“But what is in this? It smells… weird,” says husband of a few months.
“What do you mean, weird?” And suddenly wondering whether I’ve put in peri-peri instead of tomato paste or something equally horrendous, I bend over and smell it. Smells good. Great, in fact. Pick up a spoon and try a little. It tastes even better than it smells.
Turn back to husband. “It’s simply superb. Are you sickening for something, by any chance?” and I solicitously take his temperature. Purrfect 98.4C.
Ask him to try a litle more but he doesn’t. Makes a face, in fact! Humpphh… too bad… I’ve spent much time and effort on creating this kofte ki subzi and I have NO intention of letting it go to waste… nor of making something else! So I feast on pulao and koftas while hubby makes do with a pickle! Am still puzzled about what he found wrong with it because the more of it I polish off, the more I like it!
That too because he’s told me earlier that koftas are one of his favourite “restaurant” foods. My koftas are pretty good – after all, I’ve eaten plenty of them at my friend Priya’s place and if a Kayasth household cannot turn out the best koftas… then… I’m a monkey’s aunt! It’s a different matter that I actually am – aunt ot many monkeys 😉 But we’re not discussing nephews and nieces here, only koftas!
The penny drops a few days later when we sit down to dine at a restaurant and husband dear orders his favourite food. This time, I’m paying attention and hear him tell the waiter, “Malai kofta bina lasan (or lassoong as he likes to pronounce it!).” Malai kofta without garlic!
“But how can they make it without garlic?” I ask.
“You see – they will”, he assures me confidently.
I’m sceptical, but willing to wait and see – after all, this is Madras and maybe they can turn out malai koftas without garlic. I don’t even see why anyone would want to eat them like that!
The waiter reassures my husband – yes, sir, yes sir, three bags full – stuff.
And comes back some twenty minutes later with our order – peas pulao and malai kofta. I get a whiff of the garlic as I serve myself and more than a whiff as I dig into it! Hubby happily tucks into it and polishes off the dish and orders seconds!
“But if you dislike garlic so much, how can you eat this? It’s full of garlic!” I ask.
“Oh, no, didn’t you hear me order and the waiter say yes?” – Hubby…
Then the penny drops, when I was making koftas earlier, the peeled pods of garlic – some 3-4 of them – were lying on the kitchen counter in plain sight – so he KNEW there was garlic in the curry and therefore all the nakhras! Here, the waiter (whom we’ve never seen in our lives and probably never will again!) assures him that there is no garlic and he buys it!
Philip Kotler’s marketing lessons all begin to make sense! It’s all about how you sell it – the customer will buy anything!
Also that there is no limit to how much wool the customer is willing to pull over his/her own eyes! On several other occasions, at Chinese restaurants, hubby finishes off the little bowls of sweet chili-garlic sauce and keeps asking for more. The obvious question from the family has to be answered – about garlic. “Oh, no, there is no garlic in this,” he replies quite blithely!
Ah well… it’s always been useful anyway – he’s eaten and enjoyed spaghetti with loads of garlic and been none the wiser for it!
Here’s the low fat kofta that we make today…
VEGETABLE KOFTA WITH NO GARLIC (wink, wink!):
FOR THE KOFTAS
- Besan/gram flour – 2 tbsp
- Boiled peas – mashed slightly – 1/4 cu
- Boiled, grated potatoes- 2 small or 1 large
- Paneer/cottage cheese – grated – 3 tbsp
- Kasuti methi – 1 tsp
- Cumin/jeera powder – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp
- Amchur/dry mango powder – 1/4 tsp
- Minced green chilies – 2
- Breadcrumbs or gulab jamun mix – 2 tbsp
- Fresh coriander – chopped 2 tbsp
- Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Mix everything together except the gulab jamun mix (if using). Let it rest for about ten minutes.
Then add the breadcrumbs OR gulab jamun mix and mix together till it just holds together and is reasonably firm and not watery.
Using the paniyaram pan, make small balls of the mixture and fry pouring a few drops of oil into the bottom of each pan.
Cover and cook till the bottom is golden brown. Turn over with a skewer and cook, uncovered till the other side is also done. Set aside the koftas.
FOR THE GRAVY
- Onions – 2 medium
- Garlic (keep it quiet!) – 2 flakes
- Ginger – 1/2″ piece
- Cashewnuts – 6-7
Grind these together to a fine paste.
- Tomatoes – 4 large
- Kasooti methi – 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Coriander powder/dhania – 1/2 tsp
- Minced green chilies – 2
- Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
- Tej patta/bay leaf – 1
- Cardamoms – 2
- Saunf/fennel seeds – optional – 1 large pinch
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Oil or ghee – 2 tbsp
- Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Grind together the tomatoes, kasooti methi and cardamoms to a smooth paste.
Heat the oil or ghee in a pan and caramelise the sugar in it.
Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaf, minced green chilies and stir for a few seconds.
Add the ground onion paste and fry till the raw smell of onion is gone. Add the tomato paste and the powders and cook for about ten to twelve minutes till the gravy is smelling quite irresistable!
Add the koftas and simmer for a few minutes more.
Switch off and garnish with cream and coriander if you’re feeling thin and a ladleful of milk if you’re feeling un-thin! Serve with plain white basmati rice and/or paranthas.