First of the Party Pics: Nargisi Kofta

Finally have a little time to go back and post our holiday party pics — these are nargisi kofta, aka Scotch eggs, made with quail eggs so they’re appetizer-sized. They were VERY popular, and I should’ve made at least twice as many — I’ll know for next time! If you actually manage to have any leftover, they also make a great day-after-party sandwich, on bread or naan with a little red MD sauce. 

Note that I was doing them in a hurry (never cook in a hurry if you can avoid it), so forgot to do the trick to center the yolks, and regretted it! This recipe gives you the sauce too, in case you want to curry them and serve them at dinner with rice or naan.

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Eggs in Meatballs / Scotch Eggs / Nargisi (Narcissus) Kofta
(2 hours, serves 6)

This elegant dish made its way down to Sri Lanka from India, where it was a favorite in the Mughal court. Known as Scotch Eggs in Europe, the British store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented this dish in 1738, but given how prevalent kofta are throughout South Asia and the Middle East, it seems more likely that the dish travelled from East to West, rather than the reverse. They take their name from the white-and-yellow varieties of narcissus flowers (a.k.a. daffodils).

Nargisi kofta lend themselves to different variations — you can use chicken eggs or adorable little quail eggs, you can use lamb or beef, you can gild them in saffron for a fancier presentation and a subtle added flavor, you can fry them and take them along whole on your picnic, or you can slice them and serve them in a curry sauce, rich with tomato, yogurt, and cilantro. All the options are good!

Meatballs:
14 quail eggs or 7 chicken eggs
1 lb twice-minced* lamb or beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder (or garam masala)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup water
3 TBL chickpea flour (may substitute regular flour)
oil for frying
1 tsp saffron powder for gilding (optional) (grind threads to make powder if needed)

Curry sauce:
2 TBL ghee or oil
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 – 1 tsp cayenne
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1/2 – 1 cup yogurt
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, to garnish

* Your butcher can twice-mince the meat for you, or you can do it at home in a food processor; I recommend chilling the bowl and blade first. Your goal is a fine, even mince, with the fat distributed well through the meat.

1. Boil 12 quail eggs (or 6 chicken eggs). (If you stir them constantly for the first five minutes of simmering, that will help center the yolks, making for a prettier presentation.) Let cool, then shell and set aside.

2. Combine meat in a saucepan with onion, garlic, ginger, salt, curry powder, turmeric, and water. Stir well and cook on medium, covered, until meat is well cooked, about 20-30 minutes. (If there is a large amount of oil, you may want to skim some off at this point.) Add flour and continue cooking until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool, and mix with your clean hand until very smooth.

3. Beat remaining egg(s) and mix in saffron. Mold meat mixture around hard-boiled eggs (I find that one meat-enclosed quail egg just fits into my small hand). Dip kofta in beaten egg and fry in hot oil until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Cut in half and serve hot — or reserve while you make sauce.

4. Sauté cumin, mustard, onions, ginger, and garlic in oil until onions are golden. Add curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, and stir for a minute. Then add tomatoes and salt, and cook on medium until well blended and sauce textured (about 15 minutes). Add yogurt to taste. Serve hot with sliced-in-half kofta, garnished with cilantro. Delicious with rice or bread.

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