Nancy's photos 188

Malai Kofta with Roasted Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Puree/Soup

Nancy's photos 192

Malai Kofta with Yogurt Dipping Sauce

This past weekend Harry and I took a trip to Ithaca, NY to do some running, go out to dinner, and look at the beautiful fall colors that are appearing more rapidly in upstate New York than down here on Long Island.  After a short stay at his parents in Mahopac (Chinese food with the Butcher gang) we took off for Ithaca.  If you don’t already know, Ithaca is located in central New York and is home to the eminent Cornell University and Ithaca College, respectively.  Ithaca is also home to some culinary history as being the location where the ice cream sundae was invented in 1891 by Chester Platt (others claim the origin to be elsewhere). 

The highlight of our trip (besides the beautiful scenery we ran around within the Cornell campus) was the Indian restaurant we ate at shortly after we arrived on Saturday night.  We always stay in a Holiday Inn and this one proved to be in a most convenient location (aside from being smack dab in downtown Ithaca), across from an Indian restaurant with a liquor store in clear view.  We both love Indian food, I make it often at home, but we find that Long Island is not a central hub for great Indian food.    It was karma, literally.  We did a quick jog around Ithaca to build up a proper appetite and then back to the hotel to clean up and have an apertif. 

We were given a booth seat by the window at New Delhi Diamond’s ( which at one time must have been a diner based on the decor.  We ordered a bottle of wine that turned out to be less than stellar so we happily switched to beer.  As a starter we ordered the Paneer (Indian cheese) Pakora which was akin to a mozzerella stick.  A thick slice of paneer was ensconced in a chickpea flour coating and then deep fried.  They were delish and not the least bit greasy.  Dinner was the standout though.  Ahem, my entree was the standout (Harry said his Chicken Tikka Masala was the tastiest he has ever had).  I ordered the Kofta Curry which is described on the menu as “ground vegetable balls simmmered in sauce with spices”.   I did some research and they are traditionally called “malai kofta” and are an Indian vegetarian alternative to the meatball.  They were shaped like meatballs and tasted of a mixture of vegetables/legumes/herbs commonly used in Indian cooking (cauliflower, potato, spinach, chickpeas, cilantro) delicately spiced and floating in an aromatic gravy/sauce that was spicy, sweet, and pungent all at the same time.  It was heaven and I cleaned my plate in entirety.  As we were paying the bill, I complimented the dish that I had and asked for an approximate recipe.  The waitress/proprietress rattled off some ingredients but my ears pricked at the mention of chickpea flour (which is a flour made from chickpeas and frequently also used in gluten free recipes for thickening, baking etc).  I was dying to get back in my own kitchen and make these.

For a family dinner on Tuesday, I paired the kofta with a roasted butternut coconut curry soup/puree as I  had picked up some NY State butternut squashes.  The soup/puree is really just a rendition of another butternut squash soup I posted about earlier this year.  For the last night that I ate the kofta I paired them with a simple yogurt dipping sauce.  My koftas, while different than the restaurant were tender, spicy, and light all at the same time.  Next time you are in Ithaca try Diamond’s and then make these when you get home!

Malai Kofta
Inspired by trip to Ithac and a Gourmet magazine recipe, Oct. 2008 Zucchini Kofta pg. 126 following the announcement of the demise of Gourmet magazine.

Prep time: 1 hr
Cooking time: 10-15 min.
Servings: 8-10

2 lbs zucchini, seeded and shredded
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 roasted butternut squash
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
2.5-3 tsp. cumin
1.5 tsp. coriander
1.5 tsp. salt
black pepper
2.5-3 c. chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand usually found in health food stores)
coconut oil/olive oil for pan frying

After shredding zucchini and carrots (I used the coarse grater on my food processor but it could be done by hand as well) line a large cookie sheet with paper towels and evenly spread out zucchini and carrots.  Cover with a good thick layer of paper towels and weight down for about an hour.   You can do this step the night before if you want.  In a large bowl mash the chickpeas and butternut squash until almost smooth.  Add in drained zucchini and carrots and mix in garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, parsley, and cilantro.  Add chickpea flour a little bit at a time until kofta hold their shape like an actual meatball.  You may not use all the chickpea flour or you may need a bit more.  Chill formed balls (about walnut size) for 30 minutes.  Heat 2 tblsp of coconut oil at a time and pan fry koftas until browned on all sides in batches.  Drain on paper towels and serve in soup, with yogurt sauce, dipped in hummus, or just by themselves.

Yogurt Sauce
This is a very inexact recipe.  I just threw so stuff in a bowl and mixed it but it was good! 

1 small cup of Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 small handful parsley, finely chopped
sprinkling of cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

Mix all ingredient

Roasted Butternut Squash Coconunt Curry Soup/Puree

Prep time: 1 hr
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: approximately 12 depending on how thick or thin you make it

2 tblsp. coconut oil
3 medium roasted butternut squashes (you will only use 2.5 here, reserve other half for kofta), halved and seeded
2 lg yellow onions, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 inches ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tblsp soy sauce
1 tblsp red curry paste (I like the Thai Kitchen brand found in most supermarkets)
2 tsp garam masala/curry powder
1 can coconut milk
2 c. low sodium/sodium free veggie broth (or more to your taste)
salt and pepper to your taste
1 handful cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F and lightly coat a large cookie sheet with olive oil.  Sprinkle each half of butternut squash with salt and pepper and lay cut side down on cookie sheet.  Bake for about an hour until fork tender.  Let cool for a bit and peel skin off, I used an old grapefrut spoon but you could use a paring knife.  Cut into chunks.

While butternut squash is roasting you can get started on the soup.  In a large heavy bottomed pot heat up coconut oil at medium heat.  Add in onions, garlic, and ginger and saute till onion turns transluscent (about 8 min.).  Add in red pepper, jalapeno, season with salt and pepper and cook for about another 10 minutes (stirring and taking care not to burn).  I started with 1 tsp of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.  Add in soy sauce, red curry paste, garam masala/curry powder and stir to coat.  Add in coconut milk, veggie broth, and 2.5 of the roasted butternut squashes and stir to combine.  I used my potato masher to further mash up the butternut squash.  Bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.  Puree if desired in batches in blender.  Return to pot and add extra broth depending on how thick/thin you want it to be and season to taste.  Ladle bowls up and add in kofta balls and heat gently.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.