and sauce or as snack in between.
Tomato sauce with Garam Masala
Ingredients (yields 1.5l)
2 tbsp Garam Masala
2 tsp ginger paste
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
300g fresh tomatoes
400g peeled tomatoes (can with tomato juice)
200ml veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste
Roughly chop onions and garlic. Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on their size. Heat up oil in a big pot and add Garam Masala and ginger. Roast for a couple of minutes. When you note the lovely smell of the spices, add onions and garlic and roast for a couple of minutes as well. Add tomato paste and stir well, then add tomatoes (canned and fresh) and the veggie stock. As soon as the tomatoes are tender and cooked, puree the sauce and let simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add Garam Masala again, if you wish.
Serve your lentil kofta with tomato sauce, basmati rice and a bit of mint yoghurt.
Lots of love,