Lamb Kofta Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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By Durkhanai Ayubi

Published 2020

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Many dishes in Afghan cooking require the layering of sauces and dairy-based dressings. This kofta sauce, typically made using lamb, is a flavour-rich topping for dumplings such as mantu and ashak, or it can be stirred through aush soup. Onion and garlic are browned for the base, to which the ground meat is added and fried. Plenty of tomato creates a rich sauce flavoured with fragrant spices.


  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500 g (1 lb) minced (ground) lamb
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 60 g (¼ cup) chana dal (or yellow split peas)


Process the tomatoes until puréed in a blender or food processor and set aside.

Add the oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Fry the onion and garlic for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown, then add the meat and fry for 10 minutes or so, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and breaking it up so there are no large clumps, until the meat is browned.

Stir in the turmeric, curry powder, coriander and 1 teaspoon salt and fry for another 5 minutes, or until the meat starts to release water. Boil the mixture for a further 5 minutes, so that some of the water reduces and the oil rises to the top.

Stir in the tomato, tomato paste, vinegar and 250 ml (1 cup) water. Continue to break down any remaining large clumps of meat with a wooden spoon, so it’s relatively evenly minced, and bring to the boil.

Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer gently over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile, put the chana dal into a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, or until the dal is soft, but not mushy. Drain, then add to the sauce and stir through to combine.