Margarita's International Recipes



Kashmiri Meatballs in Yoghurt Gravy


I first - and last - had gushtaba over 20 years ago in Kashmir. I was vacationing in a house boat on Dal lake, with meals cooked by the family that owned it. According to the owner, gushtaba was the most special dish in Kashmir and he would make it for me, though I had to pay extra for the expensive ingredients. I did, and I cherished the experience enough to remember it over two decades later - though I didn't find the meatballs delicious enough to merit making myself. Until now, that is. Visiting Kashmir in my project, I knew I had to make them.

There are many slightly different recipes for gushtaba online, and I settled on one that seemed authentic, while still being relatively simple. I was quite pleased with the results. The meatballs were tasty, and the brothy sauce was delicious. Indeed, soaking up the broth in garlic pita bread was my favorite part of the meal.

I wasn't crazy about the meatballs themselves. While processing (or pounding) the meat does make them lighter, the lack of filler still made them denser that I wished. If I made this again, I'd add some breadcrumbs to the meatballs, even though it's not traditional.

I modified the recipe somewhat. I used ginger in the meatballs, as was suggested by several other recipes. I used ginger garlic paste instead of the minced garlic and ground ginger in the sauce. And I forgot to add the cloves. I did make my own fried onion paste (you just slice the onions thinly - I used a single yellow onion - and then fry it in low heat for half an hour, stirring every so often, before pureeing them).




  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 green cardamon pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 black cardamon pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 cloves (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/4 tsp dried mint
  • 1 Tbsp fried onion paste
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 4 cups light lamb or chicken broth*
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt


Working in batches, if needed, place the lamb, ginger and ground cardamon in a food processor and process until the meat is smooth. Alternatively, pound using a large mortal and pestle. Form into 12 meatballs. Set aside.

Melt ghee over medium heat in a wide saucepan. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Push meatballs to a side and add the bay leaves, green and black cardamon pods, cloves (if using), fennel and mint. Stir for 10 seconds. Add the onion and ginger-garlic pastes. Stir for another 10 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and stir in the yogurt.

Simmer, uncovered, for about one hour or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Adapted from Azlin Bloor's recipe at

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