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Alu kofta
(Deep-fried vegetable balls in tomato sauce)

Alu koftas are the most popular type of kofta. They are easy to prepare and go well with any meal. After covering them with the tomato sauce, serve them promptly, otherwise they may absorb too much liquid and fall apart.

Preparation and cooking time: 45 min

15 medium-sized tomatoes
2 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 dried chillies, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
11/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoon salt
5 medium-sized potatoes, washed
1/2 medium-sized cauliflower, washed, trimmed, and separated into flowerets
1 cup (100 g) chick-pea flour
3 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
ghee or vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 cup (250 ml) plain yogurt (optional)

Start by making the tomato sauce. Drop the tomatoes into a pot of rapidly boiling water for 15 - 20 seconds. Drain them, and rinse them under cold water. Then peel and mash them. Heat the tablespoon of ghee or vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat and fry 1 teaspoon of the grated ginger, then the dried chillies. Follow with the ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric. Stirfry for a few seconds. Put the tomatoes into the pan, add half the salt, cover, and lower the heat. Cook slowly for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

While the sauce simmers, peel the potatoes and break up the cauliflower into large flowerets. Wash both vegetables thoroughly, then grate them through the large holes of a metal grater. Combine the grated vegetables, the chick-pea flour, 2 tablespoons of the chopped coriander leaves, and all the remaining spices in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly. The grated potatoes should give enough moisture to bind the ingredients together. Knead the mixture for 2 minutes, then form it into 20 - 30 small balls. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil until almost smoking, and drop in the vegetable balls. Deep-fry them for 4 - 5 minutes until they are uniformly goldenbrown and crisp. Then drain them.

If you use yogurt, stir it into the tomato sauce and allow the sauce to heat for 2 minutes. Put the kofta balls in a serving bowl and cover them with the hot sauce. Garnish with the remaining chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves. Serve with a rice or an Indian bread.