Kofta Pilau (Rice with Meatballs)

  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 1:30 h
  • Cook Time : 1:40 h
  • Ready In : 3:10 h


  • 450 g long grain white rice, preferably basmati
  • 1.5 litres water, and a little more
  • 3 tsp char masala
  • 450 g minced beef or lamb
  • 1 medium onion, minced or ground
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbs finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 75 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs tomato purée
  • water and salt


Step 1

Rinse the rice several times in cold water until it runs clear. Add fresh water and leave the rice to soak for at least half an hour.

Step 2

Combine minced meat with onion, garlic, coriander, peper, salt, 1 tsp char masala and fresh coriander together for the meatballs and knead the mixture with the hands until it becomes smooth and sticky.

Step 3

It is essential that the mixture should be really well mixed and kneaded to give the meatballs their characteristic smooth texture and also to prevent them from breaking up while being cooked.

Step 4

Shape into balls about 2.5–5 cm in diameter. It is best to use wet hands to form the balls into smooth shapes by dipping them from time to time into a little salted water. Some Afghans use egg white to smooth the balls into shape. This also helps prevent the meatball from breaking up.

Step 5

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium to high heat. Add the chopped onions and fry, stirring continuously until they are reddish-brown.

Step 6

Add the tomato purée and stir and fry briskly until the sauce turns brownish.

Step 7

Stir in a little water. Add salt and pepper, according to taste.

Step 8

Bring to the boiling point and then add the meatballs, one at a time, in a single layer. Add more water as necessary to just cover the meatballs. Now cover with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar.

Step 9

Turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the meatballs and sauce are brown and the sauce thick.

Step 10

Bring to the boil the 1.5 litres of water with about 1 teaspoon of salt.

Step 11

Drain the rice and add to the boiling water. Parboil for 2–3 minutes. Drain the rice in a large sieve.

Step 12

Put half of the rice in a large casserole with a tightly fitting lid and then add the meatballs with the rest of the rice on top.

Step 13

Make up the sauce of the meatballs to about 175 ml with a little more water, add it to the rice, and sprinkle the char masala on top of the rice. Mix gently, taking care not to break the meatballs.

Step 14

Cover and put into a preheated oven at 150°C (300°F, mark 2) for about 45 minutes; or leave over a very low heat on top of the stove for the same length of time.

Step 15

When serving, the meatballs are mixed in with the rice. Delicious served with a mixed salad or a burani dish.

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