Cabbage Kofta (Dumpling stew)

I promised to post a recipe for cabbage kofta a few days ago, so here it is. This is the kind of recipe that makes Indian cooking seem so daunting to newbies. It’s delicious, no doubt about that, but it makes you work for it. It’s not one of those I-flipped-out-my-boob-and-the-baby-stopped-wailing kind of recipe. That’s why it’s a great workout for those angst-ridden days. Making this requires a bit of time, multistep preps and a willingness to clean up a cluttered counter afterwards. A healthy dose of bottled up emotion that needs to be grated away doesn’t hurt either. If you have some or all of those and aren’t averse to savoring something fried on a chilly winter evening, give this recipe a try. Unlike some other things in life, you won’t regret it. 🙂

Cabbage kofta
Cabbage kofta

Recipe Serves 2-3.

You’ll need:

For the dumplings:

1/2 small cabbage, grated or minced
3 tbsp besan or chickpea flour
1-2 tsp salt (I mostly eyeball it. Start with the lesser amount, fry up a batch, taste and adjust.)
1/2 tsp garam masala (optional)
2 sprig minced cilantro (optional, but recommended)
oil for frying (deep or shallow)

For the gravy:

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1″ ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1 dried red chilli or fresh green (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste or 1/4 cup fresh tomato puree

Spices: 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp onion seeds (optional, but highly recommended), 1 tsp turmeric, 1.5 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp mango powder, 1.5 tsp paprika (omit if using dried red chilli), salt

  • Before starting to assemble dumplings, set oil to heat for frying.
  • In a large bowl, mix cabbage, chickpea flour, salt, garam masala and cilantro. With lightly oiled hands, form mixture into small balls (roughly 2″ round). Drop into heated oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

  • Heat a tbsp of oil (you can use the hot oil just used for frying) in a wok or large saucepan. Add cumin seeds and let splutter. Add onion seeds, dried red chilli, ginger, garlic and onion; saute until onion is translucent.
  • Add tomato paste and saute for a minute. (If using fresh tomato puree, cook until puree has reduced down to a richer color and thicker paste-like state.)
  • Add turmeric, coriander powder, paprika (if using) and salt to taste.
  • Add 1 cup water, turn down heat and simmer gravy for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust amount of water as gravy cooks; you want a hearty gravy the consistency of thick soup.
  • Switch off heat and drop cabbage balls into gravy. Let dish sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. (It’s okay to reheat the curry for serving later, but the dumplings need those few minutes to soak up the gravy and soften a bit.)
  • Garnish with cilantro sprigs or a dash of heavy cream before serving hot with naan or rice.
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