Cast Iron

Artichoke 'Kofta' in a Creamy Tomato Makhani Sauce

May  7, 2011
Author Notes

During the course of reading through Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's latest magnum opus 'How to cook Indian', I came across a couple of north Indian recipes that appeared to completely omit a crucial ingredient, viz 'garam masala'.
In one of the recipes, The gravy was a rich indulgent makhani (buttery), which as the name suggests (in hindi), is made with a lot of butter & cream. what was interesting about this dish is that there was no 'garam masala' (the mandatory spice blend in almost all North Indian dishes) at all... instead in its place, just cardamom & mace. When I asked Chef Kapoor about this at a book signing event a month ago, his simple reply was.. 'I was just trying out something new & it worked great!' which is absolutely in line with this foodie passion of mine.
Taking this approach of Chef Kapoor, I took his gravy recipe one step further and paired it with a 'new' vegetable, another wonderful candidate for Indian food, the baby artichoke. the artichoke is incorporated in a kofta (meatball, only in this case its vegetarian) - Panfusine —Panfusine

Test Kitchen Notes

What an incredible fusion of tastes and textures. The spicing is expert -- I was afraid it would be very spicy but it was just the perfect amount of heat. The Kofta are beautifully spiced and the ricotta and the baby artichoke work beautifully together. (I had to add an additional tablespoon of garbanzo flour for the Kofta to hold together in the oil after the first one fell apart.) The Makhani sauce is so smooth and so creamy and wonderfully satisfying -- it goes perfectly with the Kofta. This recipe is a wonderful way to utilize baby artichokes. Delicious. I’d call it comfort food at its best. - sdebrango

  • Serves 4
  • Creamy 'Makhani' Sauce
  • 1 Large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup broken cashew nuts
  • 1-2 teaspoons red chilli or cayenne pepper powder (adjust as per personal taste)
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-5 pods cardamom
  • 1/2 blade mace ( the orange colored outer frill on a nutmeg)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half & half or light cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons lightly toasted 'kasoori' methi' (dessicated fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Artichoke Kofta (meatballs)
  • 7-8 fresh baby artichokes (to yield about 1/2 a cup of finely chopped prepared artichoke)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 scallion finely chopped (light green & white parts)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin powder
  • 1-2 deseeded minced green chilli
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon besan (garbanzo bean flour)
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying
In This Recipe
  1. Creamy 'Makhani' Sauce
  2. Combine the onion, chili powder & cashew nuts and grind to a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the oil & ghee in a frying pan & add the cardamom & mace, Saute till fragrant. Add the garlic & saute for ~ 1 minute.
  4. Add the onion/ cashew paste & saute till the paste emits a fragrant aroma & the raw onion smell has disappeared.
  5. Add the tomatoes & salt, cover & cook on a medium flame till cooked. Add 1/2 cup water if the mix appears dry. You may blend this paste in a food processor & strain before moving to the next step if you prefer a smooth textured gravy.
  6. Lower the heat, add the unsalted butter to the tomato gravy, stirring well to evenly combine the ingredients. and let the flavors combine under a closed lid.
  7. Add the toasted kasoori methi & honey. Combine & cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Finish by adding the half & half or light cream, cook briefly for ~ 2 minutes. Take off the heat & set aside.
  1. Artichoke Kofta (meatballs)
  2. Using a small paring knife, trim off the leathery outer leaves, exposing the closed part of the baby artichoke. There really is no choke within these so you do not need to scoop out the center.
  3. Cut off the top half of the artichoke retaining only the pale yellow base.
  4. Dice this soft edible part of the artichoke and drop into acidulated water (water with the juice of 1 lemon added) Prior to combining with the other ingredients for the kofta, remove the water & mince into small bits. (use 1/2 a cup of this for the kofta recipe)
  5. Combine all the ingredients to form a thick mixture. using a cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), roll into a ball & flatten into discs.
  6. Heat oil in a cast iron pan or wok. When it gets hot, deep fry the koftas in batches on medium heat till golden brown on both sides (~ 2 minutes per side). Remove with a spider skimmer or slotted spoon & place on paper towels.
  7. Add the koftas to the warm makhni gravy & gently immerse completely in the gravy.
  8. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro & a dash of cream.
  9. Serving suggestion: Serve warm with Plain Basmati rice.

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A biomedical engineer/ neuroscientist by training, currently a mommy blogger on a quest for all things food - Indian Palate, Global perspective!