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  • Tanya Carneiro

Pakistani Kofta Curry

Beef Kofta Curry, also known as kofte, is a quintessentially Pakistani curry consisting of tender meatballs that have been gently simmerd in a rich-spiced gravy .

This 200 year old recipe was given to me by my friend's grandmother , who had it passed down to her from her grandmother !

If only I had a dollar for every time I was asked "What is the difference between Indian & Pakistani food?"

My answer is always to understand firstly , that cuisines are not entirely national; geographic borders do not determine specific dishes or methods of cooking a recipe . There is quite a lot of similarities between both countries' foods.

That being said, there are also certain distinct differences to note .

You will notice that Pakistani curries, such as this one - use beef as their choice of protein , along with chicken and lamb but never pork.

Indian dishes , use meat from game , sheep and goat.


Serves 4

Meatball Ingredients

½ large red onion cut into chunks

½ green chili, seeds removed , chop into chunks

¼ cup packed coriander leaves

1 tbsp mint leaves

2 tsp garlic paste

2 tsp ginger paste

1 x 500g lean ground beef

1 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)

1 egg mixed

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp each cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper powder, red chili powder, and garam masala

1 tsp salt

Gravy Ingredients :

1 red onion extra finely chopped

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped + remove pulp

½ green chili chopped fine

2tbs olive oil

3 whole cloves , 1 inch cinnamon stick1 bay leaf 3 cardamom pods

2 tsp ginger and garlic paste , each.

2 tbsp plain yogurt (NOT Greek)

1 tsp each coriander powder, red chili powder


2 cups water

½ tsp garam masala powder

1-2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped rough


Make meatballs :

1. Grind onion, green chili, coriander leaves, and mint leaves in a food processor , blend to a smooth consistency no bits of onion or they’ll make the meatballs break up .

2. In a large bowl , add this blended paste to the rest of the ingredients listed under meatballs and mix with your hand ensuring its completely blended (this takes a few min).

3. Use a food glove it makes it not stick to your hands and a nice circular shape.

4. Put them on a plate and pop in the freezer whilst you get the sauce cooking ready.

Make sauce :

1.Put 2 tbs olive oil in a wide pan (best is a casserole pan shape to not crowd them) . Once the oil is hot enough , tilt the pan and collect the oil so it covers all the whole spices you will add in . Fry these only for around 15 seconds

2.Add fine chopped onion , and fry couple mins. Add the garlic and ginger paste, cook another couple minutes until onions are light brown .

3.Add the powder spices , and the fine chopped tomatoes along with a couple pinches of salt , fry for a minute and then add 1 cup water mix and cover pan to soften to thickish jammy consistency. (medium flame)

4. Add the yogurt and gently mix until its all combined , it will look slightly grainy at first (low flame) .

5.Arrange the meatballs in a circle , in the pan and put the lid on , cook covered 10 minutes on medium heat . Swirl the pan with the cover on , and cook for another couple minutes.

6.Uncover and turn the meatballs on the opposite side and cover and cook another 10 minutes .

7.Open the lid , add a splash of whole milk (1/4 cup max) , along with chopped coriander (3 tbs) and swirl the pan don’t mix it. Add 1 squeeze of lemon at the end .

8.Check salt and serve with rice



  • I prefer using lean beef mince instead of regular / fatty mince . This provides a cleaner flavour.

  • For those of you who wash your mince , please ensure you squeeze the excess water out and allow the mince to dry out a bit before using.

  • After rolling your meatballs, you can cover them with cling film and refrigerate overnight or even freeze them & complete the curry later.

  • I’ve used beef, but you can easily substitute with ground chicken or lamb. If your meatballs are not holding together tightly, add breadcrumbs to the mixture.

  • Traditionally, kofta curries are garnished with quartered boiled eggs. I tend to hard boil the eggs in another pan and add them right at the end so you can taste the contrasting flavours .

  • If you are reheating this dish the next day , please add a couple of tablespoons of water before reheating on the stove or microwave as the gravy does thicken after cooling.

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