Pakistani Meatballs with Gravy (Koftay) Recipe -
Pakistani Meatballs with Gravy (Koftay) Recipe
  • READY IN 1 hr

Pakistani Meatballs with Gravy (Koftay)

Recipe by  

"This is Pakistani meatballs recipe. Serve this classic dish hot with pita bread or naan."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 meatballs Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    40 mins

    1 hr


  1. In a medium bowl, mix lean ground beef, half of the onions, chili powder, black pepper, cloves, cumin and cardamom. Shape the mixture into approximately six 2 inch meatballs.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir the remaining onion in the vegetable oil until tender. Mix in the yogurt, lentils, ginger paste, garlic paste, coriander seed, water, red pepper and salt. Place the meatballs into the mixture. Reduce heat to low and cook 30 minutes, until meatballs are evenly browned and lentils are tender.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
May 13, 2008

These were delicious—but you have to change the preparation method. Meatballs will never get nice and brown cooking in a liquid; they'll just turn gray. You need to brown them separately. I cut about half an onion in a fine dice for the meatballs, the rest in thin slices. Use cayenne pepper, not what Americans call chili powder: that's a Mexican spice blend that'll change the flavor. I added a clove of minced garlic and a bit of minced ginger to the meat mixture as well, and salt. I only used a ¼ tsp. of cloves, because they're so strong, but I probably could've gone with the full amount. For the sauce, I caramelized the onions; added the garlic, ginger, and spices and stirred for a minute or two. Then I added 2 c. water and the lentils (I used chana dal, but red lentils would cook faster). I didn't add the yogurt until the end, because I didn't want it to curdle; and don't add salt until the end of the cooking time, either. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender; add the half cup of water if you need it (I didn't). Meanwhile, shape the meatballs. Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet, and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside. When lentils are tender, stir in salt to taste and whisk in the yogurt. Don't let the yogurt boil, or it will curdle. (Full-fat yogurt works best.) Add meatballs just to warm them. I served this with brown rice, topped with chopped cilantro (aka fresh coriander), with naan on the side. For me, total prep/cooking time was about 1.5 hrs.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Oct 11, 2010

The onions for the meatballs need to be finely diced, not sliced. So I then followed the recipe but found it needed a lot of liquid to soften the lentils; I used a ton of plain yogurt, plus about a cup of chicken broth. After 45 minutes, the lentils were still FAR from being cooked, but by this time the meatballs had started to fall apart. After 75 minutes, I ended up with a panful of unappetizing-looking bland meaty sludge. Husband ate some begrudgingly. Not recommended. Sorry.


13 Ratings

Jan 25, 2004

Wonderful Pakistani cuisine! Thank you!

Apr 17, 2009

This is pretty close to what I make at home for myself and my hubby, though the method is different. What I do is I grind the onion till it is pureed. I then add half the onion (squeeze out all the water) to the ground beef, with about 2 tsp chopped cilantro and 1 tbsp gram flour with all the spices. I fried the onion till golden brown, add the spices fried them. Then i whipped the yogurt and added it to the onion mixture 1 tbsp, then stir, 1 tbsp then stir, until all the yogurt was incorporated. Cooked it for 10 minutes added 2 cups water, let the mixture boil for 15 minutes and added the meat balls and lower the heat to low covered and let it cook in the gravy for 35 minutes. When done, decorated with chopped cilantro

Oct 11, 2010

A very strange cross between koftay & dahl that doesn't seem to hit the mark on either. My Pakistani family members called it "completely untraditional" and said it was something they'd never come across. Although the dish was edible, we didn't enjoy it because it simply didn't taste like traditional Pakistani food. Aside from this, I found the recipe itself to be rather imprecise. I had no idea what type of lentils to use, so I went with the brown ones. Two onions in the meat mixture was way too much, and I wasn't sure how much to set aside for the sauce as the recipe doesn't specify. After 1 hour of cooking on low heat, the lentils were still hard, and the sauce was still very soupy. I then covered the mix and continued to cook on medium heat for another full hour. At that point, the lentils were finally softening up, and the water was almost fully absorbed/evaporated. The total prep time for me was about 20 minutes, but the cook time was a full 2 hours. In the end, I gave it two stars because it was edible; but overall, this recipe totally missed the mark.

Aug 14, 2007

I wont be trying this one again.

Mar 04, 2005

This recipe didn't come out especially well for me. After 30 minutes of cooking on low, the meatballs were still raw, the gravy was still very watery, and the lentils were still hard as rocks. I had to turn the heat up to medium and boil for an additional 30 minutes. The lentils were still hard, but at that point all the liquid was gone, so I just gave up and served it as it was. The flavor of the meatballs was okay, and the dish was edible, but not good by any means. Perhaps with some tweaking it could be improved.

Jul 27, 2006

Not great. The sauce took forever to thicken and I actually added lots more yougurt to try to get it to thicken up. I don't think we will make this again.


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  • Calories
  • 606 kcal
  • 30%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 31.6 g
  • 10%
  • Cholesterol
  • 119 mg
  • 40%
  • Fat
  • 32.6 g
  • 50%
  • Fiber
  • 8.7 g
  • 35%
  • Protein
  • 45.8 g
  • 92%
  • Sodium
  • 235 mg
  • 9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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