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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kofta Challow

Yes, I know. It doesn't look like much, does it? But what you see, my friends, is one of the best dinners around. It's not the food's fault that I am still an amateur photographer who continues to find certain foods very challenging to show off. But trust me, this dish is so worth your attention.

For those of you that stop by here regularly, you've probably gotten sick of me raving on about Afghan cuisine. And - possibly - wondered if I was ever going to post this recipe. I think I've talked about it multiple times now. Well, here it is! And you should try it. Soon.

It's a pretty straight-forward dish. Kofta refers to a Middle Eastern meatball dish while the challow refers to the rice. So, what you're seeing is basically a meatball and rice dish with wonderful Middle Eastern seasoning and LOTS of onions (which is lovely because onions are so good for you!).

The meatballs contain a fair amount of onion and garlic. Therefore, you want them to be grated or processed into very small pieces otherwise your meatballs will just fall apart.

Here's what my onion/garlic mixture looked like after processing:

Mix together the remaining meatball ingredients in a bowl and then form 2" meatballs. These meatballs are pretty loose, so you'll have to be somewhat careful with them. I lined the pan with some foil so that I could get them up easily since I freeze them briefly before cooking. Chilling them before cooking helps to hold them together in the initial stages of cooking.

Look at all those onions! Yum! Saute until they are slightly browned.

Then push the onions toward the outside and start sauteing the meatballs in the middle. Again, the meatballs are quite fragile until they get cooked through a little bit, so turn them very carefully. Turn regularly to brown all sides. Once they are nicely browned, add the remaining ingredients to make the sauce. This is a good time to start the rice since the dish is about 20-30 minutes from being done.

Lastly, about 15 minutes before serving, add the cauliflower. Strictly speaking, the cauliflower is optional, but it is so wonderful with this dish that I would never consider making it without.

Kofta Challow
Yield: 2-4 servings
adapted from the recipe on Afghanistan Online

For the kofta:
1 lb ground meat (beef or lamb)
1 medium onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 whole egg
3 tsp ground coriander
1 TBS beef bouillon granules/powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Process the onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped, or grate onion on a box grater. Press the onion between your hands to press out some of the water. Combine onion, garlic, and meat in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and shape into 2" diameter meatballs. I use a #12 disher to size them. This recipe makes approximately 8 meatballs. Set meatballs onto a lined tray or plate and place in the freezer to firm up for 10-20 minutes.

For the sauce:
2-3 TBS vegetable oil
2 medium onions chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS beef bouillon granules/powder
2 tsp paprika
3 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 cups water
Half head of cauliflower, cut into pieces

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until they are slightly browned. Push the onions to the sides and add the meatballs. Brown the meatballs on all sides. Be gentle when turning them, until they are partially cooked, they are very fragile. When the meatballs are browned on all sides, mix the remaining sauce ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour into the skillet, mixing gently. Reduce heat and simmer meatballs in sauce for 10-15 minutes uncovered. Add the cauliflower and cover, cooking until tender, about 10-15 minutes more.

For the challow:
1 cup aromatic rice (Basmati or Jasmine)
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom

Bring water and spices to a boil. Add rice, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Begin rice while meatballs are simmering uncovered.


  1. This dish sounds sooo good. Comfort food is hard to capture on film :)

  2. That sounds absolutely fantastical!

  3. yum! Wish I was with you tonight!

  4. thanks! I posted this on my tumblr account and credited you as my source. What a very yummy dish :D


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