You'll love this delicious zucchini kofta curry with zucchini and chickpea flour dumplings in a spicy sauce. It spins off a north Indian dish called lauki kofta made with bottle gourd, a summer squash that's widely eaten all over India. I've adapted the curry to a squash we are more familiar with here, zucchini, and it works just as well.
This zucchini kofta curry is one of those dishes that makes everyone happy at our dinner table. It is satisfying, comforting, and the hearty zucchini kofta balls appeal to the kids and omnivores in the family.
Koftas are typically eaten in central and south Asian countries. These are usually meatballs with local flavors, although given the distinctive vegetarian arc of countries like India, you are as likely to find meatless versions of koftas.
I have an awesome vegan malai kofta curry recipe on the blog. But I love this seasonal variation with zucchinis for a change. The zucchini koftas are also a good option if you can't eat dairy or soy or nuts.
The kofta balls are made with zucchini shreds, chickpea flour, spices like turmeric, cayenne and coriander powder, and ginger garlic paste. They are pan-fried in a shallow layer of oil, but for a healthier version you can also bake them (although the fried version definitely wins points for flavor).
The curry is made up of some of the same spices that go into the kofta. It is a rich orange, pretty to look at, and it tastes gorgeous. Your guests might look at it, and taste it, and think they've walked into an upscale Indian restaurant. 😉
Ingredients for zucchini kofta curry
- Zucchini (yellow squash works too)
- Coriander powder
- Cumin powder
- Ginger garlic paste
- Besan or chickpea flour
- Rice flour (optional)
- Salt to taste
- Vegetable oil
- Garam masala
- Raw cashews (or raw pumpkin seeds if gluten-free)
- Kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves, optional but nice)
Tips and tricks
- Remove all the moisture from the zucchini. It is critical you do this, because zucchini has a lot of moisture and if you skip this step, or make a half-hearted effort, you will end up with a watery mess that you won't be able to form into koftas. To do this:
- Grate the zucchini using the large holes on the grater. Sprinkle on half a teaspoon of salt and mix it in, then let the zucchini stand 10 minutes in a strainer or bowl. Place the zucchini in a cheesecloth after squeezing out as much moisture as you can by hand. Wring the cheesecloth to get any remaining moisture out.
- Place the zucchini shreds in a bowl. Add the spices to it--cayenne, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and ginger garlic paste and mix it in.
- Add besan or garbanzo bean flour, and a couple of tablespoons of rice flour. The rice flour is optional, but it helps the koftas crisp up better. Form 18-20 balls and flatten them slightly so they'll be easier to shallow-fry.
- Shallow fry the koftas in a pan with an eighth of an inch of oil or more. Flip over after the underside turns golden-brown.
- Remove the koftas to a baking sheet or colander lined with paper napkins and proceed with making the curry in the same pan. If there is more oil in the pan than you'd prefer, throw most of it out--you just need a small amount to fry the onions for the curry.
- To make the curry, fry the onions, and when they start to turn golden brown add the ginger garlic paste. You need very little of it, no more than half a teaspoon.
- Puree the tomatoes with the cashew nuts or pumpkin seeds and add that to the pan. Add the cayenne, turmeric and garam masala and let the tomatoes cook until they lose most of their moisture and darken.
- Add 2 cups of water to the pan. If the curry thickens up as it cooks, add more water, although you want a fairly thick consistency to this kofta curry.
- Add salt to taste and the kasoori methi. At this point add half a teaspoon of sugar to the curry and let it all cook for another 10 minutes or until you see small specks of oil on the surface. Turn off the heat
- Place the koftas in a serving dish and pour the curry on top.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot or warm.
Frequently asked questions
You can use yellow squash or, if you're in India or are near an Indian store, you could use lauki or bottle gourd.
You could also use a green bell pepper, grated, in combination with the zucchini, or cabbage.
You certainly can. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray, or, preferably, line with parchment or a silpat sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping the koftas over halfway through baking, or until golden-brown.
Place the koftas in a single layer in the basket and spray with oil. Air-fry at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden-brown. Flip the koftas halfway through cooking time so they brown evenly.
Flash freeze the koftas by placing them side by side on a baking sheet in the freezer. Then place them in a freezer storage bag or in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
I would not advise putting the koftas in the curry and freezing them. Freeze the curry separately. Reheat the koftas and curry, again separately, and put them together before serving.
More spicy vegan curry recipes
- Creamy Cauliflower Curry (Malai Gobi)
- Vegan Malai Kofta
- Vegan Meatball Curry
- Railway Mushroom Curry
- Easy Tofu Curry
Zucchini Kofta Curry
- Large skillet or wok
- 3 medium zucchini (grated with large holes on grater)
- 2 tablespoon rice flour (optional)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric (divided)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (divided, use more or less per your preference)
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder (divided)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 3 tablespoon chickpea flour (or besan)
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste (divided)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (approx, for fying the koftas. You can also bake or air-fry them, see tips and tricks section above)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 3 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoon raw cashews (use pumpkin seeds if nut-free)
- 2 teaspoon garam masala (or more, as garam masala brands vary. Add more if needed after tasting)
- 2 tablespoon kasoori methi
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (chopped)
- Salt to taste
- Grate the zucchini using the large holes on the grater. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt and mix it in, then let the zucchini stand 10 minutes in a strainer or bowl.Place the zucchini in a cheesecloth after squeezing out as much moisture as you can by hand. Wring the cheesecloth to get any remaining moisture out.
- Place the zucchini shreds in a bowl. Add the spices to it--half of the cayenne, half of the turmeric, half of the coriander powder, all of the cumin powder and a teaspoon of the ginger garlic paste and mix it in. Add the chickpea flour and rice flour, if using. Form 18-20 balls and flatten them slightly so they'll be easier to shallow-fry.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. You need enough oil to coat the bottom and then some more, about an eighth of an inch deep. Shallow fry the koftas on both sides, without crowding, until golden brown. Remove them to a colander or plate lined with a paper towel.
- If there is much oil remaining in the pan, you can pour some of it out and leave just enough to saute the onions, about a teaspoon. Saute the onions, and when they start to turn golden brown add the remaining ½ teaspoon of ginger garlic paste. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- While the onions are frying, puree the tomatoes with the cashew nuts or pumpkin seeds. Add the tomatoes to the pan, then add the remaining cayenne, coriander powder, turmeric and garam masala and let the tomatoes cook, stirring frequently, until they lose most of their moisture and darken.
- Add 2 cups of water to the pan and mix it in. Add the kasoori methi, crushing it between your palms as you add it to both powder it coarsely and to release the flavors. Mix it in.If the curry thickens up as it cooks, add more water, although you want a fairly thick consistency to this kofta curry.
- Once the curry comes to a boil, let it cook about 10 minutes for the flavors to meld together. Then add salt to taste. Turn off the heat.
- Place the kofta balls in a serving dish and pour the curry on top. Garnish with cilantro.
- Serve hot or warm.
- Nutrition info is for pan-fried koftas. You can cut down on the oil by baking or air frying and further reduce the calorie and fat count.
Love this zucchini kofta curry? Check out more vegan curry recipes on Holy Cow!