Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta with Coconut Fenugreek Sauce

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta with Coconut Fenugreek Sauce

Served all the way from the Middle East through India to central Asia, there are as many versions of koftas as there are tastes and preferences. Although originally made from ground meat, there are countless vegetarian versions of these little "meatballs" to be found too, many made with cooked beans, potatoes or paneer cheese instead of meat, but always with herbs and spices.

I've used chickpeas, potatoes and paneer cheese to make Indian-style vegetarian koftas in the past, but this time I've used whole black urad beans, also known as black gram. These beans have a creamy texture and mild flavor when cooked that make it a wonderful vehicle for spices and seasonings, but must be soaked overnight to ensure the little jewels cook through. In addition to the black urad beans and an array of hot spices, I've added quinoa to give these koftas added texture as well as nourishment.

Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta

In India, koftas are usually served in a creamy sauce, and for these urad bean and quinoa koftas I made a sauce that is not only creamy but fragrant with coconut milk, tomatoes, spices and seeds and dried fenugreek leaves. You will likely be eager to use this sauce for many other dishes, including meatballs themselves if you happen not to be a vegetarian. If you wish only to make the kofta, you could serve them as filling appetizers with your favourite chutneys and sauces.

Dried fenugreek leaves — also known as methi — have a slightly sweet nutty flavor that is reminescent of maple syrup but more bitter — in fact, they're a common ingredient in artificial maple syrups. On their own, dried fenugreek leaves are bitter and not exactly pleasant but when cooked with aromatic seeds and spices, they introduce a unique but subtle sweet and bitter taste to cream sauces, a taste that is distinctive of the very best creamy curries in Indian home cooking but one that is very hard to find in restaurant sauces. I always have dried fenugreek leaves on hand, as well as the seeds and powder, and very often crumble a few leaves into my Indian dishes.

Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta with Coconut Fenugreek Sauce

You can find black urad beans and dried fenugreek leaves in any Indian grocer or online. Fresh fenugreek leaves are treat and if you happen to live near an Asian or Indian grocer, you will likely be able to obtain these as well to in incorporate into your dishes.

Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta with Coconut Fenugreek SauceUrad Bean and Quinoa Kofta with Coconut Fenugreek Sauce
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 25, 2019

Baked spiced bean and quinoa balls served in a creamy and fragrant coconut and fenugreek sauce

Preparation: 25 to 30 minutes
Cooking time: 50 to 60 minutes

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1 cup dried black gram (whole urad beans)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (1 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1 fresh green or red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • chickpea flour (besan) or bread crumbs as needed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
  • 14 oz (400 mL) can diced tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 14 oz (400 mL) can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • Rinse the black gram and soak for 6 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Separately, soak the quinoa in 1 cup of water for 6 hours or overnight.

  • Drain the black gram and rinse. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are soft — about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

  • Whisk together the ground flax seed and water and let sit for about 10 minutes.

  • In a food processor, combine the black gram, quinoa, flax seed and water mixture, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder, asafetida if using, chili, tomato paste, olive oil and salt. Pulse a few times to mix well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir. If the mixture seems too runny to shape, stir in a bit of chickpea flour or bread crumbs. Cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 20 to 30 minutes or until ready to bake.

  • To bake the koftas, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat an oven to 400°F. Shape the black gram and quinoa mixture into small 1 1/2 inch round balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes until the kofta are slightly browned.

  • To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, shallot and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes to soften the shallot. Add the ginger and chili and stir for another minute. Stir in the ground spices. Fry until the spices are fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds, and then add the fenugreek leaves, tomatoes, coconut milk and sugar to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Stir in the salt and lime juice.

  • To serve, stir the baked koftas into the sauce, and serve over hot fresh cooked basmati rice. Alternately, scoop some of the warmed sauce into bowls and top each with a few koftas. Serve with Indian flat breads, such as quick and easy rice dosa, to scoop up the extra sauce.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Urad Bean and Quinoa Kofta

Other kofta recipes to try from Lisa's Kitchen:
Spicy Baked Chickpea Koftas
Mali Kofta (Potato and Paneer Kofta in a Rich Tomato Cream Sauce)
Chickpea Potato Koftas with Ricotta Cheese
Baked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and Harissa

On the top of the reading stack: BOSH!: Simple Recipes * Amazing Food * All Plants

Audio accompaniment: Sonic Being by Lingua Lustra

1 comment:

Juhi said...

this I have to try. I'm trying to have quinoa on the menu once at least every weeknight! will tell you how we enjoy this!