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Pakistani Kofta Curry – The REAL Authentic Recipe

Pakistani Kofta Curry – The REAL Authentic Recipe

My Mother has always taken a simple approach towards cooking. She doesn’t  like over complicating things and her spice cabinet is limited to salt, red chilli powder, cumin and turmeric. If there’s a way to make cooking quicker, less messy and easier, she’ll always recommend it.

I’m another ball game. The use of different spices absolutely fascinates me. I love freshly grinding my own concoctions and if there is an authentic but much longer route to take in the kitchen, you bet I’ll take it. For daily curries, I lean towards my Mother’s way of cooking but I am not alien to using the longer routes on the days I have the time. 

I made this curry the day after my first anniversary for my husband as a bit of a special dinner, which is why I went the extra mile and ground my own spices.

It is extra labour, but it is a labour of love. The extra work paid off well, and the results were spectacularly delicious! This recipe is most definitely a keeper and I think you should put it on your to-cook list NOW! 

Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry

What makes this Kofta Curry so good?

Using a number of family resources, my own taste testing and just general desire to cook an out-of-the-ordinary dinner, I’ve developed this recipe and I think it has that ‘wow’ factor.

This is thanks to:

  • the freshly roasted and ground spices – the warm and earthy undertones of the cardamom and cinnamon
  • the vivid, fiery hue of the Kashmiri red chilli powder! Trust me, this little spice is a gem to add a pop of colour to any meal. It has a very mild, inoffensive flavour. In this particular recipe I’ve used 3tsp but believe me this curry is not too hot to handle!
  • the flavour of the meatballs! |t is wonderfully spiced – in fact, I could happily use the meatball mixture to make kabobs and keema (sans the gram flour)
  • The very authentic flavour. Trust me guys, this is the REAL DEAL, full on authentic Pakistani kofta experience!

Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry

What makes a kofta curry AUTHENTIC?

What is considered is totally up for debate. And that includes ‘how important is it REALLY for things to be authentic?’

Something certainly doesn’t need to be AUTHENTIC for it to be accepted or enjoyed. This recipe is an authentic-style recipe but there’s in no way another wrong with other recipes out there which don’t follow this style.

Here’s what make up the traditional Kofta Curry recipe:

  • The meatballs are formed with gram flour, often dry-toasted in a pan before using for extra oomph
  • The meatballs are spiced with a number of spices, but most notable poppy seeds (khashkhaas in Urdu). The poppy seeds are what give the kofta their distinctive flavour
  • The masala base of the curry is made from onions and yogurt – no tomatoes are used
  • Here’s something which may be new to you! Traditional Kofta recipes do not use fresh coriander as a garnishing, like most Pakistani curries are! 

Again, just putting it out there that there’s nothing wrong with following another style! But here I’ve just broken down what I’ve learnt to be the traditional way and that’s what I’m sharing!

How to make Kofta curry with lamb, mutton, beef etc

I made this kofta curry with chicken mince, but I am a lover of red meat therefore I think these would be absolutely glorious with lamb, mutton, goat or beef mince.

To alter this recipe for red meat, you’ll need to increase the cook time of the meatballs and increase the amount of water added. Check out the recipe notes for more exact information

How can Koftas be served?

Koftas go GREAT with both roti and rice. 

The day after making this, I added some boiled eggs to the curry and served it alongside some parathas. You can most certainly add anything else that you fancy, including potatoes, chickpeas etc. This also helps pad the curry out so it goes a longer way than it otherwise would have.

Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry

A few bonus tips to help make your Koftas amazing:

  • Perfecting the texture of the kofta is a bit of an art – you’re after meatballs that are succulent and juicy, soft but firm and ideally ones that hold their shape. The gram flour is what binds the meatballs together so it’s really important to get the ratio right. The quantity I’ve provided in the recipe is what works for me – but it’s important that you do that test taste and see how the texture is. If the kofta feels too grainy, you’ll need to add more meat. If the kofta feels hard and meaty, like a kabob, add in more gram flour
  • Also – over-mixing the raw mixture may also result in tough, hard meatballs. Once everything has been mixed in, refrain from mixing further
  • Oiling your hands will help you form a meatball that doesn’t have any cracks. Try to firmly pack the meatball as you roll it so there aren’t any holes on the inside 
  • You will need minced meat that has been minced through a machine. Avoid chunky haath ka keema for this recipe
  • The koftas will be rather delicate when they are cooking. You may have seen your Mother do this when she was cooking koftas – don’t stir the pot with a spoon, lift it up and swirl it around when you want to mix things! This will help avoid breakage
  • Please do not wash the minced meat. Not only do the USDA not recommend it for safety, it will become soggy and sad and will not bind nicely. I’m sorry, I know some people won’t like this tip but it’s really important. If you can’t bear to do this, please allow your mince to drain thoroughly before using. 

I hope you will enjoy this recipe just as much as me and my husband did!

I garnished it with poppy seeds to keep in line with tradition. However, I don’t see any reason why garnishing it with fresh coriander would in any way disrespect the meatballs. Go ahead… use the coriander. I won’t tell anyone.

Enjoy, with love x

Yield: 24 meatballs

Pakistani Kofta Curry

Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


For the meatballs

  • 750 grams minced chicken
  • 1.5 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder, or to taste
  • 0.5 cup gram (chickpea) flour
  • 2-3 tbsp water

For the curry

  • 1.5 medium onion
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 0.25 cup oil
  • 0.5 cup full fat yogurt
  • 3 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 0.25 tsp turmeric
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 small piece cinnamon
  • poppy seeds, for garnising


For the meatballs

  1. Transfer all these spices to a grinder and pulse till they become a fine powderTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  2. In a food processor, add your minced chicken alongside the spices you just powdered and all the other meatball ingredients. Pulse this till smooth and all the spices are mixed throughTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  3. Take a small amount of the chicken mixture and pan-fry it to check for spices. Taste and adjust accordingly. Please don't skip this step as you may find you want to make the meatballs more spicy or salty and once you fry the meatballs, you won't be able to make any changesTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  4. Once you've adjusted the seasonings to your liking, roll the chicken mixture into small/medium sized balls. I got 24 meatballs with my mixture. Try to avoid cracks in your meatballs - some are inevitable but try to minimise them as much as you can.Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  5. In a deep wok, fry the meatballs on high heat till they are cooked on the outside and are evenly brown. We aren't aiming to cook the meatballs through, we just want the meatballs to become fried to an extent that they hold their shapes. Keep the fried meatballs aside. (I forgot to take a picture of this step!)

For the curry

  1. Transfer the onions and garlic to a food processor and pulse till smoothTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  2. Return the onions and garlic to your pot. Now stir the yogurt in. Mix well, and then add all the curry spices. Saute this on high heat till you see the oil begin to separate from the body of the curryTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  3. Add approximately 3 cups of water. You can vary this amount depending on how much soup (shorba) you like, but I wouldn't recommend going below 2 cups. Bring to a boilTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  4. Add in all your meatballs. Turn the heat to a low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Once or twice during this time, pick up your pot (lid on) and swish the pot around so that the meatballs and shorba can be stirred without being touched. If we use a spoon to do this, we risk breaking the meatballsTraditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry
  5. In the most authentic of recipes, fresh coriander is not used for kofta curries. If you want to garnish your curry with coriander anyway, then go for it! Otherwise, you can garnish your meatballs with a sprinkling of poppy seeds or leave it the way it is. Enjoy!Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Chicken Kofta Curry


To adjust this recipe for lamb, mutton or beef, add 5 cups of water instead of 3 and cook for 50-60 minutes instead of 20.

If you don't have poppy seeds or don't wish to use them, simply omit them.

Enjoyed this recipe? For more Pakistani recipes on my blog, click here!

Chicken Kofta Curry - A Traditional and Authentic Pakistani Recipe

Also in kofta varieties – my Nargisi Kofta (Scotch egg curry) is a winner too!


Thursday 15th of April 2021

I really liked this recipe Thanks!!!

I did not have poppy seeds and am allergic to coriander so left that out I puréed fresh Roma tomatoes, 2; and 4 dry Kashmiri chilies No yogurt Used ground turkey breast Was delicious and will make it again


Sunday 28th of June 2020

Hi Could you share how many cups of sliced onions this would be? I think the onions we get are smaller here and so I think I didn’t use enough and my curry was too spicy and didn’t get the red color despite using Kashmiri chili.


Wednesday 11th of November 2020

This was such an amazing recipe! Thank you so much 🥰 I tweaked it a bit - added some pepper to the loft as for heat - don’t really eat the spicy red chilli: used just 1 tblsp of gram flour - more for the fragrance and used just a little less dahi. Luckily there is a little left over - so that’s the good news. But the recipe is an absolute keeper


Saturday 25th of July 2020

Terribly sorry Asvari, I wouldn't be able to gauge how many cups of onions this would be but all my onions tend to be medium sized

20 Pakistani Chicken Recipes You HAVE to Make! - Flour & Spice

Thursday 30th of April 2020

[…] Chicken Kofta Curry – Fatima Cooks […]

Karanbir Singh Chimni

Monday 19th of November 2018

loved the narrative - you are such a fabulous story teller!! cooking today after a long time spurred by your write up!! are you on facebook by any chance?

Sohaib Afridi

Wednesday 21st of February 2018

Great Its Great

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