In these straitening times, I decided to increase my repertoire of dishes based around mince, using Beverley Pepper’s Potluck Cookery: Original Cooking with what you have on hand in the Cupboard or Refrigerator (Faber and Faber, 1955). The recipes are grouped around specific leftovers e.g. roast pork or boiled potatoes. There is even a section called ‘Nothing in the house but…’ for when the retail value of the contents of your fridge and cupboards is about 60p. The book belonged to my great-aunt who travelled widely and loved to cook and eat out. The recipes are notable for their generous amounts of seasoning compared to others from this era – Potluck Cookery was first published in 1955.
The recipe which caught my attention was Kofta Curry (because WTF?!**).
LEFTOVER: *COOKED MEAT
put through the food chopper, at least 2 cups.
Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
Grated onion, 2 tablespoons
Mixed herbs, 1/ 2 teaspoon
Bread crumbs, 4 tablespoons
Lightly beaten egg, 1
Butter or margarine or fat, 3/4 tablespoon
Chilli powder, pinch
Turmeric (optional), pinch
Minced garlic, 1/4 tablespoon
Water, 1 tablespoon
Bouillon or hot water, 1 cup
Regrind meat with salt, pepper, grated onion, mixed herbs, and 1 tablespoon bread crumbs. Bind with egg. Shape into walnut-sized balls and roll in remaining bread crumbs. Melt fat or butter in hot skillet. Add chilli powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger and 1 tablespoon water. Cook until slightly brown. Add meatballs and stir until evenly browned. Cover with buillon or water and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
SUGGESTED: Serve with boiled rice, of course – and a salad of sliced apples, oranges, onions marinated in French Dressing (No. 226 or 227) – and rye bread.
*Substitute: Fish or chicken.
- I quartered the recipe as I was only cooking for me. This produced 4 meatballs, all slightly larger than a walnut in shell.
- I used lamb mince which I browned for the purpose of this dish. I measured out 1 cup of mince, imagining (correctly) that it would reduce by half when it had been browned due to loss of moisture.
- ‘Put through the food chopper’ translates into ‘After browning the mince, I broke it into smaller pieces with a fork’.
- I used a pinch of fresh chopped rosemary and margoram for the herbs and hot water and 1/8 chicken stock cube for bouillon.
- I omitted the turmeric as I didn’t have any.
- ‘Shape into balls’ is a lie, they actually had to be squeezed hard (yes, I am smirking too) in order not to crumble.
- I cooked the meatballs in a heavy-bottomed saucepan as I don’t own a skillet.
- My tongue curls up at the thought of the suggested salad – I boiled white basmati rice with peas instead.
It all looked horrible in the pot, misshapen meatballs in pale stock with little bits flaking off them. It tasted great however, very garlicky. The 45 minute cooking time is necessary for the stock to reduce sufficiently (an hour would have been even better). The stock is a more than acceptable variant on the usual tomato sauce. The kofta themselves were light and savoury although I would probably add some sumac if I were cooking them again.
As to the title, the dish doesn’t conform to my limited understanding of either kofta or ‘curry’ but who knows the extent of the author’s knowledge of Asian and Middle Eastern food? I’m adding this dish to my recipe bank under the less problematic name of … meatballs in stock.
**Ah, OK, this:
Cooked by Elly