Nargisi Kofta

This dish comprises a hard-boiled egg coated with minced meat and then sliced into two halves. The perfect symmetry and the vivid contrast of colours, that can be achieved in its preparation is not possible with the other koftas. The yellow and white of the egg, the deep brown of the meat and the green of the sprinkled coriander leaves is indeed a visual delight. The taste of Nargisi Kofta however surpasses the highest expectations and goes a long way to make this a popular dish on Awadhi Dastarkhwan.

The name ‘Nargis’ is the Persian of a flower called Narcissus, that is quite elegant and beautiful often with white petals a yellow stamen. Another probable reference is to beautiful eyes of the beloved (though this may not be a direct translation, yet the word Nargis is often used to describe the beauty of a lady’s eyes, as a simile : ‘Nargisi Ankhein’), as the shape of these koftas denote after they are cut into two halves. Whatever it be, it sure is a reference to beauty.

It is also believed that a very popular British dish, ‘Scotch Eggs’ are inspired by this dish of nargisi kofta, where hard-boiled eggs are encased in a layer of spicy minced meat. This dish went from India to England in the late 1700s or the early 1800s and the very first written recipe of Scotch Eggs is credited to Mrs. Rundell, who mentioned it in her book, ‘A New System of Domestic Cookery’ edition of the year 1809.

Ingredients for cooking the mince meat

350g finely minced lean mutton (goat/lamb meat)
8 finely chopped cloves of garlic
15g finely chopped ginger
½ tsp red pepper powder
2 finely chopped green chilies
50g grated onions
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
150 ml water

Ingredients to be used after the mince is cooked

3 dessert spoonful gram flour
1tblsp yogurt
6 hard boiled eggs
1 egg yolk for mixing
1 egg for coating
½ tsp garam masala

Ghee for deep frying

Ingredients for the curry
80g ghee
30g finely chopped ginger
Green stalks of one spring onion
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red pepper powder
225g tomatoes
300ml water
115 g grated onions
8 cloves of garlic
1tsp salt or to taste
150g yogurt
2 finely chopped green chilies
½ tsp garam masala
1 tbl sp finely chopped coriander leaves

Method
  1. For cooking the mince: Heat the water and add finely – minced meat, finely- chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies, salt, red pepper and turmeric.
  2. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes, alternatively pressure cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and dry the excess liquid, add parched gram flour and cook for another 10 minutes till the mince is soft and dry.
  3. Knead or grind till it becomes slightly sticky; mix egg yolk, ½ tsp garam masala and 1 tsb yogurt and knead again for another 10 minutes.
  4. For the koftas: Peel the hard boiled eggs, divide the mince meat into six equal parts.
  5. Place one part on the palm and flatten it out with the finger tips of the other hand, place a hard- boiled egg brushed all over with a little water over its centre and gradually work the meat up till it fully encloses the egg. Treat the other remaining eggs in the similar manner.
  6. Heat the ghee to a smoking point in a deep frying pan, dip these balls in the beaten egg, carefully place them in the frying pan (so that none of the coating comes off) and deep fry till golden brown. After they are done, keep them aside in a plate.
  7. For the curry: Heat the ghee, add onions and garlic; cook till golden brown. Remove the onions, take the ghee off the fire and add red pepper, turmeric and salt. Heat the ghee again, stir and cook for a few seconds.
  8. Grind the fried onions and garlic, mix with the beaten yogurt (curd) and add to the ghee; cook for 10 minutes or till the yogurt (curd) dries up.
  9. Continue frying for another 10 minutes by adding a little water. Blanch, peel and roughly-cut the tomatoes and add them to the gravy.
  10. Cook till they are dissolved in the gravy and the masala separates from the ghee.
  11. Add the finely-cut ginger and green stalks of 1 spring onion and 300ml water and simmer on slow fire for about 10 minutes.
  12. Assembling & Finishing: When the gravy is ready, pour it into a dish. Cut the koftas carefully into two halves and arrange them on the gravy.
  13. Cover and leave the dish in a slow oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander leaves. This dish will go well with Khamiri Roti, Naan or even some rice dish.


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