Lately snow days have been taking over our social and professional calendars. Among the work-at-home, couch, and pajama dress code, these days are the perfect time to cook up some cozy meals. We can’t forecast the weather but we can take cues from our meteorologists and prepare for some indoor fun. With a bit of planning we are in the driver’s seat and able to cook up our own storm!
The cold weather is perfect for soups, slow cooker meals and, for me, Indian food! One recipe I discovered last year and have made on several occasions, including the latest snowstorm, is from a book called Isa Does It. I have had my share of Indian food and I will vouch for Isa and tell you that her recipe for Malai Kofta is restaurant quality and oh so satisfying. These Indian-style ‘dumplings’ are loaded with veggies, nuts, spices and other plant-based ingredients; served with a creamy cashew sauce and brown basmati rice, each bite will bring you pure bliss!
NOTE: I tend to double the amount of koftas as they are just as good leftover and make for a great lunch served over greens.
½ can chickpeas, rinsed and drained, about ¾ cup
½ cup slivered or sliced almonds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
8 ounces zucchini, shredded (I use the large holes on the box grater)
⅓ cup chopped cilantro
1 ½ tablespoons minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
For the Sauce:
1 cup cashews (soaked in water at least 2 hours; I soak overnight)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, ﬁnely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 14 ounce can lite coconut milk
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas
Prepare the Kofta Mixture:
In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas until they are mushy but not pureed.
Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat. Toast the almonds for about 5-7 minutes, tossing frequently, until they are golden and browned in some spots. Transfer immediately to the mashed chickpea bowl. Next, toast the cumin seeds in the same pan for 3 minutes or so, until fragrant and a shade or two darker. Transfer those to the bowl, as well.
Add the zucchini, cilantro, ginger, garlic, salt, and black pepper to the chickpea bowl and mix well.
Add the breadcrumbs and use your hands to mix and mush until it holds together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the Sauce:
Drain the cashews and add them to a blender with the 2 cups broth. Blend until very smooth. This is called “cashew cream” and is often used in vegan recipes to make things taste super yummy and rich! It may take 1 — 5 minutes to blend this smooth so give the blender a break every now and then.
Heat a 4 quart pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute’ the onion in the oil for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook just until fragrant, 15 seconds or so. Add the curry powder, garam masala, and cumin and toss for a minute or so, just to toast the spices a bit.
Add the coconut milk, tomato paste, blended cashews, and salt. Bring to a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes or so. It should thicken up nicely. Add the peas and spinach and allow them to warm through. Taste for seasonings, then turn oﬀ the heat and cover until ready to serve.
Cook the Kofta:
Line the counter with parchment paper to keep the formed kofta from sticking. Scoop up a scant ¼ cup of the mixture and roll between your hands to pack it well and roll into football shapes. Set on the parchment and continue to form balls — should make about 12.
Heat a large cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium heat. Add some coconut oil and make sure it coats the bottom of the pan. Now add the kofta balls, rolling each one around in the pan when you add it, making sure to coat all sides. Use a little extra oil, if needed.
Fry them for about 7 minutes, rolling them around in the pan to get them browned on all sides. They don’t have to be uniformly browned. Do your best and be careful because they may start to fall apart. Once browned, turn oﬀ the heat.
Scoop some rice onto each plate, place 3 koftas on top of the rice, and cover with sauce. Garnish with more chopped cilantro, if you like, and serve.