Malai kofta is a vegetarian delight made of paneer and potato balls in a rich tomato gravy. Smooth, creamy, and oh so delicious!
Mmmm…Malai Kofta! If you’ve been to an Indian restaurant lately, chances are you’ve ordered this vegetarian delight. It’s just one of those Indian dishes that everybody’s heard of. I don’t know the reason, but there’s something about the dish that makes people love it at first bite!
What does malai kofta taste like?
Think luscious paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and potato balls in a rich but mildly spiced tomato gravy and you start getting the picture. The paneer koftas are quite a treat on their own but when coated with a rich sauce of tomatoes, cashews and cream, they become totally irresistible. (malai = cream and kofta = balls)
How do you make malai kofta?
It’s not a difficult dish to make at home and neither do you have to forego that rich restaurant taste. The ingredients are all readily available and the method, though a bit involved, is straightforward.
It’s a three-step process: make the paneer and potato balls, shallow fry them in some oil and make the gravy.
The good news is that if you make a large batch of koftas in one go, you can freeze them and then you’re just left with frying them and making the gravy.
Is malai kofta healthy?
I think so! There’s nothing unhealthy in the ingredients or the method if you’re shallow frying the dumplings. I mean, there’s paneer (Indian cottage cheese), potatoes, tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, cashews and a few spices that go into making them. Nothing unnatural or processed there.
The cream? Well, it’s just two spoonfuls. But if you can’t stand the thought, go ahead and sub with some coconut milk. The gravy will taste just as nice, I promise.
What to eat with malai kofta
It’s a personal preference, actually. I like to have it with Indian bread like naan, but it pairs well with rice too since there’s a gravy. It tastes great both ways.
You can even have it solo as a snack if you don’t want to go whole hog, gravy and all. I recommend deep frying the balls in this case since you’ll want them crispy on the outside while still soft and creamy inside.
Is it possible to make vegan malai kofta?
Absolutely. Instead of paneer, go for semi-firm tofu and swap the cream for some coconut milk as mentioned earlier. Your vegan version of the dish is ready and it’s just as delicious. Here’s a detailed recipe from The Curious Chickpea if you want to go the vegan route.
As you might have guessed by now, malai kofta is not really a weekday dish which can be whipped out in a jiffy. It does require some work upfront. So, I find myself making it when I’m expecting company or on a particularly leisurely weekend. But the effort is so worth it when you take a bite out of a kofta drenched in that heavenly sauce:)
Malai Kofta (Indian Dumplings in Sauce)
Yield 6 servings
Malai kofta is a vegetarian delight made of paneer and potato balls in a rich tomato gravy. Smooth, creamy, and oh so delicous!
For the koftas:
- 400 grams or 14 oz. Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), grated
- 2 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
- 2 green chillies (cut finely)
- 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
- 2 big tbsp cornflour or cornstarch
- 4 tbsp cooking oil, for shallow frying
- salt, to taste
For the gravy:
- 5 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 medium onion, fried golden brown and ground to a paste
- 1 medium onion, ground to a fine paste
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 24 cashewnuts, soaked in water for 10 minutes and ground to a paste
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1 black cardamom
- 3 green cardamom
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small piece cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 2 tbsp cream
- 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- salt, to taste
For the koftas:
- Mix all the ingredients (except the oil) well and shape into balls.
- Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry the koftas until golden brown on all sides. Keep aside.
For the gravy:
- Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the whole garam masala: black and green cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon.
- When the spices change colour (1 minute), add the onion and ginger garlic pastes. Saute for 5 minutes on high heat.
- Add the cashew paste, tomato puree and Kashmiri red chilli. Add half a glass water and cook covered on medium heat for 15 minutes. If the masala starts sticking to the pan, add a few splashes of water while the gravy is cooking.
- Add the fried and ground onion paste and salt. Cook uncovered on low heat for 15 minutes more. When the gravy cools down a bit, add the cream and kasuri methi.
Assembling the dish:
- Pour the gravy in a wide and shallow dish. Drop the koftas in the gravy one by one, taking care not to pile them on top of each other. Add a small drizzle of cream on top. Serve hot with naan or rice.
- Do not put the koftas in the gravy beforehand. If there is time between making the dish and serving it, keep the two separate. Assemble them only when ready to serve, or the koftas can break.
- There is quite a bit of prep that goes into making this recipe, so it's a good idea to do the grating and grinding in advance. Trying to do everything in one marathon session can be overwhelming even for people familiar with the recipe. Get the grunt work out of the way before you start cooking!
- Don't waste time grating the paneer by hand. Cut the slab into medium sized pieces and grate in a food processor.
- All the ingredients in the recipe are available easily. Kasoori methi and Paneer (Indian cottage cheese) can be bought from any Indian store, but even these are now available in big chain supermarkets like Walmart.
- Tomato puree and ginger garlic pastes can be made at home or store bought to save time.
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 38.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.2 g
Unsaturated Fat 21 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 805.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 26.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Sugars 4.4 g
Protein 15.5 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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