Kofta (see section Name for other names) is a Middle Eastern, Indian and Balkan meatball or meatloaf. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onions. In India, Turkey and Iran, koftas are usually made of lamb, beef, mutton or chicken, whereas Greek and Cypriot varieties are usually made of beef, veal, pork or mixtures of them.
They are often shaped into meatballs which are prepared with a mixture of ground meat, rice and leeks, and served dry. In India, vegetarian varieties, like lauki kofta and shahi aloo kofta, are popular, as religious beliefs generally forbid consumption of meat. In Iran, Balochistan and Pakistan, koftas are served with a spiced gravy, as dry versions are considered to be kebabs. Shrimp and fish koftas are found in South India, West Bengal, Bangladesh and in some parts of the Persian Gulf states.
The meat is often mixed with other ingredients such as rice, bulgur, vegetables, or eggs to form a smooth paste. Koftas are sometimes made with fish or vegetables rather than red meat, especially in India. They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce. Variations occur in North Africa, the Mediterranean, Balkans, and India. According to a 2005 study done by a private food company, there were 291 different kinds of kofta in Turkey.  In Arab countries, kufta is usually shaped into cigar-shaped cylinders.
Early recipes (included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks) generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the West and is referred to as gilding, or endoring. Many regional variations exist, notable among them the unusually large Iran Tabriz kuftesi, having an average diameter of 20 cm, (8 in). and despite its association with Iran.
Koftas were introduced to India with the Muslim conquests. Koftas in Indian cuisine are normally cooked in a spiced gravy, or curry, and sometimes simmered with hard boiled eggs. Kofta dishes are very popular with immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent to the U.K., and are widely available from many and Indian restaurants. Vegetarian koftas are generally eaten by Hindus, with the exception of Kashmiri Hindus who by and large prefer meat koftas. Likewise, many Indian Muslims consume vegetarian koftas. The British dish Scotch egg may have been inspired by the Moghul dish nargisi kofta ("narcissus kofta"), where hard-boiled eggs are encased in a layer of spicy kofta meat. In Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made with prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage, as well as minced goat meat. In Kashmir, mutton is often used in the preparation of koftas, as opposed to beef or lamb.
In Lebanese cuisine, kafta is usually prepared by mixing the ground beef with onion, parsley, allspice, black pepper and salt.
In Moroccan cuisine, kufta may be prepared in a tagine.
In Albania they are called Qofte, and they are usually made from beef, veal, pork or a mixture of them. They are usually served with Meze or Tarator. They are very popular all around Albania and there are many small shops called Qofteri which offer Qofte and also serve beer.
Etymologically, the word ""kofta"" in Azerbaijan Turkish means "rounding" or "ball". Some believes that it is from kuftan in Persian Kūfte: In Persian, کوفتن (Kuftan) which means "to beat" or "to grind" or meatball.
- Afghanistan: كوفته (kofta)
- Albania: qofte
- Arab countries: كفته (kufta in standard Arabic & most dialects; kafta)
- Armenia: քյուֆթա (kyuft’a)
- Azerbaijan: küftə
- Bangladesh: kofta
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: ćufta
- Bulgaria: кюфте (kyufte)
- Croatia: ćufta
- Georgia: კუტლეტი (often served with sour plum sauce)
- Greece: κεφτές (keftés)
- Hebrew: כופתה (kufta, usually served in a soup)
- India: कोफ़्ता kofta
- Iran: کوفته (kufteh)
- Kurdistan: Kufte/کفتە
- Pakistan: كوفته (kofta)
- Republic of Macedonia: ќофте (kjofte)
- Romania: chiftea
- Serbia: ћуфтa (ćufta) or ћуфтe (ćufte)
- Turkey: köfte
- Inegol Koftesi
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta
- Hinkhoj.com: Meaning of "Nargisis" in Hindi Retrieved 2013-01-28
- Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta and Scotch egg
- Alan S. Kaye, "Persian loanwords in English", English Today 20:20-24 (2004), doi:10.1017/S0266078404004043.
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