Cabbage Koftas: Indian Vegetarian Party Dish!

Cabbage koftas by Purabi 0

Indian cabbage kofta

Cabbage koftas are a classic vegetarian alternative to Koftas or Indian meatballs. These vegetarian meatballs are very popular in India and are often a part of the wedding menu. Indian koftas are influenced more by the middle-Eastern koftas. If you haven’t tried Indian vegetarian koftas yet, you are missing out on something really unbeatable in taste! These are prepared with so much care and the spices are so well-balanced that these vegetarian koftas almost taste like meatballs (or sometimes, even better!). The kind of kofta displayed in this blog post is very famous in the Eastern India (West Bengal and Orissa) and has a subtle balance of flavours.
[This post is on Foodbuzz Top 9 today (19 Feb 2012). Thanks, dear readers, for your votes and thoughtfulness!]

Select a young, green and small cabbage for this dish. The cabbage needs some treatment. First, it has to be finely shredded. Then marinate the cabbage with ½ tsp salt for 10 minutes. Squeeze the cabbage to get rid of the cabbage juice as a result of the marination. Keep the well-squeezed cabbage aside and proceed for making the koftas now. The chickpea flour or garbanzo flour (also called Indian besan) is needed to bind the cabbage koftas together. Note: Please do not substitute chickpea flour with any other kind of flour. You will get this gluten-free flour easily in Indian/Pakistani/Sri Lankan/Bangladeshi stores in your country.


Golden-brown kofta balls

First step: Making the koftas

  • Finely shredded and marinated cabbage (small): 1
  • Purple onion paste: 1.5 tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1 tsp
  • Grated ginger: 1 tsp
  • Salt: one pinch
  • Cumin seeds: 1 pinch
  • Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp
  • Red chilli powder (optional): ½ tsp
  • Chickpea flour (besan): 8 Tbsp (more, if needed)
  • Baking powder: Two pinches
  • Oil for deep-frying

Add all the ingredients together and make round balls. The balls should feel wet, but you should be able to make round balls. This process can be messy but you’ll be amused by the taste of the dish! Do not let the balls become too soggy, otherwise the balls will open up when you start to deep-fry these. If soggy, add more chickpea flour to the batter. Make Ping-Pong-ball-sized koftas and deep-fry in oil on low to medium heat. Never fry the balls in high heat, otherwise the outer surface will be cooked and the inside would be soggy and under-cooked.

whole spice1

The right amount of each spice in a curry is a family secret in most Indian homes. This special kofta masala is my mother-in-law’s secret recipe, which works wonders not only in Indian kofta curries, but in a variety of curries as well.

ground spices1

Special kofta masala for that special flavour!

Second step: Special kofta masala

  • Dried red chilli (roughly torn): 1.5
  • Green cardamoms: 3
  • Cinnamon stick (1 inch): 2
  • Dried, medium-sized bay leaves (torn roughly): 2
  • Coriander seeds: ¾ tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Here is the secret recipe for the special roasted spice mix for koftas (bhuna masala or bhaja mashla): dry-roast the whole spices on a medium flame, taking care just to change the colour of the whole spices to light brown (and not to burn the spices even slightly). Allow these spices to cool a bit and grind to a very fine powder. Store the masala in an airtight container.

Cabbage koftas by Purabi 1

Final step: Making the kofta gravy

  • Potato (cubed and fried golden with ½ tsp salt): 1.5 cups
  • Cumin seeds: ¼ tsp
  • Dry bay leaf (big): 1
  • Onion paste: 2 tbsp
  • Coriander powder: 1.5 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 2 tsp
  • Red chilli powder: ¼ tsp
  • Ginger paste: 2 tsp
  • Medium-sized tomato (finely chopped): 1
  • Peas (fresh or frozen): ¼ cup
  • Water: 2 cups
  • Kofta masala (recipe above): 2 tsp
  • Indian clarified butter (ghee): 1.5 tsp
  • Salt: ¾ tsp (or according to taste)
  • Turmeric: ½ tsp
  • Green, slit chillies: 5
  • Oil: 2 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves (freshly chopped): 2 tbsp (for garnishing)

Heat oil till it starts smoking. Add the whole cumin seeds and bay leaf and immediately reduce the flame to medium. As soon as the cumin seeds just turn brownish, add the onion paste and sauté for 5 min. Add the coriander powder, cumin powder and the red chilli powder, mixed with a little water. Sauté for 5 min. Add the slit chillies, ginger paste, salt and turmeric powder after that. Fry on a medium heat, till the tomatoes are very soft. Add the fried potatoes and the peas and fry for five more minutes.

frying the peas

Now add 2 cups of water and the kofta masala (recipe above), stir and bring this to a boil. Add the ghee now. Simmer and carefully add the fried kofta balls. Boil for 10 more minutes. Switch off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.


Koftas absorb a lot of water. When you switch off the gas and let the koftas stand in the gravy for 20 min, the gravy thickens by itself and is almost absorbed into the koftas, making them softer and tastier.
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Cabbage Koftas by Purabi 2

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