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Meatballs (Afghan Korme Kofta)

Afghan kofta (meatballs) is of course a main entree dish that is typically served with rice. While it can be any type of rice, I feel like it is best with plain white rice (Afghan challow). Please see my previous post for the rice recipe. The kofta can be made with ground lamb or beef meat. I make my koftas with beef. This recipe is easy to make, super juicy, and flavorful.
Afghan/Middle Eastern families love to hosts parties. Whether it be an impromptu or a well planned out party, we love having guests (mehman) over for lunch or dinner. Kofta is one of those dishes which is almost always served to guests. Growing up I watched my mom prepare huge meals for 30+ guests. She would make piles and piles of these koftas in preparation. She did it with no complaints, was so efficient, and she never made any lists or followed any recipes. I am not as good as my mom, but I like to believe that I have learned a thing or two from her and enjoy throwing parties and cooking for my guests. How about you, do you like hosting parties or attending them?

The Recipe & How To

PREPARATION 5-10 hours

COOK TIME ~60 minutes



For Meatballs (Kofta)

- 1 lbs ground beef

- 1 large onion, chopped in big pieces

- 2 green chilies, chopped

- 1 cup cilantro, chopped

- 1 tsp garlic paste

- 1 tsp salt, or to taste

- ½ tsp black pepper

- ½  tsp coriander powder

- ½  tsp cinnamon powder

- ½ tsp cumin, ground

For the Sauce (curry)

- 1 medium onion, chopped

- 2 medium tomatoes, pureed

- 2 Tbsp tomato paste

- 1 tsp garlic paste

- 1 tsp salt, or to taste

- ½ tsp black pepper

- ½ tsp turmeric powder 

- ½ coriander powder

- ½ cup Yellow split peas/chana daal, cooked 90%

- ½ cup oil


1. In a food processor add onion, cilantro, and green chilies. Process until finely chopped. Make sure that it does not become too watery.

2. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, the onion/cilantro/green chilli mixture, garlic paste, cinnamon powder, salt, coriander powder, ground cumin seeds, and black pepper. Knead well and use your hands to shape the mixture into kofta balls. I like to use an ice cream scoop or a spoon to scoop some of the meat out and make balls. I then press lightly down on the balls to form patties. You can make the size and shape to your preference.

3. Fry the patties until browned. Some people skip this step; however I like to fry the koftas.

4. Add 2 cups of water and ¼ tsp salt in a small pan and add split peas/chana daal. Cook 90%, you don’t want to fully cook as you will cook them with the meatballs.

5. Make the sauce or curry. In a heavy bottomed pan or skillet add oil over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until softened and golden brown. Add the tomato puree and tomato paste and cook for two minutes.

6. Add the rest of spices including: garlic paste, salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, and black pepper. Mix everything together. Cook for three minutes. Add 2 cups of water and cook over medium/low heat for 20 minutes. Be sure to check a couple of times to make sure the water doesn’t dry up.

7. Add 1 ½ cups of water and drop in the koftas. Cook for 30 minutes over low heat.

8. Add another cup of water and add the chana daal. You can adjust the thickness of the curry to your taste. Cook with the chana daal for 7 minutes.

9. Serve up, Delightful!

10. Tips: If you are using more meat be sure to adjust the other ingredients so that your meatballs are not dry (i.e. if you don’t use enough onion your meatballs will be dry). Make sure to check on the meatballs so that the bottom does not burn.

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