Saffron Lamb Kofta with Apricots
60 Min

Saffron Lamb Kofta with Apricots

Kashmir, considered the most beautiful region of India, has a long history or conquerors and emperors, who shaped the cuisine. It is a place where luxury abounded and this shows in the abundance of meat dishes, nuts like walnuts that are native, delicious apricots and more. It is also where saffron is cultivated and used heavily in the cuisine. These delicate, creamy meatballs are inspired by the cuisine of Kashmir ~ the dried apricots used here are also called Alu Bukhara but feel free to substitute a different apricot.
Share this recipe
Cook Time

60 Minutes



Step 1
A few hours or a day or two before cooking the dish, soak the apricots in plenty of water and refrigerate them. They will plump up to tripe their size. Drain and set aside when ready to cook.
Step 2
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium sized bowl, combine the lamb with yogurt, onion, papaya, black cardamom, red chile and salt. Make walnut sized balls and place them about an inch apart on a greased baking pan.
Step 3
Place in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set them aside.
Step 4
In the meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over high heat, heat the ghee and fry the whole cardamom pods for just a few seconds. They will sputter and turn a bright green.
Step 5
Immediately after, add the minced onions and cook on high until they sweat. Then turn the heat down, cover the pot and let them cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until they have golden brown edges.
Step 6
Now add the chile, cumin, coriander, and salt. Cook for less than a minute then add the ginger, yogurt, heavy cream and saffron. Simmer on low heat for a few minutes, frequently stirring them add about 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring this mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. The fat should rise to the top.
Step 7
Slide the meatballs (and any accompanying juice) and the drained apricots into the sauce. Simmer for a few more minutes then turn the heat off. Let the curry rest for an hour or more.

14 to 15 apricots


1 pound lamb

1 tablespoon thick Greeks- style whole milk yogurt

1 cup minced onion

2 tablespoons of grated green papaya (optional)

1 teaspoon ground black cardamom

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon red chile

1 teaspoon salt


4 to 5 tablespoons of ghee

10 to 12 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed with a rolling pin

1 1/2 cups of minced onion

1 teaspoon red chile powder

1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon ginger puree

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1 cup heavy cream

Generous pinch saffron

Notes & Variations

  • If there is too much liquid in the curry, simmer it at low heat before adding the meatballs. This curry is best served with rice or thick fluffy naans.
  • The papaya tenderizes the meat and makes the meatballs very soft – papaya can also be substituted for a tablespoon of fresh minced pineapple (which has the same enzyme papain) that works as a tenderizer.
  • The curry will taste even better the next day, when the saffron has had a chance to infuse in with the rest of the ingredients.
60 Min

Stock Your Pantry

Say bye to regular ol' meatballs.

Kofta all day, every day. Try out these similar recipes!