READER RECIPE / Great balls of fire

THIS recipe, from T E Lobo of Ealing, west London, opens our new series on curries. Mrs Lobo will receive two bottles of Pinot Grigio 1992 Borgo Molino. She writes: 'I am proud to enclose a recipe from my late husband, Peter, a Goan who had lived in Darjeeling until he came to Britain when he was 20.'

Kofta (Meatball) Curry

Serves 4-6

Sauce ingredients: sunflower oil

3 medium onions

14oz (400g) tin of tomatoes

2-3tbs vinegar

1tbs coriander powder

1tbs cumin powder

1tbs garam masala

2tsp hot Madras curry powder

1 1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger or 2tsp finely grated root

8 crushed black peppercorns

2-3 small cinnamon sticks

5 cloves

salt to taste

For meatballs: 1 1/2 lb (675g) minced beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2tsp garam masala

1 1/2 tsp coriander powder

1tsp cumin

2-3 cloves finely minced garlic

2 eggs, lightly whisked

2 slices stale bread, soaked in water then pressed to be as dry as possible

1 1/2 tbs vinegar

1 1/2 tsp mint sauce

Preparation: Finely chop onions. Fry in 4-6tbs oil until starting to brown. Add cloves and cinnamon sticks. Make a runny paste of spices with vinegar and a bit of water. Add to onions, cook 4-5 minutes on medium heat, stirring gently. Add tomatoes, pulping them in well. Salt and simmer, stirring, for 25-30 minutes. Add water as needed to maintain a loose sauce. Now make the meatballs: in a large bowl, mix spices and garlic with eggs, mint sauce and vinegar. Add chopped onion, bread, salt and mix. Add mince, blend well. Form walnut-sized balls. Heat a large frying pan with 3tbs sunflower oil. When almost smoking hot, add meatballs. Reduce heat, cook for about 8 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove meatballs with slotted spoon and stir into sauce. Allow to simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with plain rice.

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