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Beef Kofta Curry

April 6, 2012

Curry, loosely termed, is one of those dishes that everyone thinks they can cook incredibly well. However, more often than not it turns out that those who have claimed such a thing are spectacularly mistaken. Indeed, I’ve met very few people who can cook a remarkable curry, which is almost surprising given the many declarations of brilliance. Remember this, preparing a curry by using a shop-bought paste does not count as making a curry. When constructing a curry intended to be truly exquisite, it is impossible to undervalue time, attention and a homemade spice mix. Though one may rest assured that once one has undertaken the feat of making a homemade curry, one shall never intentionally return to the relatively insipid paste which insists on emerging from the dingy recesses of a factory filled glass jar. There’s nothing quite like a harsh lesson in reality, is there?

Good Friday is upon us. However, since it is probably for the best that this blog maintains its secular approach, no more shall be said regarding the historical events of this day. It is regrettable that a culinary celebration of this particular holiday has not yet been possible, though something may come the way of my flock shortly. Indeed, it is perhaps true that an Easter themed post would have been the most appropriate for today. When it does come you have my good and honest word that it’ll be spectacular, rustic and full of an appropriately unbridled amount of chocolate.

As it happens, something equally enticing and delicious has been lined up. Please enjoy this beef kofta curry, the main ingredient of which is minced beef; a much underrated and often incredibly maligned ingredient in Asian cuisine.

Beef Kofta Curry

Serves 3-4


• 500g lean beef mince

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 1 large knob of fresh ginger

• 4 cloves of garlic

• 2 fresh chillies

• A handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• 1 ½ tsp ground cumin

• 1 ½ tsp ground coriander

• 1 tsp ground turmeric

• 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 tbsp tomato puree

• Olive oil

• Salt and pepper


1. The first thing to do is to blend the garlic, ginger and chillies together with a little olive oil. To make the koftas, simply mix together the beef mince, half of the above paste, most of the fresh coriander, the cinnamon, ½ tsp of cumin, ½ tsp ground coriander and a little salt and pepper. Form the resultant mixture into 9-12 little balls depending on the number of people.

2. To begin making the sauce, fry the onions in a generous glug of olive oil, the turmeric as well as the remaining cumin and ground coriander. After 5 minutes of simmering add the rest of the paste. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes before adding and breaking the tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes before adding roughly 100ml of water and the puree. Season, stir thoroughly and allow to simmer for at least 40 minutes.

3. While the sauce is reducing begin frying off the kofta balls in a little oil. They want to be browned all over. Once this is done add the resultant oil, beef fat and kofta balls to the pot. Cook this on a gentle heat until the time is up and the sauce has reduced. Simply pop on a lid if the sauce is in danger of becoming too stodgy. Serve with a little rice and a smattering of fresh coriander.

Cost: Curry has to be one of the most economical types of food out there. Not only does it always pack a flavourful punch, but it does so on a budget. This entire meal will set one back around £4.20, even I thought it would cost a little more than that!

94 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2012 9:09 am

    All the women in my family would bury me alive if I explored curry powder or curry paste from a jar as prospective ingredients. 😀

    • April 6, 2012 9:33 am

      and so they should…

    • April 6, 2012 1:04 pm

      The first of only about five meals my partner has ever made me was about a week into our courtship and consisted of a curry made with curry paste which he was SO PROUD of because he “doesn’t cook”. I informed him on his flourished presentation that using jarred paste does not count as cooking. He reminded me of this about three months ago when he finally made a real curry. I have had to make many apologies for my 21 year old self’s lack of grace.

  2. April 6, 2012 9:37 am

    Mediocre curry – sure… But I can never reproduce a good curry. Now, if you could only add a good naan recipe…

  3. April 6, 2012 10:57 am

    Beautiful and I was pleased to see it contained beef mince. Bizarrely it´s difficult for us to buy steak here but beef mince is available and will be good for my curry cravings! Love the straighforward spice mix, very nice indeed.

  4. April 6, 2012 1:00 pm

    I was always really “meh” about curries until I discovered Madhur Jaffrey last year and went on a curry spree for about three months and ended up currying myself out. This, though, makes me nostalgic and wanting to pick up the spice grinder again. Thanks again Nick, for reigniting dormant interests.

    • April 13, 2012 9:03 pm

      Oh no, one must never be meh about curries – one must simply learn how to cook them. Grind away… hmm.

  5. April 6, 2012 1:37 pm

    That looks really good. Nice skillet.

  6. Lauren's Plate permalink
    April 6, 2012 1:58 pm

    Can’t hurry curry. Like your post.

  7. April 6, 2012 2:04 pm

    Yum! The color of the sauce is so inviting!

  8. April 6, 2012 2:45 pm

    This looks delicious and I can imagine how good it smells. Just the thing for dinner sometime this weekend, to help me recuperate from the family dinner for 12 that I’m hosting this afternoon (speaking of Easter). This ones going on my list of recipes to try!

  9. April 6, 2012 2:45 pm

    This summer out at the lake, I had an impromptu “curry” lesson from a friend’s father.. this man carried his curry with him everywhere and close to his heart. He brought out his box filled with little containers full of spices and various “secret” combinations. He shared a little lesson with me because he is getting on in age and felt worried it would be lost. I have my notes but still feel terrified to try.. I love your recipe today.. with all of our snow, it will be perfect for supper tonight! Happy Easter… but I do hope you get around to something spectacularly chocolate, I would love that as well!

  10. April 6, 2012 4:33 pm

    I love a good homemade curry and this looks delicious! Wishing you a happy and peaceful Easter. 🙂

  11. April 6, 2012 4:39 pm

    I am a veggie and yet that looks yummy!

  12. April 6, 2012 5:09 pm

    Curry from a jar or bottle is as hideous as “Italian Seasoning” in a bottle. Or the other atrocity found in most U.S. grocery stores “Pumpkin Pie Spice” also in a little jar.

  13. April 6, 2012 5:47 pm

    Way to go!! I made a big portion of homemade curry powder the other day. The whole house smelled very exotic. Yes, it take some time but man it makes all the difference in the world! Thank you for all your great recipes I will try this one for sure 🙂
    Happy Easter!

    • April 13, 2012 9:00 pm

      Ah, good idea! It really does make all the difference. Happy Easter to you too.

  14. April 6, 2012 7:36 pm

    I love that you provide a conversion chart for us “Yanks” over here in the US. Brilliant! 😉 and… looks yummy as always 🙂

  15. April 6, 2012 7:49 pm

    Just look sat this amazing, hearty dish. I just love it. That beef looks so amazing and I bet the curry flavor is great in this.

  16. April 6, 2012 7:58 pm

    Good homemade curry is always delicious, I remember the first time I have it was in England on my mothers-in-low house, just great, happy Easter to you and your family, 🙂

  17. April 6, 2012 8:20 pm

    Honest to goodness…a meat dish I might actually be able to cook for my husband! This looks great – and I agree with you about the curry – no jars of paste in our house!

  18. April 6, 2012 8:27 pm

    I’ve encountered a few too many of those who think they can make “amazing curry” but as it turns out, cannot. I’ve never liked curry for that reason but perhaps this recipe can turn that around. Looks wonderful!

  19. April 6, 2012 8:28 pm

    Tomato-based curries always make me smile! I feel like you don’t ever see enough of them even though they are a great vehicle for spice and sweetness. You also don’t see enough curries with beef. They do exist and they are delicious!

    Good for you too for calling out those who use jarred curry pastes. They just taste like high-fructose corn syrup and burnt laundry. Blech!

  20. jdubs permalink
    April 6, 2012 10:38 pm

    i just happened to make some koftas for the first time this week with lamb and beef!

  21. April 7, 2012 6:38 am

    Here in Asia, you should see the cost of beef. It is crazy. For a half a pound of minced beef it is about 4-5 Euros imported from Australia or US. Now of course I could buy it much cheaper from China, but I just can’t as the QA is not where it should be. I think that is why you do not see curries often made with beef.

  22. April 7, 2012 7:47 am

    Reblogged this on I Am Layla James: and commented:
    Yum! ~ Layla

  23. April 7, 2012 12:08 pm

    This is gorgeous!

  24. April 7, 2012 2:02 pm

    A good curry is amazing – flavor that cannot come from a jar or packet!
    have you ever made Aloo Gobi (pardon the spelling – I am not that familiar with Indian food) Cauliflower and potatoes?
    Amazing aroma and tantalizing taste.

    Nice shot of the pan being put to good use!

    • April 13, 2012 8:54 pm

      It really is – the flavour must be as fresh as possible. I haven’t but perhaps I shall now you’ve mentioned it!

  25. April 7, 2012 3:33 pm

    Thanks for all the recipes I catch up today at your blog, I am sure it would be delicious! Not just the food looks great, it presented great and the photography is awesome! You should start a cookbook! Thanks for everything! I am glad today you are one of my blogs to visit! Have a great Easter weekend! 🙂

  26. April 7, 2012 7:30 pm

    Looks easy, tasty and frugal. Just a great all around recipe!

  27. April 7, 2012 8:57 pm

    This looks fabulous. I’m going to try this out

  28. April 8, 2012 12:08 am

    Nick, that looks mouthwateringly delicious! Can I just say though, and with apologies for being contradictory, that in many Asian cultures, generations of people have used pre-prepared curry pastes? All the very dedicated cook-from-scratch elderly relatives in my extended Malaysian Chinese family have always hunted out the best curry pastes (rarely curry powders) for their dishes – I’ve never known any of them to make their paste from scratch. Lots of Malaysians do, of course, but it’s far more common to use a pre-made paste. I believe the same is true of Thai cooking as well.

    Having said that, most of the curry pastes available in Western supermarkets are abyssmal. 🙂

    • April 8, 2012 11:31 am

      I suppose that was more my point – it was purely based on my experience in Britain. I can imagine that there are some incredible curry pastes around the world… but here they are few and far between. Thanks for the info though, Celia!

  29. April 8, 2012 8:02 am

    Here here to the home made curry…the only way 🙂

  30. April 9, 2012 5:31 am

    This looks absolutely delicious. I am totally guilty of using prepared curry pastes on occasion. Shameful =) The ingredients in the one you’ve prepared here are almost always in my pantry/fridge. I will reform! Someday…

  31. April 9, 2012 10:09 pm

    Ah, how I’ve missed your raw, honest and candid writing. How true “more often than not it turns out that those who have claimed such a thing are spectacularly mistaken.” Looks very tasty, and looking forward to the post filled with copious amounts of chocolate!

  32. April 10, 2012 3:09 pm

    Mmmm, I LOVE kofta (I always order it at Turkish restaurants)! I’ll have to give your version a try!!

  33. April 12, 2012 4:29 pm

    This looks amazing! Going to make it tonight!

  34. April 12, 2012 10:45 pm

    There is nothing more satisfying than making your own curry paste- it’s worth the effort. However although I wouldn’t use a shop brought paste myself I dont begrudge those that do- if it means they’re cooking and not the curry house down the road then that’s only a few steps away from the above result. : )

    • April 14, 2012 6:06 pm

      Exactly. I’m afraid I do enjoy begrudging. I suppose it’s a little better – but it’s still lazy 😀

      • April 14, 2012 8:30 pm

        I can’t deny that, even a deconstructed curry paste is better that a shop brought one. I guess people have different standards and also not everyone is into food. Begrudge away!

      • April 14, 2012 8:37 pm

        Indeed. If it suits them, it’s fine, but it is a little lazy – it’s so much healthier to make your own as well.

  35. April 12, 2012 11:41 pm

    Ok I nver thought I would ever comment on a curry post but yum. I think I have most of the ingredients (ish) so am going to give it a go.

  36. April 13, 2012 8:56 am

    Oh! I have tried cooking this dish last night and it tasted amazing especially for the fact that we have been to India lately!Loving It
    Dish SOS Team

  37. April 13, 2012 4:37 pm

    I’m still learning about making curries, the flavours are still new to me. Thank you for the how-to instructions. This looks delicious 🙂

  38. Julie Checknita - Skinny Eats Tasty Treats permalink
    April 14, 2012 10:57 pm

    Oh wow, this looks great. Think I will be trying this one. 🙂

  39. April 15, 2012 11:01 am

    I will be making this this week. Very excited.


  40. April 18, 2012 5:51 am

    A good curry meal is always so satisfying 🙂 I haven’t been one to whip up curry at home but I want to try this recipe soon. Thanks!

  41. ErikaFlorence permalink
    April 23, 2012 9:29 pm

    This looks so insanely fabulous. Definitely making this soon.

  42. abcd permalink
    June 29, 2012 6:12 pm

    Great curry can be ruined by bad rice – i highly recommend ditching the long grain and getting some quality basmati or similar

  43. October 28, 2012 7:51 am

    One can certainly buy good quality curry powder. Not sure about curry paste. I cook a lot, and usually use curry poweder in packets for vegetable dishes. Meat/fish dishes are special (I usually cook just once a week non-veg), so I like to make my own powder.

    • October 28, 2012 10:46 pm

      PErsonally, I’ve never come across a really exceptional curry powder – I always make my own. I rarely cook with meat these days either.


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