Indian Summer Nights

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, the smell of cinnamon, cardamom and cumin filled the air, the beautiful aromas wafting above a hot bubbling pan. If I closed my eyes, it was as though I had been transported to India.

And all of a sudden Dad walks in and says “Hey, it smells like curry – it stinks!” I roll my eyes and continue to stir as if this were a regular occurrence.

At the weekend, I had one of those days where I just wanted to cook a good meal for my family. Today, I felt like Indian. Mum had recently bought a book called The Food of India: A Journey for Food Lovers by Priya Wickramasinghe and Carol Selva Rajah. This is such a beautiful book; the photography is exquisite – crisp clear, mouth-watering pictures; and it contains very detailed information about Indian cuisine (a testament to the high-expertise of the authors).

I chose to make Kofta in Tomato and Yoghurt Sauce. This dish is quite versatile in that it has various ways in which it can be prepared. In this case, this was the Northern Indian version.The end result is delicious. The kofta is tender and juicy. The sauce is rich in those classic complex flavours of Indian cuisine. And for those that can’t take heat, this is perfect as there is only a touch of spiciness in this dish.

My sister’s Indian fiancé joined us for dinner that night, and as it turns out, kofta is one of his favourite dishes his mum cooks for him. So I was a bit apprehensive serving him a dish that his mum had made many times over, but in the end he liked it (giggles).

See the recipe below:



1 onion
500g (1lb 2oz) minced (ground) lamb
2cm piece of ginger grated
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg

Tomato and Yoghurt Sauce

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 tablespoons oil
1 cinnamon stick
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon salt
200g tin chopped tomatoes
170ml thick plain yoghurt

Coriander leaves

1. Grate the onion, use a sieve to press out as much of the liquid as possible.
2. Put it in a bowl and combine with lamb, ginger, garlic, green chilli, salt and egg.
3. Mix thoroughly, then divide into equal portions and shape into a ball.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Alternatively, while sauce is being prepared, put in the freezer.
1. Dry-roast coriander and cumin seeds until aromatic in a pan.
2. Grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar.
3. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over low heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and onion and fry until golden.
4. Add the ground spices and salt and fry for 30 seconds.
5. Stir in tomato, remove from heat and add yoghurt. Slide in the meatballs once it starts to boil.
6. Simmer over a low heat for an hour. If it gets try, add ¼ cup of water.

Some tips and recommendations for you who want to try this:
• The recipe uses lamb, however, I used beef as some members of my family don’t like lamb, and this works just as good.
• Although the sauce does dry out ever so slightly in the cooking process, I recommend to leave it as is. I feel that the water weakens the flavour a bit.

Roll the mixture into equal portioned balls

When dry-roasted, the smell is to die for.

Flipping through the book, there was a section on accompaniments and the first thing that caught my eye was the mango chutney. The end result is stunning and very easy to make. See the recipe below:

1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 kg ripe mango flesh, roughly chopped
375 clear vinegar
230g sugar (superfine)

1. Heat oil in heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and cook for an hour or until the mango is think and pulpy, like jam. Add salt and/or more chilli to taste.
3. Pour leftover chutney into sterilised jars. Seal the jars and allow to cool. Store in the fridge after opening.

Tips and recommendations:
• 1kg of mango flesh works out to be 2 mangoes (we bought a whole box full of gorgeous mangoes at Flemington Markets for just $10!).
• I found that the chutney turned out to be very sweet. You might want to reduce the amount of sugar just a smidgeon or add some salt in the end.
• Apple cidar vinegar works just as good.
• If you don’t have chilli powder, you can use chilli flakes.


Mango chutney before the cooking.

There you have it. I was quite impressed with what I could achieve making these two dishes as I had never cooked anything like them both before. I was a bit critical of pairing the sweetness of the mango chutney with the kofta as I felt it overrode the flavour of the kofta. Best to serve the chutney with naan bread or an Indian appetiser like samosas. Nevertheless, it was enjoyed by all at the table, and for one thing, dad wasn’t complaining about the smell in the end.

The end product - serve with Basmati rice

To view my previous posts about Indian food click here and here.


4 thoughts on “Indian Summer Nights

    • I would say anyone who hasn’t been exposed to spicy food wouldn’t mind this. Because I used de-seeded green chillies, it’s actually very mild. Also, with the chutney, you don’t have to add any chilli at all. Just use any amount of chilli that works for you. =)

  1. The Indian meal looks delicious!And I just love mango chutney…. u know in many indian restaurants, they serve the mango chutney with Pappad as a condiment and it’s amazing!!

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