Chicken kofta curry or chicken koftay ka salan is a traditional Pakistani curry made of chicken meatballs that are simmered in an onion-based curry. Serve with pickled onions, and rice or roti.
Pronounced as koftay / kofte, Pakistani or Indian style koftas are made of ground beef, chicken or lamb (depending on religious preferences) and shaped into round balls similar to Italian and Swedish meatballs. Instead of being grilled or fried, they are simmered into an onion based curry (what is referred to as a salan locally). In Pakistan, koftas are traditionally made of beef mince, however, the recipe I am sharing today is for chicken kofta curry or chicken koftay ka salan – and it’s a recipe that my mother developed after my father started avoiding beef due to health reasons.
Chicken mince can be on the bland side, and it requires herbs and spices to compensate for that lack of flavour. It took my mother a few tries, but once she figured out the recipe, this chicken kofta curry turned into a family favourite, being made regularly at home for everyday meals as well as dawaats. Not only are these chicken koftas healthier, they are so soft and delicate that they literally melt in your mouth. Read on ahead to find out my mother’s chicken kofta curry recipe.
Tips on making chicken kofta curry:
- Use boneless chicken cubes and process the meatball mixture yourself instead of purchasing pre-ground chicken mince from the butcher.
- In case you don’t have a food processor, then you can get chicken mince from the butcher. Finely chop the other meatball ingredients and mix together.
- Be careful when moving the chicken koftas in the gravy - use a spoon or move the pot around using pot holders. As the koftas are made from chicken, they are prone to breaking.
- The meatballs can be made in advance a day before – cover them with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. They can also be frozen – lay them out on a baking tray and freeze for an hour. Once they are frozen, remove them from the tray and put them in a Ziploc bag. Once you are ready to make the chicken kofta salan, add the frozen koftas in the gravy and increase cooking time by 5 minutes.
Looking for more Pakistani & Indian recipes for your weekly dinner inspiration. Check out the following:
- Ginger Chicken, Pakistani style
- Murghi ka Salan (Chicken curry with Onions and Tomatoes)
- Karahi Chicken
- Lobia ka Salan (Black eyed peas in curry)
- Aloo Gosht (Mutton Curry with Potatoes) – Stovetop & Pressure Cooker method
- Traditional Chicken Korma, Pakistani style
Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below!
Chicken Kofta Curry or Chicken Meatball Curry
For chicken koftas / chicken meatballs:
- ¼ kg boneless chicken cut into cubes
- 2 medium onions cut into quarters
- 1 inch piece ginger
- ½ bunch mint
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 green chilli
- 2 tablespoons chickpea flour, roasted also known as gramflour or besan
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder dhaniya powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
For the curry / gravy:
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 2 onion chopped
- 2 tablespoon yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
Method for making chicken koftas/ chicken meatballs:
- Place all the ingredients listed under the chicken kofta / meatball section in a food processor. Pulse for about 20 – 30 seconds till the chicken is turned into mince, and the rest of the ingredients are mixed together. Don’t process too much else the mixture will be too pasty.
- Place the meatball mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Take the mixture out of the fridge and form meatballs about 1 inch in diameter. Use a little oil to grease your hands to make it easier to form the meatballs. In case the mixture is too soft, add 1 – 2 teaspoons of roasted chickpea flour. Set aside.
- Heat oil in big pot. Fry onions till golden then take them out leaving the oil in the pot.
- Blend onions with yogurt in blender till a paste is formed.
- Heat the leftover oil from the onions and add ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, red chilli powder & salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the blended onion & yoghurt mixture. Cook on medium heat, and stir the mixture constantly till it turns a golden brown colour from an initial cream-ish colour. If the spice mixture is sticking to the bottom, add water in small increments. This process is called "bhunna" in Urdu / Hindi and is complete when oil can be seen on top of the masala.
- Add 3 cups of water to the masala and let it come to a boil.
- Once the curry is at a boil, add the chicken koftas / meatballs and cook for 5 minutes. Be careful while adding the koftas so that they don't break, and instead of using a spoon move the pot around using kitchen towel / pot holders to incorporate the kofta's in the salan/curry. The reason being that since the koftas are made from chicken, they are quite soft and prone to breaking, hence the best method is to swirl the pot around with a spoon only being used if required.
- Cook on high flame for 10-12 minutes, then let it simmer for around 30 minutes till cooked. Gravy can be adjusted on personal preference - I prefer a thinner gravy, but quite a few people prefer a more thicker gravy.
- Garnish with green coriander right before serving.
- Serve with a simple salad of sliced onions, salt, vinegar and fresh coriander along with fresh roti and/or steamed rice.