6 cloves garlic
2 slices white bread, torn
2 dried chili peppers
1 large onion, quartered
1 inch knob ginger, peeled
1 cup canned whole tomatoes, hand crushed
1 lb ground chicken
8oz frozen spinach, drained and squeezed dry
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
3 teaspoons meat masala*, divided use
1 teaspoon garam masala, divided use
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
additional bread crumbs extra to roll meatballs
vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor or blender, puree the onion, garlic, chili peppers and ginger together. Set aside.
For the meatballs: In a small saucepan, heat the milk and the torn bread until the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.Then, in a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon meat masala, 2 tablespoons of the onion puree, the cooled milk/bread mixture, the 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, the egg and salt and pepper thoroughly until a wet mixture forms. Arrange some bread crumbs on a plate. Using your hands, form one inch meatballs from the mixture and roll in crumbs. Set aside. Fill a large pan (that has a lid) with about 1/2 inch of oil. Fry the meatballs, turning occasionally until they are browned on each side, this should take about 15-20 minutes. They do not have to be cooked all the way through, just browned.
For the sauce: Remove the meatballs from the pan and allow the meatballs to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Pour all but about 2 tablespoon of drippings out of the pan. Return to the stove over medium heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, saute until the mustard seeds pop, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining onion mixture and saute until it is golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes in their liquid, the rest of the garam masala, the meat masala, turmeric, salt, pepper and the spinach. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well combined. Return meatballs to the pan, stir to coat. Cover the pan and cook for about 40 minutes.
Serve with white rice.
*available at Indian grocery.
Generally kofta masala (also known as meatball curry) is made with lamb, but that can be difficult to find. We made this with ground chicken and it came out wonderfully. Ground chicken on its own tends to be a bit bland but it also absorbs any flavors you cook it with. This made it a perfect choice for this recipe. The meatballs took on the flavor of the fragrant sauce and made a very satisfying, tasty dish that was no harder to make than spaghetti and meatballs but a bit more exotic.