Fluffy spinach koftas in a creamy tomato curry

Fluffy spinach koftas in a creamy tomato curry

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

A kofta was traditionally a meatball, but the vegetarian masses of India (perhaps the most inventive cooks I’ve ever come across) soon started to make their own versions. These would have been made with paneer but I didn’t want to add the extra work, so I tried it with ricotta instead. The resulting koftas are light, fluffy and absolutely delicious with this full-bodied, lightly spiced sauce. Serve with pilaf or Naan.

For the curry


Quantity Ingredient
2 large tomatoes, quartered and deseeded
3 garlic cloves
10g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more to deep-fry
1 onion, sliced
40g cashew nuts
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder for heat
or 1/2 teaspoon paprika for colour
1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt, to taste
2-3 tablespoons double cream
or a knob butter, (optional)

For the koftas

Quantity Ingredient
200g spinach, well washed, I use whole leaf (not baby leaf) for more flavour
2 tablespoons cornflour
200g ricotta cheese


  1. Blend together the tomatoes, garlic and ginger to a fine paste, using a little water to help; I use a stick blender. Heat the 5 tbsp of oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the onion and cook until lightly browned. Add the tomato paste, cashew nuts, spices and salt. Cook over a moderate heat for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the paste releases oil. Blend until smooth with a stick blender, adding a little water, if necessary, to help. Pour back into the pan, add 500ml water, bring to a boil and simmer for eight to 10 minutes, until the curry is the consistency of single cream.
  2. While the curry is cooking, make the dumplings. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a little water and a good pinch of salt. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water and blend to a coarse puree with a stick blender. Add the cornflour and ricotta and stir well.
  3. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a wide sauté pan or a karahi. There should be enough to come 5cm up the sides of the sauté pan, or 10cm up the sides of a small karahi. Test the oil temperature by dropping in a small amount of the spinach mixture; it should sizzle immediately but not colour straight away. Drop heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture straight into the oil. You may need to do this in batches, so as not to crowd the pan. You should be able to make about 20. Carefully cook them, turning to ensure even cooking; they take about seven or eight minutes and will (unfortunately) turn brown, losing their vivid green colour. Remove and blot off excess oil on kitchen paper.
  4. Once the dumplings are all cooked, place them in the curry and cook for five minutes. Stir in the cream or butter (if using) and serve.
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