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Image: Plantain kofta over rice

Plantain kofta over rice

Here’s a north Indian dish you’ll rarely find in a restaurant, at least in America. I’m not sure why; it’s delicious and the ingredients can be found year-round. I had it once at Rasika and never saw it on their menu again, which is why I learned to make it myself.

A kofta is a fried dumpling and may be made with a variety of vegetables and/or paneer. Here, cooked, starchy plantains are mashed with finely chopped cashews and seasonings, then fried and served with a rich, complex tomato gravy. Omit the small amount of butter in the gravy and it’s vegan.

Why did I wait so long? It’s not difficult (especially if you have a deep-fryer. Note: get a deep-fryer!) and the gravy and uncooked plantain balls freeze very well. We had some recently that had been frozen for about 4 months and they were as good as fresh.

Slightly adapted from Plantain Kofta in a Tangy Tomato Gravy:

Koftas (dumplings)
4 medium plantains (the starchy kind, not the sweet kind)
1 green chili, minced
1-inch cube fresh ginger, finely grated
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped cashews
Salt to taste

1 cup finely diced onion
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2-inch cube ginger
1/2 cup cashews
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 green chilies
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Extra oil for frying the koftas

Image: Starchy plantains

Starchy plantains

Cut plantains into 2-inch lengths and place in a large pot with water to cover. Boil until soft but not falling apart (you’ll be mashing them like potatoes), about 20-30 minutes. Drain.

Image: Cooked plantains before mashing.

Cooked plantains. They look kind of dull now, but just you wait!

Once cool enough to handle, peel and mash in a large bowl. A potato ricer works well here.

Image: Plantains going through the potato ricer.

Plantains going through the potato ricer

Image: Riced plantains in bowl.

Riced plantains.

Add chopped cashews, grated ginger, minced green chili, and cilantro and mix well. Cover and set aside while you make the gravy.

Image: Riced plantains with cashews, ginger, green chili, and cilantro.

Grind ginger, garlic, green chilli, cumin seeds and cashew nut into a smooth paste with a little bit of water. Set aside in a small bowl, covered. Puree the tomatoes and set aside. Doing them in this order means you don’t need to clean the blender in the middle, plus you can leave the pureed tomatoes in there until they get added to the pot!

In a large pot, sauté onion in 2 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter. Once the onion turns golden brown, add the ground cashew paste and cook it for about 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in turmeric, chilli powder, and salt.

Image: adding the cashew paste.

Adding the cashew paste

Add tomato puree and cook for about 5-7 minutes. If the gravy is thicker than spaghetti sauce, add a bit of water. When you see oil on the surface of the gravy, turn off the heat.

Now it’s time to fry the koftas. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375° F in your deep fryer or a large pot. Form 1.5-inch-diameter balls from the plantain mixture and fry 4-5 at a time for 4-5 minutes or until deep golden brown.

Image: Kofta balls before frying

Kofta balls before frying

Image: Fried kofta balls

Fried kofta balls

Add the fried kofta to the gravy, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately over rice or with chapati, naan, or paratha. Serves 4-6.