Kofta is a Middle Eastern and South Asian meatball or
dumpling. The word kofta is derived from
Persian kūfta. In Persian, کوفتن (Kuftan) means "to beat" or "to
grind" or meatball.
Left: Kofta (Kufteh Tabrizi).
In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or
ground meat — usually beef or lamb — mixed with spices and/or onions. The
vegetarian variety like lauki kofta, shahi aloo kofta are popular
The meat is often mixed with other ingredients such as rice,
Bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a smooth paste. Koftas are sometimes made
with fish or vegetables rather than meat, especially in India. They can be
grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a
rich spicy sauce. Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Central
Europe, Asia and India. There are
nearly 300 different kinds of kofta in Turkey, where it is very popular.
In Arab countries, kufta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
Early recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks)
generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls, and glazed with
egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the west and is
referred to as gilding, or endoring. Many regional variations exist, notable
among them the unusually large Iranian Kufteh Tabrizi (see
the photo above), having an average diameter of 20cm (8").
Koftas in South Asian cuisine are normally cooked in a spicy curry and sometimes
with whole pre-boiled eggs. Sometimes the eggs are encased in a layer of the
spicy kofta meat so that the final product resembles an Indian Scotch egg. These
kofta dishes are very popular with South Asian families and are widely available
from many Indian restaurants. In Bengal, a region of East India, koftas are made
with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat.