22 July 2011

Madhur Jaffrey Makes Koftas and Corn with Aromatic Seasonings

Koftas and Corn with Aromatic Seasonings

Born in Delhi, Madhur Jaffrey came to London, England at 19 to study drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and pursue her passion for acting. It was here that she learnt to cook from necessity not liking what she saw of campus food. She desperately missed home-cooked meals, so her mother would send her recipes through correspondence which she cooked with growing skill in her kitchen. At the heart of her cooking were fresh ingredients and the vibrant flavours of herbs and spices reminiscent of her home in India.

Cooking with Julia Child in 1995

Madhur acted in TV, film and radio productions in England, then headed to New York, where she wrote food articles to supplement her income and fund her children’s education. This foray into food writing led to hugely successful books and stints on TV programmes, made popular due to Madhur’s straight-talking approach which makes her number 7 in our forray through the list of Fifty women game changers from Gourmet Live.

Forget the mystery of the Taj Mahal, the residence of the Dali Lama or the sacred waters of the Ganges River the true mystery for me is producing outstanding East Indian cooking and the intricate layering of spices. The assortment of mouthwatering recipes of Indian food is simply awe inspiring and for a "newbie" like me rather daunting. Most Indian dishes are easily constructed but complexly layered so I followed along on another journey with Madhur and learned a few more techniques.

I have been travelling along with Mary of One Perfect Bite on an amazing culinary journey.  Gourmet Live brought out a list of the 50 most influential women in food...Fifty women game changers. Some are chefs, some are food writers, and some are women who are passionate about the creative process. You could certainly add or detract women from this list, but no matter what these women have all influenced us in one way or another. Being a woman and passionate about food myself I wanted to explore and join Mary on this journey and not only learn from the masters but recreate some of their dishes to better understand what has shaped and molded them into who they are today. In doing so I have learned more about myself, and have learned more than a few new recipes and techniques. Follow us on this journey while we take an in depth exploration of these women's lives and what has made them who they are.

For 50 weeks we will experiment with dishes from each of the 50 influential women on "the list". Whether you agree or disagree with the authors chosen fifty it will be an enjoyable and creative outlet to cook from the masters. My cohorts for this adventure can be found below. If you would like to join in  please contact Mary. This is an informal event and you have the flexibility to follow along when you can. She will be posting every Friday.

Madhur Jaffrey's spicy koftas drew me in. These are not the koftas grilled and spiked that I have grown to love but tiny little meatballs deeply layered with aromatic spices. They make a wonderful snack on cocktail sticks or are equally tasty served as a main with the spicy tomato sauce as I have here. This very traditional dish is best served with plain basmati rice. I served it with a side of her recipe for corn and some socca (chickpea flatbread) from my M.F.K. Fisher post as well.

As I continue on my journey to demistify East Indian cooking I become more and more confident with every turn of the pan and additon of spices. I made these dishes a few weeks ago. As you are reading this I am on vacation and visiting my old haunts in Southern Ontario, not to mention my family. You will hear all about it when I get back as well as my dinner and explorations with some local area bloggers!

What have we been up to.......

Joanne of Eats Well With Others - Chickpeas and Chana Dal Cooked Together in a Mint Sauce
Susan of The Spice Garden - Madhur Jaffrey’s Salmon with Mustard Seed and Coriander
Taryn of Have Kitchen, Will Feed - Silken Chicken
Heather of Girlichef - Tapioca Pearl Kheer
Miranda of Mangoes and Chutney - Ice Cream with Cardamon and Pistachios
Jeanette at Jeanette's Healthy Living - Cold Cucumber Soup
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud - Indian Spiced Corn
Sue of View from The Great Island -  Fish Fillets in Curry Sauce

On to the recipe....


450 g minced lamb or ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh, green coriander, very finely chopped (I used parsley)
3 tablespoons natural yogurt

For the sauce

5 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cm cube ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons water, plus 300ml
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon bright red paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cm cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
6 cloves
100 g onions, peeled and finely chopped
100 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped (a small can of tomatoes may be substituted)
4 tablespoons natural yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. To make the meatballs: Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Dip your hands in water whenever you need to and form about 30 meatballs.

2. For the sauce, put the garlic and ginger into the container of a food processor or blender along with 4 tablespoons water. Blend until you have a paste. Put the paste in a bowl. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne. Stir to mix.

3. To make the sauce: Put the oil in a heavy, 23-25cm wide pan or frying-pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves. Stir them for 3-4 seconds. Now put in the onions and fry them, stirring all the time, until they are reddish-brown in colour. Turn the heat to medium and put in the paste from the bowl as well as the chopped tomatoes. Stir and fry this mixture until it turns a brownish colour. When it begins to catch, add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt. Stir and fry some more until the yogurt is incorporated into the sauce. Now add another tablespoon of yogurt. Incorporate that into the sauce as well. Keep doing this until you have put in all the yogurt. Now put in 300ml water and the salt. Stir and bring to a simmer.

4. Put in all the meatballs in a single layer. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, turn heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir very gently every 5 minutes or so, making sure not to break the meatballs. Towards the end of the cooking period, you should scrape the bottom of the pan just to make sure the sauce is not catching. If necessary, add a tablespoon or so of water. Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium-low. Stir gently and cook until the meatballs have a browned look. All the sauce should now be clinging to the meatballs and there should be just a little fat left at the bottom of the pan.

5. When you are ready to eat, heat the koftas gently. Lift them out of the fat and shake off any whole spices that may be clinging to them. Stick a toothpick into each kofta if serving with drinks.

6. If you have these koftas for dinner, you could leave more of a sauce.

Makes 30 meatballs and serves 6 for snacks, 4 for dinner

An easy, perfumed, stir-fried corn dish that can be made with fresh or frozen corn.

**Corn With Aromatic Seasonings**

3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
One 1-inch cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot green chiles (do not discard seeds)
4 cups corn cut fresh off the cobs, or two 10-ounce packets of frozen corn, defrosted and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

 1. Pour the oil into a frying pan and set over medium heat.

 2. Meanwhile, combine the mustard seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves in a small cup.

 3. When the oil is hot, put in all the whole spices. As soon as the mustard seeds pop, a matter of seconds, add the ginger and green chiles. Stir once or twice, and then add in the corn. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes.

 4. Add the salt and cream. Continue to stir and cook for another minute. Turn heat to low and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until all the cream is absorbed. You can pick out and discard the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves if you are serving those unaccustomed to large whole spices in their foods.

 Serves 4 to 6.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Love this series Val. I'm not familiar with koftas, but we love anything with lamb, so I know I would like these.

  2. I really like what Madhur Jaffrey does. That recipe sounds wonderful and the dish looks mighty scrumptious!



  3. Although there are a lot of ingredients to this dish, it sounds great. I can just smell all of those spices now!

  4. Delightful! Love the creamy spicy sauce for the corn! And the idea of the koftas as cocktail fare is inspiring me!

    Excellent post, Val! Hope vacation is going well and you're not wilting in the heat and humidity!

  5. What wonderful choices, Val. They look beautiful and I know they are delicious. You are a great cooking companion. I'm so glad you are making this journey with us. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. Both of these dishes sound amazing. I love little meatballs, and now that I have all the spices from doing this tribute I look forward to trying these. All our local fresh corn is just coming in around here, and I like the idea of using it in this unusual way. Great choices!

  7. I am thoroughly intrigued by Indian cooking. I have a couple cookbooks, I've accumulated a few spices, and I've done some innocuous things like add garam masala to egg salad. (Delish.) But I've never really cooked Indian. I'm re-inspired! Thanks!

  8. AnonymousJuly 22, 2011

    I've never heard of her, but I love learning something new!

  9. Thanks for sharing the lovely recipes

  10. What a delicious looking combination of dishes! I love all the research you do about the different women each week. I learn so much just by reading about them on your blog!

  11. I LOVE koftas, but I have only ever had vegetarian ones with potatoes and paneer, which I call "Indian gnocchi". :-D These look like a nice twist and very tasty - and what an amazing sauce. I also think I want to serve that corn as a side dish for my next dinner party!

  12. So awesome (and I love that cool serving dish). I SO want to gather everybody's ventures together and have a wonderful Madhur Jaffrey-inspired buffet =)

  13. Sounds delicious! My parents are from India and I'm always looking for good East Indian recipes. Although I feel like my Indian cooking never measures up to my Mom's. I'm going to try this recipe, thanks for sharing. You have a beautiful blog, and I'm your latest follower. If you have a moment I would love it if you stopped by my family's site.

  14. I am so enjoying this series. This recipe looks very delicious and like something you would get in a fine restaurant!

  15. I love how you combined chefs for this post! The socca sounds just lovely with the kofta. Perfect for sopping up all that sauce!

  16. Val - this looks amazing! Loving the corn with aromatic seasonings - sounds good!

  17. Looks delicious Val. There's no denying that Indian food is fragrant.

    Can't wait to hear about your adventures!

  18. So enjoying this series, Val. I emailed Mary about joining in and hope it will be possible. I'm going to be gone in August, but hopefully we can work this out.
    I've not done much Indian cooking, but these koftas are certainly the way to begin. Fabulous dish.
    Hope you're having a wonderful vacation, Val!

  19. I adore aromatics - and cardomom and I have seen this person on TV, too - cannot wait to try this - and Valerie - it is not like you to not respond... but I have sent two personal e-mails and then written a personal message on the last post asking you to check them. Please delete this part of the message before you approve it - but If you could let me knwo you are getting the messages and whether or not you are still interested in the fall - September cooking class on Salt Spring Island with Mara - I would really appreciate it. I need 4 people, including me... well, she does to have the class happen. I have another gal, and myself - she thinks she has a friend or two - and I thought it would be a blast for you to come with us!

  20. Excellent post about one of my favourite cooks, and favourite cuisine too! I have many of her books and cook a curry at least once a fortnight, more in ther winter!

  21. Lovely and amazing post dear Vall, what interesting and nice stories, love them!! gloria

  22. I've never made koftas, so I'm so glad that you chose this recipe to try in honor of Madhur Jaffrey. The spices and seasonings in these little meatballs and the sauce are making my mouth water.

  23. I love Indian food but have never had koftas, Val. Reading through the list of ingredients has me salivating though. I'd love this dish! :-)

  24. Yum! The sauce sounds incredible!

  25. This koftas sounds so good!

  26. Val, this sounds off the charts amazing!

  27. What a great way to celebrate these women. That looks incredible.

  28. I see my comment got posted so you must have read it, but i still haven't heard from you, Val.

  29. Hers was one of the first cook books I purchased many moons ago. I really enjoyed this post Val. Thanks for the memories.


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