Dal Kofta

We have been fortunate, this past week, to have my awesome brother and his girl visiting us from Australia. We have had a fantastic time trekking to glaciers, visiting the snow and doing a lot of talking about food, cooking food and eating food!!

Both my brother and Rhi are fantastic cooks and always when we get together there is plenty of home cooking going on. We all love being in the kitchen together and although they aren’t vegetarian they love to eat veggie food.

Rhi has a wonderful Sri Lankan heritage and without a doubt a visit from these two means there is going to be a curry cook-up. I have been tossing around the idea of making veggie kofta for far too long now and figured this was the perfect opportunity.

I wanted to use lentils as the base and am so happy with the way this delicious vegetarian kofta recipe turned out and they are so simple to make. I used a base of split red lentils, adding cashew nuts for texture and added flavour and then spiced them up following Tim & Rhi’s traditional Lamb kofta recipe, with the addition of a sweet sultana filling.

The result is an amazingly tasty kofta that with the simple curry sauce was a real hit. The kofta could also be served as an appetizer with raita or chutney. Try this lentil vegetarian kofta for a delicious, healthy and spicy meal when entertaining or for a good night in. Thanks Tim & Rhi 🙂

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Dal Kofta

Preparation time: 80mins // Makes 25 Kofta Balls

  • 1½ cups split red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 125g (4½ oz) raw cashew nuts
  • 1 brown onion, finely mined
  • 1 cup wholegrain breadcrumbs
  • 3 tsp madras curry paste
  • 3 tbs sultanas (raisins) (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/356°F

Bring the broth to boil in a good sized saucepan, add the lentils and allow to gently simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are soft and liquid absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Using a food processor or by hand process/grind the cashew nuts, don’t process them too fine, keep a little chunkiness to them.

Combine the cooled lentils with the cashew nuts, minced onion, breadcrumbs and curry paste.

Combine well, the mixture should come together nicely forming a mass, add a little more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet or an egg (for non-vegan) or a little peanut oil if the mixture is too dry.

Roll a tablespoon of mixture into a ball, placing a sultana/raisin in the middle of each kofta ball (if using).

Place the rolled kofta balls on lightly greased baking trays (the kofta can be made ahead and refrigerated; this can help to hold them together). Place the kofta balls into the preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes, check after 20 minutes and turn the kofta balls over to allow to cook evenly.

Once lightly golden remove from the oven and set aside. Kofta balls can be served as an appetizer with raita or prepared with a curry sauce as below.

Dal Kofta Curry

Preparation time: 30mins // Serves 4

  • 25 Dal Kofta Balls (prepared as above)
  • 2 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup homemade roasted tomato paste (try this recipe) or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • fresh coriander


  • 3 cups natural yoghurt
  • ½ – 1 continental cucumber, grated
  • 1 lime
  • cracked black pepper

to serve

  • steamed basmati rice
  • raita (for non-vegans)
  • chutney or lime pickle

Heat the peanut oil in a good sized heavy-based frypan or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to heat in the pan for 30 seconds until they begin to pop. Add the powdered spices and fry over a low heat until they form a paste, add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for a further minute.

Add the stock and tomato puree and bring to a gentle simmer, allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until reduced slightly. Gently add the roasted kofta balls and allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes moving the kofta balls around carefully, they may begin to break-up a little but this adds to the texture and thickness of the curry sauce so don’t be too alarmed. Just be careful to cook them gently so they do stay mostly together.

Add the coconut milk a little at a time and continue to gently cook over a low heat. Add a good squeeze or two of lime juice and scatter with fresh torn coriander before serving.

To make the raita combine all ingredients together in a bowl adding cracked pepper to taste.

Serve with plenty of steamed basmati rice and raita (for non-vegans) or with chutney or lime pickle.

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