Courgette “Meatballs” and Curry Gravy

Courgette “Meatballs” and Curry Gravy

Variation on a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, originally on
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4


For the “Meatballs”:

  • 3 medium courgettes
  • 1 fresh green chilli can use more or less, to your taste
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp coriander
  • ½ cup chickpea flour/gram flour
  • vegetable oil for frying

For the Curry Gravy:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely (minced or grated)large free-range eggs
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (could use tinned)
  • 1 cup double cream optional, depends if you like creamy curry sauces
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin, roasted
  • ¼ tsp salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp roasted cashew nuts, chopped optional


Method for the “Meatballs”:

  • Wash, trim and grate the  courgettes – use the regular grate size on your grater, grating too fine may make it too soggy. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with the ½ tsp salt. Set aside for about ½ an hour.
  • Once the courgettes have sat for about ½ an hour, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, using your hands or pressing through a fine mesh colander. Reserve the liquid you press out, it will be used in the gravy. Dry out the bowl and put the courgettes back in.
  • Whiz the onion, chilli,, ginger and 2 tbsp of the coriander in a food processor so they are nice and fine (reserve the rest of the coriander for garnish) and mix in with the courgettes.  Sift the chickpea flour over the courgette mixture. Mix well and form into about 40 balls, about a teaspoon so they are fork sized to eat. If they’re too large, they won’t cook well in the middle unless you fully immerse them in oil.

Option 1 – Frying:

  • I prefer to use as little oil as possible for frying, so I flatten them out a bit to make frying easier.
  • In a pan or wok heat about 1 ½ inches of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in about 5 or 6 of the balls – or as many will fit in one layer with room around each of them.
  • Fry for about 2 minutes, turning them until you get a nice even brown coat. I suggest you test one to get a feel for how long it will take to fully cook inside since it really depends on how large you make them, and how much oil is in your pan and how aggressive the heat.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towel. Continue with the rest of the ‘meatballs’, then set aside.

Option 2 – Oven:

  • If you are cooking in advance and have the oven on for something else, I find this works well.
  • Oil a baking tray generously and heat through in the top of the oven. When the oil is hot, put in the balls in one layer with room around each of them.
  • Pop them in the top of the oven for about 5 mins (depending how hot the oven is, which will depend what else you are doing), and then when browned on the bottom, turn over and do the other side.
  • When nicely browned all over, remove from tray and leave to drain on paper towel.

Method for the Gravy:

  • Use about 5 tbsp of the oil from the frying and put into a skillet or saute pan. Heat the oil over medium heat and add onion once the oil is hot. Fry the onion for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onion begins to brown and become translucent. Take care not to burn the onion.
  • Once cooked, take the pan off the heat for a moment and add the turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin, and coriander. Stir and then return to the heat. Add the tomatoes and let that cook for about 5 minutes to combine flavours.
  • Add 1 cup of the courgette ‘juice’ — if you are short, top up with water to reach 1 cup.
  • Bring to a boil the lower the heat and let the sauce simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Up to this point, you could prepare the recipe in advance.

To finish:

  • (Reheat if you have made in advance), add the cream if using, garam masala, roasted cumin and salt. (To roast the cumin, just put it in a dry really hot pan for a few minutes taking care not to burn). Mix sauce well and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the ‘meatballs’ and gently spoon the sauce over them, trying not to break any of them. The meatballs turn soft in the sauce, so only cook enough to warm them through.  Or you can preheat the meatballs in the microwave and add the hot sauce to them.
  • Serve immediately with basmati rice and/or roti or naan bread. Garnish with the reserved fresh coriander and cashews if using.