Nargisi Koftas in this recipe are stuffed cucumber dumplings in spiced gravy and Lachchha Paratha is flaky, layered Indian flat bread. This recipe can easily be made vegan. The vegan alternatives have been suggested in the detailed recipe.
At a whim, I would be like I want to make these Koftas and my Nanny would get all the ingredients for me – either available at home, or would run to the market to fetch it and get it ready for me to cook. And then, I used to make it and we used to enjoy eating these. It is an ode to my Nanny – my caretaker – my everything. It’s a recipe filled with love, memories, and a lifelong bond I share with her. The secret ingredient is love, and hence it always comes out delicious every single time I make it.
Nargisi koftas are generally made with eggs. This is an eggless recipe, and the koftas are stuffed instead with khoya and cashew mixture. It was quite an elaborate recipe for a novice learning how to cook. Over the years, I have made this from my memory from back then, and have tried to recreate the same written recipe, as best as I could.
- 1 qty Cucumber large
- 1 qty Onion large
- 1-2 cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Ginger
- 4 qty Tomatoes medium
- 2-3 tablespoons Oil + for frying
- 2/3 cup Gram flour (can increase quantity if need be)
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 4 qty Cloves
- 2 qty Black cardamom
- 2 qty Star anise
- 2 qty Bay leaves
- to taste Salt
- 3 teaspoons Garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon Red chili powder (I used deggi mirch)
- 5 tablespoons Cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoon Raisins
- 1 tablespoon Coriander leaves
- 4 tablespoons Khoya/mawa (use tofu for vegan version)
- 3-4 tablespoons Heavy cream Optional (use non-dairy cream or milk for vegan version)
- 1 tablespoon Corn starch Optional
- Peel and grate cucumber. Squeeze all the water out of the grated cucumber and keep the water aside for later use.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add 1/2 inch cinnamon stick, 1 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 2 cloves, 1 star anise. Add half of the chopped ginger and garlic.
- Saute for a minute. Add 1/4 onion, finely chopped. Saute it well for 2-3 minutes. Add grated cucumber. Saute for a few minutes. Add salt to taste, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder. Mix well. Add gram flour and saute for a few minutes such that the raw flavor of gram flour is gone. The mixture shouldn’t be overly dry or wet. You may adjust the quantity of gram flour accordingly. In the end, it should be just right to form koftas by hand. Saute for a few minutes until both the cucumber and gram flour are cooked, and turn off the heat. Keep the mixture aside for cooling. Once it cools down, remove all the whole garam masala (cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, star anise, cloves) and either re-use it in the gravy or discard it.
- Grate khoya, add 3 tablespoons chopped cashews, 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, and 1 tablespoon chopped raisins. (the remaining cashews are to be used for the gravy). Mix well.
- Divide the cucumber mixture into equal golf-sized balls once it cools down. Make equal number of marble sized balls from the khoya mixture.
- Take one cucumber mixture ball in palm, flatten into a disc with hand, put the mawa mixture ball in between and fold it to roll into a ball. Make sure it’s nice and smooth or else it might break when added for frying. Also, you may lightly press it while making the koftas such that there is no gap inside between the khoya ball and the outer layer so that the koftas don’t break when frying. You may lightly roll these balls in corn starch or all purpose flour.
- Heat oil for frying. Once it is hot, add one kofta. These are very delicate so be careful such that it doesn’t disintegrate in oil. Don’t flip it too much or too soon. Once it is ok, add a few more balls, making sure not to overcrowd the oil. Gently turn it around when it seems like it’s cooked from one side. Once done, remove it on a plate. Fry rest of the koftas.
- Koftas can be added to the gravy right before serving it. You may prick the koftas with a fork, such that it absorbs gravy when dunked in the gravy.
- Puree 3/4 of the onion, keep it aside.
- Puree all tomatoes, keep it aside.
- Soak 2 tablespoons of cashew nuts in water.
- Heat oil. Add 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon, 1 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 2 cloves, 1 star anise. In addition, you may also add the whole spices which were kept aside from the kofta mixture. Saute.
- Add the remaining half of the chopped ginger and garlic. Add pureed onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Add pureed tomatoes. Saute for another 5-7 minutes. Add garam masala, red chili powder, salt, turmeric. Saute for a few more minutes.
- Grind the soaked cashewnuts in the same water these were soaked. Add the ground mixture to the gravy. Add kasuri methi.
- Cover and cook for another 10 or so minutes, until the oil starts leaving the sides. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream (optional). Turn off the heat after a couple of minutes.
- Remove the whole spices that were added before serving.
- The ingredients listed are for both – making kofta as well as gravy. Please note most of it is to be used for both and so the quantity listed above is total quantity, but the quantity listed in recipe below is the quantity needed to be used for each of the 2 elements.
The koftas can be added to the gravy either while the gravy is simmering, or right after the gravy is made, or just a few minutes before eating. Depending upon how the koftas turn out – if it’s bit on the harder side, prick it with fork and add it to the gravy while it’s simmering during the last few minutes of the simmer. If it’s medium consistency, add it right after the gravy is made. If it’s very soft, add it only when serving.
This recipe tastes great even on the next day as the spices set in quite well.
- This recipe can easily be made vegan by replacing khoya with tofu and heavy cream with non-dairy cream/milk.
Nargisi Kofta can be enjoyed with Paratha, Roti (Indian flat bread), or rice. Here I have added a recipe for Lachchha paratha, which is a flaky flat bread with layers.
- Take flour in a pan, add salt, mix well. Add oil, mix.
- Gradually add water so as to make a soft pliable dough.
- Once the dough is ready, knead the dough well for 5 minutes. Keep the dough aside at least for 30 minutes.
- Make slightly bigger than golf ball sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll into a very thin round paratha.
- Apply ghee/olive oil on it. Sprinkle some dry flour.
- If using kasuri methi, take some into hand and crush it over the rolled paratha using two palms.
- Now gently fold the paratha forming small pleats like a japanese fan. This takes bit of patience but it is totally worth it. And after a few parathas, you’ll get a hang of it and then it won’t take too much extra time.
- Once the whole paratha is pleated like a japanese fan, horizontally roll it to form a small round disc. [Next time I make it, I’ll take picture of it to add it here].
- Now roll that small disk in some dried flour and roll it into a paratha, keeping it thicker than the roti.
- Heat a griddle over medium heat.. Apply some ghee/oilive oil, put the paratha on the griddle and let it cook slightly on one side.
- Apply ghee/oil on top and flip the paratha. Let it cook for sometime until brown spots appear. Apply some more ghee/oil on top and flip again. Cook on the other side.
- The flaky lachchha paratha is ready. before serving, you may crust it using both the hands so as to enhance the layers.Serve it with Nargisi Kofta and enjoy!
- This recipe can easily be made vegan by using oil instead of ghee (clarified butter). I used olive oil.