Baked Beef Kofta with Paneer

, from Issue #30. September, 2015
Photography by Nick Tresidder.
Baked Beef Kofta with Paneer

In this recipe, beef kofta are baked in a paneer-dotted tomato sauce – it's the perfect comforting winter meal.


Serves: 6


500 grams beef mince
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano (Sicilian if possible)
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ small red onion, grated
½ teaspoon each ground allspice, cumin and cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 egg, lightly beaten
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Tomato sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
2 x 400 grams tins crushed Italian tomatoes

To cook
2 tablespoons olive oil
200 grams paneer or firm feta cheese

Spinach and yoghurt raita
1 bag baby spinach
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup thick, plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
small handful mint, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Raita: Put the spinach in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Turn to wilt then drain and refresh. Place in a clean tea towel and wring out excess water. Pull the spinach apart and chop roughly.

Soak the onion in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain well. Combine the yoghurt, garlic and mint in a bowl and season. Place half the yoghurt in a shallow dish and top with half the spinach and onions. Repeat to make another layer and grind over a little black pepper.

Kofta: Combine all the ingredients except the beef in a large bowl. Add the beef, season generously, and mix until well combined. Hands are good for this. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and quickly brown the kofta on all sides. They will still be raw in the centre.

Transfer to a plate and set aside. Don’t wash the sauté pan.

Tomato sauce: Add the onion, carrot, garlic and chilli flakes to the reserved sauté pan, season and cook until the onion is tender. Add a splash of water if the pan is too dry. Tip in the tomatoes and simmer gently for ten minutes. Add the kofta and any meat resting juices back to the pan and turn to coat in the sauce. Cut the paneer or feta into cubes and dot between the kofta. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the kofta are cooked through.

To serve: Scatter with coriander and serve with the spinach and yoghurt raita.

Sicilian oregano: In Sicily oregano is left to flower and then to dry naturally on the hillsides under the heat of the sun. It has an intensity of flavour rarely found in other types of dried oregano.  It is available in its whole form from gourmet food stores.

Paneer: the Indian version of cottage cheese. Made in large blocks, it is quite different to the soft curd cottage cheese that we buy at the supermarket. It is cut into cubes or slices for cooking and readily absorbs the flavours of the other ingredients used in the dish. It is available from Indian and Asian food stores, good supermarkets and specialty food stores.