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Dal Kofta

September 14, 2010

Dal Kofta

We have been fortunate, this past week, to have my awesome brother and his girl visiting us from Australia. We have had a fantastic time trekking to glaciers, visiting the snow and doing a lot of talking about food, cooking food and eating food!!

Both my brother and Rhi are fantastic cooks and always when we get together there is plenty of home cooking going on. We all love being in the kitchen together and although they aren’t vegetarian they love to eat veggie food.

Rhi has a wonderful Sri Lankan heritage and without a doubt a visit from these two means there is going to be a curry cook-up. I have been tossing around the idea of making veggie kofta for far too long now and figured this was the perfect opportunity.

I wanted to use lentils as the base and am so happy with the way this delicious vegetarian kofta recipe turned out and they are so simple to make. I used a base of split red lentils, adding cashew nuts for texture and added flavour and then spiced them up following Tim & Rhi’s traditional Lamb kofta recipe, with the addition of a sweet sultana filling.

The result is an amazingly tasty kofta that with the simple curry sauce was a real hit. The kofta could also be served as an appetizer with raita or chutney. Try this lentil vegetarian kofta for a delicious, healthy and spicy meal when entertaining or for a good night in. Thanks Tim & Rhi :)

Dal Kofta

Preparation time: 80mins // Makes 25 Kofta Balls

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  • 1½ cups split red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 125g (4½ oz) raw cashew nuts
  • 1 brown onion, finely mined
  • 1 cup wholegrain breadcrumbs
  • 3 tsp madras curry paste
  • 3 tbs sultanas (raisins) (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/356°F

Bring the broth to boil in a good sized saucepan, add the lentils and allow to gently simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are soft and liquid absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Using a food processor or by hand process/grind the cashew nuts, don’t process them too fine, keep a little chunkiness to them.

Combine the cooled lentils with the cashew nuts, minced onion, breadcrumbs and curry paste.

Combine well, the mixture should come together nicely forming a mass, add a little more breadcrumbs if the mixture is too wet or an egg (for non-vegan) or a little peanut oil if the mixture is too dry.

Roll a tablespoon of mixture into a ball, placing a sultana/raisin in the middle of each kofta ball (if using).

Place the rolled kofta balls on lightly greased baking trays (the kofta can be made ahead and refrigerated; this can help to hold them together). Place the kofta balls into the preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes, check after 20 minutes and turn the kofta balls over to allow to cook evenly.

Once lightly golden remove from the oven and set aside. Kofta balls can be served as an appetizer with raita or prepared with a curry sauce as below.

Dal Kofta

Dal Kofta Curry

Preparation time: 30mins // Serves 4

  • 25 Dal Kofta Balls (prepared as above)
  • 2 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup homemade roasted tomato paste (try this recipe) or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • fresh coriander


  • 3 cups natural yoghurt
  • ½ – 1 continental cucumber, grated
  • 1 lime
  • cracked black pepper

to serve

  • steamed basmati rice
  • raita (for non-vegans)
  • chutney or lime pickle

Heat the peanut oil in a good sized heavy-based frypan or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to heat in the pan for 30 seconds until they begin to pop. Add the powdered spices and fry over a low heat until they form a paste, add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for a further minute.

Add the stock and tomato puree and bring to a gentle simmer, allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until reduced slightly. Gently add the roasted kofta balls and allow to cook for a further 3-4 minutes moving the kofta balls around carefully, they may begin to break-up a little but this adds to the texture and thickness of the curry sauce so don’t be too alarmed. Just be careful to cook them gently so they do stay mostly together.

Add the coconut milk a little at a time and continue to gently cook over a low heat. Add a good squeeze or two of lime juice and scatter with fresh torn coriander before serving.

To make the raita combine all ingredients together in a bowl adding cracked pepper to taste.

Serve with plenty of steamed basmati rice and raita (for non-vegans) or with chutney or lime pickle.

Dal Kofta

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  • Naomi September 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    this looks soooo amazing! what a gorgeous, rich red with those bright pops of coriander. I can’t wait to try this with some vegan so yogurt! :)

  • Jennifer September 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I can almost taste how delicious this is from the pictures! I can’t wait to try this.

  • Heather @ Whisk Flip Stir September 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    This looks amazing. I adore Indian food. I have samosas on my itinerary but this looks better. : )

  • Sally - My Custard Pie September 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This is a lovely recipe which will hopefully please my vegetarian daughter and the rest of the family. We all like spice :)

    • Trudy (veggie num num) September 15, 2010 at 8:57 am

      Thanks for the great feecback and comments everyone, so glad you like the look of the Kofta :)

      Sally I’m sure this will please your vegetarian daughter and it’s a great dish to make for the whole family (especially if you like spice). I served it up to 3 non-veggies and they happily devoured it with looks of sweet happiness on their face! Thanks for dropping in!

      Hi deliciuex, this dish is perfect for an Indian craving and because the split lentils cook down there is really none of that nutty texture and taste you tend to get with other lentils, I’m sure he won’t even notice :)

      Heather thanks for dropping in! You could try this dish with brown lentils but it would take a certain amount of modification, brown lentils really retain their texture when cooked, where the split lentils go reasonably mushy, which worked well with the bread crumbs to make the kofta come together. They would turn out a little different but, I’m sure very tasty, you might need to add an egg or some flour to bring the kofta mixture together. If you give them a go be sure to let us know how it turns out.

  • delicieux September 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    This looks fantastic!! I haven’t had Indian food for a long time but have been craving some recently. I might see if I can convince my boyfriend to eat these (he’s adverse to anything that contains lentils) but I might see if I can sneak the fact that they have lentils past him!

  • heather September 15, 2010 at 3:28 am

    i know they’re not Indian, but i have a TON of regular brown lentils in the pantry. do you think i would be compromising taste and/or texture too much substituting those for the red lentils?

    thanks and cheers,


  • mangocheeks September 15, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I so miss eating this dish. The next time I go to my mama’s I’ll ask her. Or maybe I should give it a go.

    Thanks so much for reminding me of it.

  • Xiaolu September 15, 2010 at 7:27 am

    This is making my mouth water already…and climbing glaciers sounds like a lot of fun.

  • Jun September 16, 2010 at 3:12 am

    I have only had kofka once, ever. That was a month ago when we were away on holiday in Central Java. We absolutely love it! My mother is a vegetarian, and I will definitely try to cook this for her. I love the color of this dish.

  • Julia September 16, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I agree, the colour is beautiful and seems just perfect for fall slowly stepping in… It’s the perfect soul food dinner for a Friday night – I’ll try it tomorrow!

  • Asmita September 18, 2010 at 1:01 am

    I love Kofta and was happy to find this recipe. One of my guests has a coconut allergy. Is there something else I can use besides coconut milk in the curry? Would yogurt suffice or would it be too tart?

  • Trudy (veggie num num) September 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for dropping in Jun and Julia, hope you enjoy the kofta :)

    Hi Asmita happy you found us too! The kofta balls would also taste great in a tomato based sauce without any coconut milk at all, I would simply increase the tomato puree to 2-3 cups, maybe with a little more stock. If you liked you could always add a little plain thick natural yoghurt, at the end just before serving, to give it a creamy taste and consistency, it will be a little tart but I find that always works beautifully with the curry flavours. I know your guest will love this, it is impressive and so tasty and yet reasonably simple to prepare. Enjoy!

  • Asmita September 21, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Thank you for the advice! I used a little yogurt thinned with a bit of evaporated milk. It was a hit :)

  • Rochelle September 23, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    YUM! Can’t wait to try this one Truds! Rhiannon told me it was amazing. :)

  • Trudy (veggie num num) September 24, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Asmita thanks so much for dropping back in to let us know how the dish worked out! Great alternative to coconut milk! So glad it was a hit :)

    Yay! Rochelle!! Oh, hope you cook it up soon… enjoy!! xo

  • Marly September 27, 2010 at 5:07 am

    I have not been brave enough to try cooking Indian food at home, but I love Indian food and craving it lately. We have a little restaurant here in town and I feel so good when I go there because I know the owner is struggling. Maybe I could do both – go the restaurant and make this recipe. Can you have too much of this stuff? I think not! Thanks for your recipe!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) September 28, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Marly go for it, this recipe is quite simple and makes a lovely big delicious curry… and never, there is no such thing as too much curry :) enjoy!!

  • Katie October 4, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Most delicious thing I’ve EVER eaten! Thank you for rocking my world.

    Unfortunately, my kofta balls all fell apart. I think I might throw the whole ball mixture in the blender to help it stick together. Minor detail, so tasty!!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) October 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Woohoo Katie, happy to have rocked your world :) !! so sorry they fell apart though… Popping them in the fridge for a while before cooking can really help keep them together as will a free-range egg (if you’re not vegan) otherwise yep try the blender, it’s all trial and error and then hopefully success :) :) thanks so much for dropping in!!

  • Eva October 8, 2010 at 6:15 am

    This looks so amazing! I’m definitely going to have to make this asap. Homemade kofta are still something I have to try my hand at making.

  • Trudy (veggie num num) October 8, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Hi Eva! Homemade kofta are so good and pretty simple to prepare, hope you try the soon :)

  • Soma October 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

    This looks immensely good.

  • Paul & Manisha December 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    This is going to be Christmas dinner!

  • evo December 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Made this last night at it is so yummy. This is one of the easiest and most tasty Koftas I’ve made. I made up my own madras curry paste which is also easy to do and avoids the shop one. My kofta balls didn’t fall apart, but you do need to be gentle with your pan work once they have been added. Next time I will add de-seeded green chillis to the kofta balls for some extra bite! I’d also look at replacing the coconut cream with lite cream. The balls are so tasty we were eating them and dipping them in some dips we had in the fridge. Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe. Will become a staple in our house!

  • Trudy (veggie num num) January 20, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Thanks Soma :)

    Cheers for the fantastic feedback evo, it’s wonderful to hear how others have cooked and enjoyed the recipes… these kofta are a serious favourite around here too!! thanks again :):)

  • Trudy (veggie num num) January 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Yay Paul & Manisha!! Glad to hear it and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and Christmas dinner :)

  • James February 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’m a little confused about some of the ingredients. You say: “1 cup roasted tomato puree or 1 x tinned chopped tomatoes”. What do you mean by “1 x”? Also, I’m not familiar with “roasted tomato puree”. Is that tomato puree that I roast, or tomatoes that I roast and then puree? Finally, in the photograph featuring two isolated balls and some scattered lentils, what is the longish object at right, and what’s the red paste on it? Is it a spoon? A pestle? Is it something I should know about?
    Thanks for any help.

  • Trudy ~ Veggie num num February 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Hi James, sorry for the confusion over the tomato puree, I have amended the recipe to hopefully avoid any confusion for future readers too. For this recipe we used a homemade tomato puree very similar to the one we make for roasted tomato sauce check out the recipe if you would like to make your own or simply use 1 400g (14oz) tin of tomato puree or chopped tomatoes. The picture is indeed a spoon and on it is the curry paste, something I just used for a little bit of interest when styling the photo :) Hope this is helpful, if you have any further questions about this recipe or anything else you can contact me directly via the contact page!

  • Marieke February 9, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Fantastic! I am in love with this recipe, ooh-ing and ahh-ing after every bite I took. I made half the kofta recipe and still ended up with about 18 balls, and I used mild curry paste instead of madras (due to fridge availability). I prepared the balls a day before and the dinner came together within 20 minutes. I had enough for three meals, what a treat! This will be a go-to dish for me as well. Thank you!
    PS. do you reckon the kofta balls would freeze well?

  • Trudy ~ Veggie num num February 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Hi there Marieke! Cheers for the wonderful feedback and lovely comments, so happy to hear you loved the recipe :) I’ll be making it for Cam tomorrow night as his special birthday dinner, we absolutely love it here too!! Hmmm you could try freezing the un-cooked kofta balls but I’m really not sure how well they will defrost, I have a feeling they may go a little mushy and fall apart when you cook them. Might be worth trying with just a few to see how well they freeze first. Thanks again!!

  • Julia February 26, 2011 at 3:05 am

    This looks delicious and – even more important – IS delicious!! Thanks for sharing, I’ve cooked it twice in the last week :)))

  • Julia February 26, 2011 at 3:07 am

    Oh – and: I put the half amount of the baked balls into the freezer and they were perfect after I took them out! I just left them in a bowl for a couple of hours and them cooked them as described.

  • Ange March 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    These are amazing! I’ve made them not once, but twice in the last month and already have a craving for more!

  • Nina March 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    We just ate these, but we changed some major things, as you do. We used black lentils instead of red and simmered until soft, didn’t need bread crumbs, used a combination of almonds and cashews, used rogan josh paste instead of madras, baked a bit longer than the recipe said, and doubled all the spices in the sauce (after we started again ‘cos I burnt them).

    And it was yum!

  • Rochelle May 3, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks Truds,
    Tried this one cold night in Victoria with Hamish and we both loved it! This was the first time Hamish had tried lentils!
    Another vego meal we can both enjoy :)

  • Lesley Grant May 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    i made these the other night and we all raved about them. the roasted pepper and tomato sauce adds a lovely depth and sweetness that you simply would not get from a tin of tomatoes. Didn’t have the madras curry paste but used mussaman. what can i say delish delish delish. will be made again and again.

  • Tamara May 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I made this for dinner on Sunday night and wow, it was amazing! My fiance is not a vegetarian like me, so I am looking for vego meals that we can enjoy together, and boy does this tick all of the boxes. I have never seen his plate cleared so quickly. And the leftovers the next day for dinner re-heated beautifully and had even more flavour. I made your recipe for the roasted tomato sauce and it made a beautiful base for the sauce. I had some extra koftas which I didn’t add to the sauce but took to work to add to a wrap for lunch and they were delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it was just lovely : )

  • Francesca May 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    This is one of the best curries I’ve ever had. My friends absolutely loved it. Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing recipe!

  • Isidora June 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    I made it yesterday and was so happy! It’s one of the best meals I tasted, thank you for this recipe. But I didn’t make a curry sauce, I just put simple tomato sauce and it was delicious! Thump up!

  • Isidora June 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    p.s. sorry, i meant thumb. hehe.

  • Casey June 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Hi – these look amazing!
    I can’t eat nuts though – is there something you could recommend I replace the cashew nuts with as I really want to try this recipe out!

  • Melanie June 17, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I made this yesterday and it is such a yummy meal. Would be good for a dinner party as it is very satisfying and would be great for meat eaters as it is still very hearty/filling. Very impressive and simple meal to make. Could even be served with cous cous instead of rice.

  • Trudy ~ Veggie num num June 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Thanks for the wonderful feedback everyone, love to hear from you all and how much you are all enjoying this recipe 😀

    Casey you could leave the cashews out entirely, I simply added them for a little extra texture, this shouldn’t effect the flavour too much at all although you may need to add a little more breadcrumbs to bring the mixture together, enjoy!!

  • suzanne July 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    These where absolutely delicious! I added more sultanas to each kofta because I love the sweet and savoury combo. My picky meat-eating husband couldn’t get enough too.

  • Anthea August 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I made this recently and it was amazing! Thank you so much for posting this recipe online! I took pictures of my cooking process and posted them on my blog ( My final product wasn’t as golden as yours but I thoroughly enjoyed eating it :)

  • MissG September 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Came across this recipe by pure accident today, kofta balls are in the oven as we speak!! Both my non veg house mates are hanging around to try this new recipe. Smells incredible already! Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to try. Love your blog too :) cheers!

  • Radhika September 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Hi that is a great version of the kofta. It is not that uncommon to have vegetarian versions – here is one of my favourite recipes by renowned vegetarian chef, Kurma Das which would be a great alternative if anyone has nut or wheat allergies – thanks and love your blog!

  • Hils October 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

    This was an amazing recipe! It was a bit of work, but it was so worth it. My balls did fall apart, but it didn’t matter because it was delicious anyway! I think next time I might add the coconut cream before adding the kofta balls just to avoid that extra bit of stirring that made them fall apart. The home made sauce was a tasty addition and was so easy to make! I just put the capsicum and tomatoes in the oven while I was cooing the lentils. Easy!

  • Amabel November 11, 2011 at 12:03 am

    This dish looks absolutely delicious! I love a good Indian meal- a curry, some raita and some roti or rice. Will definitely try this! Also, I’ve just discovered your site and think it’s great! So many amazing recipes for vegetarians. Thank you!

  • Nicole April 19, 2012 at 2:10 am

    Made these last night (along with a homemade curry paste i found on – oh my GOD!!! Amazing! Delicious! Fantastic! Will hopefully have the balls stay together the next time I cook this… which will be soon! I love that my meat-eating friends even loved this. It had everything. BRAVA!

  • Jen @ giftboxology April 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Hi Trudy. Just wanted to leave a message to say that I have been itching to try this recipe ever since I discovered your blog. I first tried Kofta at the Redcliffe Festival of the Sails on Good Friday and fell in love. I really feel like I have finally mastered a truly unreal vegetarian dish now that I have made your Dal Kofta successfully.
    Thank you so much for your beautiful recipes, photography and small insights in your (veggie) life.
    Jen x

  • Angelica March 8, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    Trudy, I have made this yesterday and it was amazing, thank you so much for sharing this recipe! But the balls I made kept on crumbling once I put them in the sauce. What might be happening? I did leave them in the fridge overnight before cooking them in the oven.

    • Trudy ~ Veggie num num June 1, 2016 at 12:20 am

      Hi Angelica, did you deep fry or bake them. They do tend to fall apart in the sauce a little. Perhaps your mixture is too dry? Try adding a little oil (coconut maybe) or add about a tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in a 1/4 cup of water until a gel forms. Both these might help keep them together a bit. Glad you enjoyed the recipe x

  • plasterers bristol August 9, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Never tried making these before, looks like a delicious recipe. Thanks for sharing.


  • Sanjay September 17, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    This was very good! The koftas came out nice & sturdy and sauce had a ton of flavour. Only thing i added was a cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Thanks for posting!