I actually made these carrot and red lentil koftas aaages ago (my Instagram picture serves as proof – I wonder whether Instagram has ever been used as evidence in court?), but I’ve only just got around to sharing them. Sorry if you were waiting for the recipe!
Koftas are usually balls of meat, but here I’ve made a lentil version (the whole ‘vegetarian’ thing, and all), and let me tell you, you won’t miss the meat! These little koftas are so hearty and filling, and the dense lentil mixture is just as satisfying as a meaty version could ever be.
Heaps of countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Southern Asia have their own version of the kofta, but since Indian food is so amazing for veggies, I decided to serve mine Indian-style, with curry sauce. I’ll admit, I didn’t make my own curry sauce this time, I used one from Just Ingredients, who I’ve told you about before. But if you’d prefer to make your own, this dopiaza sauce was a total winner, and would go perfectly with these lentil koftas!
These little lentil koftas are really easy to make. You half-cook the red lentils with the carrot, then give everything a good whizz in a food processor, and you’re done. The mixture looks a bit like a big ball of dough…
… but once you dollop it into a pan with a bit of oil, and the koftas begin to crisp up, any reservations you may have will disappear. You don’t need to be too precious with your koftas – don’t worry about what shape they are, just spoon the mixture into the pan and see what happens. I quite like the fact that they all look a bit different!
The fact that the red lentils are only part-cooked means they keep their shape and have a great texture, rather than turning into mush like they do if you cook them for too long. These koftas are soft inside, and beautifully crispy on the edges. I also love the little fleks of red and green that the chilli and coriander give!
When you add these little lentil koftas to some curry sauce, they hold their shape – but personally I enjoyed breaking them down a bit, and letting them crumble into the sauce. So yummy.
If you don’t have any of these little silver Indian-style dishes, by the way, you should get some! They make even a bog-standard curry feel special and authentic (not that this is a bog-standard curry! But you know what I mean). I think from now on my Friday night take away will be eaten this way, as opposed to being scoffed straight out of the tub on the sofa.
(we’ll see how long that lasts)
Carrot and red lentil koftas
- 1 medium carrot finely diced or grated
- 200 g dried red lentils ~1 cup
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 small red chilli finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander cilantro, chopped
- Black pepper
- 4 tbsp oil for frying
- Add the diced / grated carrot to a saucepan with the red lentils, and add plenty of water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the lentils are about half cooked (they should be soft enough to eat, but still with a bit of bite, and still holding their shape).
- Drain the carrot and lentil mixture, and transfer it to a food processor. Blitz until a paste is formed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and add the remaining ingredients (except the oil). Mix well.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, and add dollops of the lentil mixture (don't worry about shape). Don't overcrowd the pan - you may need to do a couple of batches. Cook the koftas for a few minutes, until the underside is golden brown and crispy, then gently turn each kofta over, and repeat. Continue to turn until they are golden brown on all sides.
- Serve with curry sauce and more fresh coriander.