Lauki Kofta (Air Fryer & Stove-top)

Koftas made with lauki (bottle gourd) are dunked in an onion-tomato curry in this vegan Lauki Kofta Curry. Serve with rice or bread for a comforting meal.
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This easy Lauki Kofta curry is a simple vegan dish made with lauki (bottle gourd) koftas which are dunked in a tomato-onion based curry. The koftas are traditionally deep fried, but I like air frying them. This makes a simple and comforting meal which can be served with boiled rice or any bread of choice.

lauki kofta curry served in a copper dish with one kofta cut to show the inside

One of the ways I enjoyed lauki as a child (other than lauki kheer) was when mom made Lauki Kofta. In Indian cooking, we refer to koftas as small dumplings which are deep fried and then dunked in a curry. Koftas can be made with several things including vegetables like lauki.

Malai Kofta is probably the most popular kofta curry in Indian cuisine. Lauki kofta is more of a homestyle dish, the kind of dish that’s made in Indian households on an everyday basis. It has no cream, butter. It is not heavy or rich, it’s just basic and good and the kind of dish that I grew up eating on a regular basis. Also, unlike malai kofta, my mom always made lauki kofta like pakoras, in the sense they weren’t perfectly round and she just picked up batter from the bowl and dropped them in hot oil and I make them the same way.

My mom always deep fried her lauki kofta, and I did the same for many years. But ever since I have started using the air fryer, I don’t deep fry them anymore. I am not a fan of deep-frying things until and unless it’s really needed. My biggest problem with deep frying is one that you have to be super careful with so much hot oil and two, I never know what to do with all the leftover oil.

So, now, if possible, I try to air fry and these koftas actually turned out pretty good in the air fryer. I didn’t miss the deep-frying version at all. And I added them to a simple but very flavorful curry made with onion, tomatoes and just some basic Indian spices. This is an easy curry base which you can use for multiple recipes like aloo matar or even matar paneer.

Ingredients

Lauki/bottle gourd: you can find lauki at most Indian grocery stores. Lauki is a type of squash and a very commonly made and available vegetable in India.

Spices: the koftas do not use many spices but the curry uses everyday Indian spices like coriander, turmeric, cumin seeds, garam masala etc.

Binding agents: to bind the koftas, I have added besan (gram flour) and rice flour. Do not add too much of them as we are air frying them. If too much of these binding agents is added, the koftas might remain raw from inside after being air fried.

Other than these ingredients, the base curry is made with onion, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and chilies.

Step by Step Instructions

1- Peel and grate a medium sized lauki (bottle gourd). You would have around 1 & 1/2 cups to 2 cups grated lauki. Add it to a large bowl and then add 1/4 teaspoon salt to it. Let it sit for 15 mins.

2 & 3- Then transfer the lauki to a muslin cloth, and squeeze as much water as possible from the lauki and transfer it to another bowl.

4- To that now, add 5 tablespoons besan and 2 tablespoons rice flour along with the following:

  • 1-2 chopped green chili
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp grated ginger and
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
step by step picture of making lauki kofta in air fryer

5- Mix well and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle little water as needed and combine everything. Mixture should be loose so don’t try to add more besan or rice flour to bind it. If it’s too tight, it won’t cook well from inside in the air fryer.

6- Take small portions from the mixture and divide it into 7 to 8 parts.

7-Preheat your air fryer according to manufacturer’s instructions. Arrange the koftas into the air fryer. Spray with oil and air fry at 350 F for around 20 minutes. Every air fryer is different so you may need 2 minutes less or 2 minutes more.

8- Shake once at the halfway mark. The koftas are now done, set them aside. Let’s make the curry now. Ideally you should make the curry on the side while koftas are cooking. That’s what I did too.

step by step picture of making lauki kofta in air fryer

9- To a pan on medium heat, add 2 tsp oil. Once it’s hot add 1 medium onion (roughly sliced). Cook around 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent

10- Then add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste.

11- Followed by 2 medium tomatoes (roughly sliced) and 1 green chili (chopped). Stir and add 1/4 teaspoon salt

12- Cover and cook for around 4 to 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften, there’s no need to cook them completely, just need to soften them a bit.  Remove the pan from heat and let it cool down a bit.

step by step picture collage of making lauki kofta

13- Then transfer everything to a blender and blend to a fine paste. Set aside.

14- Heat a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil to it, then add 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle.

15- Then add the prepared onion-tomato paste to it and stir.

16- Now, add the following:

  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or 1/2 teaspoon if you prefer spicy.
step by step picture collage of making lauki kofta

17- Cook the spices for 1 minute.

18- Then continue to cook the masala for 5 to 6 minutes until you see oil leaving from the sides. The color of the masala will also change at this point.

19- Then add 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tsp kasuri methi and salt to taste. Stir and let this come to a gentle simmer.

20- Add the prepared koftas. Simmer the curry for 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

step by step picture collage of making lauki kofta

Stove-top Instructions

The instructions for curry remain the same.

For the koftas also everything remains the same. To fry the koftas, heat 2-3 inches of oil in a kadai/work on medium heat. Fry koftas in the hot oil until they all become golden brown in color.

Don’t heat up the oil too high, else the koftas will brown from outside and will remain raw from inside.

Storage and Reheating

This lauki kofta is best served immediately. Store the leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container.

The gravy thickens quite a bit when stored so while re-heating you will need to add some water to thin it out. Then serve with rice or bread of your choice.

3 koftas arranged in a copper dish topped with cilantro

Tips & Notes

  • Don’t make the koftas too firm when air-frying. If you are deep frying then it’s okay but they need to remain loose if air frying else they might remain raw from inside.
  • To make the curry creamier, you can sauté some cashews along with the onions and tomatoes and then blend it with everything else. You can also add some cream to finish off the curry. However, this is a simple everyday curry and I prefer it this way in lauki kofta.
  • Make the curry spicier by adding more green chilies or more of the red chili powder to the curry.
  • Air frying the koftas will take less time if you make smaller koftas. So do keep that into account.
  • Every air fryer is different, my koftas were done in 20 minutes or but it can take you more or less time depending on your air fryer. So keep checking them after the 15 minutes mark.

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Lauki Kofta

lauki kofta curry served in a copper dish with one kofta cut to show the inside
Manali
Koftas made with lauki (bottle gourd) are dunked in an onion-tomato curry in this vegan Lauki Kofta Curry. Serve with rice or bread for a comforting meal.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 116 kcal

Ingredients

For the kofta

  • 1 medium lauki/bottle gourd grated, around 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups grated lauki
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
  • 5 tablespoons besan gram flour, around 45 grams
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour 20 grams
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1-2 green chili finely chopped, adjust to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

For the curry

  • 2 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon oil divided, I used avocado oil
  • 1 medium red onion roughly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 medium tomatoes roughly sliced
  • 1 green chili roughly chopped, or use more for a spicier curry
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder or double for spicier curry
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi crushed
  • cilantro to garnish

Instructions
 

Make the kofta

  • Peel and grate a medium sized lauki (bottle gourd). You would have around 1 & 1/2 cups to 2 cups grated lauki. Add it to a large bowl and then add 1/4 teaspoon salt to it. Let it sit for 15 mins.
  • Then transfer the lauki to a muslin cloth, and squeeze as much water as possible from the lauki and transfer it to another bowl.
  • To that now, add besan, rice flour, chopped green chili, grated ginger and garam masala. Mix everything together using your hands.
  • Add little water as needed and bring it all together. This mixture will be loose and that's what you want. Divide mixture into 7 to 8 parts. The consistency will be like of onion pakora. We need this consistency so that it cooks well in the air fryer (especially from the inside).
  • Preheat your air fryer according to manufacturer's instructions. Arrange the koftas into the air fryer. Spray with oil and air fry at 350 F for around 20 minutes. Every air fryer is different so you may need 2 minutes less or 2 minutes more. Shake once at the halfway mark.
    The koftas are now done, set them aside. Let's make the curry now.

Make the curry

  • To a pan on medium heat, add 2 tsp oil. Once it's hot add sliced onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add ginger-garlic paste, sliced tomatoes and chopped green chili.
    Add 1/4 teaspoon salt for the tomatoes to cook faster.
  • Cover and cook for around 4 to 5 minutes until the tomatoes soften, there's no need to cook them completely, just need to soften them a bit.  Remove the pan from heat and let it cool down a bit. Then transfer to a blender and blend to paste. Set this aside.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil to it, then add cumin seeds and let them sizzle.
  • Add the prepared onion-tomato paste to it and stir. Followed by adding the spices: coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder. Cook the spices for 1 minute.
  • Continue to cook the masala for 5 to 6 minutes until you see oil leaving from the sides. The color of the masala will also change at this point.
  • At this point add 2 cups water, some garam masala, kasuri methi and salt to taste. Stir and let this come to a gentle boil. Add the prepared koftas and simmer the curry for 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Notes

  • Don’t make the koftas too firm when air-frying. If you are deep frying then it’s okay but they need to remain loose if air frying else they might remain raw from inside.
  • To make the curry creamier, you can sauté some cashews along with the onions and tomatoes and then blend it with everything else. You can also add some cream to finish off the curry. However, this is a simple everyday curry and I prefer it this way in lauki kofta.
  • Make the curry spicier by adding more green chilies or more of the red chili powder to the curry.
  • Air frying the koftas will take less time if you make smaller koftas. So do keep that into account.
  • Every air fryer is different, my koftas were done in 20 minutes or but it can take you more or less time depending on your air fryer. So keep checking them after the 15 minutes mark.

Nutrition

Calories: 116kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 390mgPotassium: 423mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 671IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1mg
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