Kofta, a classic dish of Moghul origin, is one of the most important preparations of Indian vegetarian cuisine.
Traditionally, koftas are simmered in a delicate sauce and turned into a curried main dish.
These kebabs are wonderful served as cocktail appetizers with a yogurt or fruity dipping sauce.
The kofta: Combine potatoes, peas, cheese, chile, coriander, cumin, salt, cashews and raisins.
Form mixture into 1-inch balls.
Make a batter with the flour and water.
Season with pinch of salt, if desired.
Heat oil to 375 degrees F in a deep fryer or large heavy saucepan.
Dip balls into batter to coat completely, and deep-fry until brown (do not crowd), about 4 minutes.
(If you want the kebabs to remain firm, put them on a heated serving platter, and tent with foil.
To serve, bring cream sauce to a boil and pour over kebabs.
) The sauce: Grind cashews, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and garlic with a little water to make a fine paste.
Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onion and saute until wilted; stir in ground paste and cook 2 minutes.
Add turmeric, paprika, coriander, cayenne and salt.
Stir in half-and-half and water.
Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes.
(May be prepared 2 days ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated.
) Stir in cream and kofta kebabs.
Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.
Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
Note: Chick-pea flour (also called besan) may be purchased at Indian grocery stores.
PER SERVING: 645 calories, 15 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 43 g fat (19 g saturated), 86 mg cholesterol, 1,450 mg sodium, 8 g fiber.
Laxmi Hiremath writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/92.