Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Zucchini/Spinach Koftas

A while ago a promise was made to my family that the next Indian meal I made would feature koftas as they are the favourite type of Indian curries for my boys. My son had no hesitation in requesting zucchini koftas when he was presented with a few different options which didn't really surprise me as they have been highly requested for quite some time. Although I made the zucchini koftas a few weeks ago I never got around to posting about them.

In the summer of 2009/2010, I planted several zucchini plants in my garden and was totally overwhelmed by their success. They were growing faster than we could eat and give them away! After some time, we grew very tired of eating zucchini even though I was using them in so many different ways. Fritters, ratatouille, pasta sauces, quiches, okonomiyaki, stuffed zucchinis to name a few.

I needed to try something a bit different, maybe with some spices to keep our zucchini interest alive. That was when I found the zucchini kofta recipe on Johanna's blog and I loved the sound of it straight away.  So many kofta recipes require you to pre-fry or bake the kofta balls which adds extra time (and oil) to the process but with this one you simply had to drop the rolled balls straight into the gravy. This turned out to be the favourite zucchini recipe in our household so it was made numerous times until the zucchini season ended.

There are a few changes I have made along the way such as decreasing the turmeric quantity and increasing the tomatoes. The resulting gravy turns out to be a pinker colour rather than yellow and has a stronger tomato presence. I usually taste the curry before serving and if I find it is too mild (as this is not a hot curry), another teaspoon of garam masala is added. I also forgot to add lemon juice to the kofta mixture this time around but this didn't seem to affect the overall flavour. 

Curries are rather popular with the man's family and sometimes when there is a family gathering on we have a curry night. It was a while since I had brought koftas along and after flicking through a few recipes I settled upon a mixture of two recipes. My cookbook "The Food of India" has a spinach kofta with a yoghurt gravy which has previously been a success but even in my pre-vegan days I was never particularly fond of this gravy. So I decided to make the spinach kofta balls with the tomato gravy from the zucchini kofta recipe for something different. 

The spinach koftas in this recipe are usually fried, however my initial plan was to go against this and bake rather than fry. When the spinach mixture was rolled into balls the consistency seemed nice and firm so I crossed my fingers, hoped for the best and simply dropped them into the gravy just like the zucchini koftas. And I was very pleased that they held together nicely! Spinach is way higher up on my favoured vegie list than zucchini, so it's not surprising that I enjoyed this variation more.

We polished off the left-overs of spinach koftas and an eggplant side dish a few nights later. I also made some cheating samosas with Borg's puff pastry sheets and the filling slightly adapted from this recipe. My son declared this dinner to be one of his favourites - koftas + samosas = win!!!  

Spinach koftas with tomato gravy 
(Koftas adapted from The Food of India)
(Tomato gravy adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe credited to Food and Fun)

Spinach Koftas

500g frozen spinach
1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons coriander leaves

Tomato gravy
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato passata
3 tsp garam masala

1 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup almonds, ground
2 cups water
chopped fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Defrost the spinach in a microwave and press out as much water as possible. Place spinach in a bowl, add the besan, red onion, garlic, cumin and coriander and mix together until well combined. The mixture should be very thick, if necessary add some more besan.

Place onions and garlic and a little bit of water in a blender and process until a smooth paste is formed. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or pot and fry the cumin seeds for a minute or two until they become aromatic. Add the onion and garlic paste and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir the garam masala, tomato passata and salt into the onion mixture. Add soy milk gradually, stirring constantly. Slowly add the ground almonds and mix thoroughly into the gravy. Add 2 cups water, then bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 10 minutes.

While gravy is simmering, roll the spinach mixture into small balls keeping in mind that they expand a little when they cook in the gravy.

Place the koftas into the gravy, ensuring that they do not touch each other and increase the heat slightly. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then gently turn koftas over with a spoon. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with fresh coriander.


  1. Yum! I'm a massive kofta fan too - they're one of my fave things to order from Indian restaurants and I've made them at home a few times. I should make them a few more this winter. :-)

  2. Thanks Cindy, koftas seems to be one thing we do agree on at my house when it comes to Indian. Oh, and samosas too!

  3. I love koftas to but they often seem too fiddly - must try your spinach version as I remember enjoying the zucchini koftas when I made them a few years back though even that recipe seemed a bit of work (so I was interested that you found these koftas less work than a lot)

  4. Hi Johanna, koftas can be fairly time consuming which is why I like these ones as the step of frying/baking is skipped. I may find this one less work now as I have made it several times and am fairly comfortable with it. Pretty sure it's easier than other kofta recipes I have attempted though. ;)