Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr
If you feel like a real vegetarian treat, this recipe is worth the time and effort. It's definitely not low calorie or low fat, but for a special occasion or dinner party, I have made it many times with rave reviews. This is from one of Madhur Jaffrey's books (World of the East Vegetarian cooking), with a few alterations. She mentions that in India they would use a more traditional long green squash, however since that's more uncommon in North America, the recipe calls for zucchini instead. I like more of the 'meatballs' than the recipe gives, so in the past I have doubled that part. Prep time may not be exact, however it does include the 1/2 hour when the zucchini sits. You can partially prepare ahead of time, see note below. Hope you enjoy!!
For the meatballs
- 3 medium zucchini
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 fresh green chile, minced (can use more or less, to your taste)
- 3 tablespoons onions (finely minced or grated)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ginger (finely minced or grated)
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely minced (aka chinese parsley)
- 1⁄2 cup chickpea flour
- vegetable oil (for frying)
For the gravy
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil (can use leftover from the frying above)
- 2 medium onions, finely (minced or grated)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (could use tinned)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin, roasted
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts, chopped (optional)
- Wash, trim and grate the zucchini - use the regular grate size on your grater, grating too fine may make it too soggy. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with the 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside for about 1/2 an hour.
- Once the zucchini has sat for about 1/2 an hour, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, using your hands or pressing through a fine mesh colander. Reserve the liquid you press out, it will be used in the gravy.
- Dry out the bowl and put the zucchini back in, add the minced chili, onion, ginger and 2 tbsp of the cilantro (reserve the rest of the cilantro for garnish).
- Sift the chickpea flour over the zucchini mixture. Mix well and form into about 20 balls. If they're too large, they won't cook well in the middle unless you fully immerse them in oil. I prefer to use as little oil as possible for frying, so I flatten them out a bit to make frying easier.
- In a skillet or wok heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in about 5 or 6 of the balls - or as many will fit in one layer with room around each of them. Fry for about 2 minutes, turning them until you get a nice even brown coat. I suggest you test one to get a feel for how long it will take to fully cook inside since it really depends on how large you make them, and how much oil is in your pan.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towel. Continue with the rest of the 'meatballs', then set aside.
- Use about 5 tbsp of the oil from the frying and put into a skillet or saute pan. Heat the oil over medium heat and add onion once the oil is hot. Fry the onion for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown and become translucent. Take care not to burn the onion. Once cooked, take the pan off the heat for a moment and add the turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin and coriander. Stir and then return to the heat.
- Add the tomatoes and let that cook for about 5 minutes to combine flavours.
- Add 1 cup of the zucchini 'juice' -- if you are short, top up with water to reach 1 cup.
- Bring to a boil the lower the heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Up to this point, you could prepare the recipe in advance.
- To finish, (reheat if you have made in advance), add the cream, garam masala, roasted cumin and salt. (To roast the cumin, just put it in a dry really hot pan for a few minutes taking care not to burn). Mix sauce well and bring to a simmer.
- Add the 'meatballs' and gently spoon the sauce over them, trying not to break any of them. The meatballs turn soft in the sauce, so only cook enough to warm them through and then serve immediately with basmati rice and/or roti or naan bread. Garnish with the reserved fresh cilantro and cashews if using.
I just ate this wonderful dish! Amazingly delicious! I eat only Prasadam (Hare Krishna blessed food), therefore I omitted the onions. I will make some for the temple. Thank you very much! Namaste! Nicole Poirier
Tried this recipe many years ago straight from Madhur Jaffrey's book. Found the serving size measurements to be a little small. Thought the recipe was time consuming and complicated (I had my boyfriend help me and it was still very complicated) but it was very very worth in the end. I saw that one reviewer thought it easy. Perhaps it was hard for us since we grated everything by hand. I do have a food processor now-- that might make it easier. I think I recall that I had wished we made more meatballs as there was so little meatballs compared to sauce.
I was very eager to try what really is a version of malai kofta, one of my favorite Indian dishes. I liked the gravy a lot more than the zucchini balls. They were a bit bland, so I added some cumin, coriander powder and cayenne to the mixture. Although I made my patties small and thin, I did have some issues with them not cooking through entirely. I pureed the tomatos and onions and after adding half-and-half cream, the sauce was almost restaurant quality.