Malai kofta is a tasty dish that consists of fried potato balls with paneer in a creamy, rich gravy with tomatoes and onions. A malai kofta recipe can be labor-intensive but the end result is well worth it. Whether you prefer a spicy malai kofta recipe or want to make malai kofta white gravy to serve to family and friends, you’ll find that this meat-free meal is a savory treat for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
This malai kofta recipe restaurant style is a delciious meal that you’ll find at your favorite Indian eatery, and you can make it healthier when you prepare it at home if you decide not to fry the koftas. A malai kofta recipe is traditional served with basmati rice or garlic naan to make the meal complete.
About This Malai Kofta Recipe
The name “malai kofta” means meatballs in a heavy cream sauce since ‘kofta’ is the word for meatballs and ‘malai’ means ‘heavy cream.’ The malai kofta curry is made with a number of savory and spicy ingredients and is a popular Indian dish, but is also a part of Asian, Balkan, and Middle Eastern cuisine. Malai kofta, as well as other forms of kofta, is usually made with meat, but this Indian food malai kofta is meat-free, which makes it a great meal for Meatless Monday or a healthy option if you’re looking for more vegetarian recipes to make any day of the week.
Indians who are also vegetrians often enjoy malai kofta with a combination of potatoes and mixed vegetables. Other koftas include several types of meat which makes the dish similar to kebabs which are popular in the Middle East or meatballs which are prevalent in Italian cuisine.
When you’re learning how to make malai kofta, you’ll find that this vegetarian dish is popular in Indian restaurants all over the world. You may want to visit these restaurants to compare your homemade dish to the restaurant’s. This kofta is a tasty mixture of potatoes and cheese, so you can invite your non-vegetarian friends and family members to try it as an appetizer or main course, which may motivate them to try meat-free meals more often.
Malai kofta is crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the inside. This fried dumplings are simmered in a tasty gravy that is slightly sweet. If you make malai koft Kashmiri, the dish will be noticeably spicy as well. To make the dish healtheir, you can avoid frying the koftas or shallow-fry them to avoid the extra fat without compromising the texture and taste of these “meatballs.”
Once you prepare the potato balls, add them to a rich red Punjabi gravy. The gravy is made from tomato, onion, cashes, heavy cream, and a variety of spices. You an also make malai kofta recipe white gravy if you don’t want to include tomatoes in the dish. This entree is ideal for special occasions since it is especially rich.
Why This Malai Kofta Recipe Works
There are several variations of malai kofta, but this is one that is ideal for making at home. Once you try this recipe, you’ll definitely want to make it again and it will likely become a family favorite.
For this recipe, the curry gravy is prepared with cashew paste, tomato puree, and onion paste. The cashew paste gives teh curry a rich and creamy consistency. You can add a little more cream to make the dish richer, but the extra cream is not necesaary.
The kofta are very tender and have an exquisite consistency. This “meatballs” have a golden brown coating and have a velvety texture on the inside which makes them especially memorable. This recipe yields around 8 malai kofta and the curry is enough to feed about 4 people. Each person would likely be full with one or two kofta per serving.
Notes for Preparing Malai Kofta
The prep work for this vegetarian dish is time-intensive, so you should plan ahead before making the kofta as an entree or appetizer since you’ll have to prepare the actual malai kofta and the gravy.
To make the gravy, you need cashew paste, onion paste, and tomato paste. You can prep the tomato and onions pastes a day ahead of time. You can also make the kofta mixture a day ahead of time and refrigerate them to make preparation easier the day you want to enjoy the dish. On the day you want to eat the malai kofta, you’ll only have the fry the kofta and prepare the gravy if you make the kofta mix the day before.
Keep in mind that there are two main versions of malai kofta so you can include the flavors you love in your dish. The Punjabi version fo this meal is from North India and the gravy for the kofta is accompanied with an orange-red gravy. If you make the Mughalai version, the dish will be slightly sweet and feature a white gravy.
To make the gravy for malai kofta, you’ll need:
-1 tablespoon of oil (avocado oil is ideal for this recipe)
-1 bay leaf
-1 cinnamon stick (about 1 inch)
-4 slightly crushed whole green cardamom
-1 teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds)
-6-7 roughly chopped large cloves of garlic
-1 1/2 inches of fresh ginger (roughly chopped)
-1 chopped green chili
-1 chopped large yellow onion
-2 chopped large tomatoes
-12 whole, raw cashews
-2 cups of water
-2 tablespoons of butter
-1 teaspoon of oil
-1 teaspoon of powdered coriander
-1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
-half a teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
-1 teaspoon of sugar
-1/8 teaspoon of garam masala ( you can add more to taste)
-2 teaspoons of dried fenugreek leaves
-3 tablespoons of heavy cream
-a pinch of powdered cardamom
-cilantro (for garnish)
To make the malai kofta, you’ll need:
-1 cup of potatoes (mashed and boiled)
-1 cup of grated paneer
-1 tablespoons of ginger (finely chopped)
-1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
-1 chopped green chili
-1 tablespoon of chopped cashews
-1 tablespoon of chopped golden raisins
-1 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour (cornstarch)
-half a teaspoon of salt
-1/4 teaspoon of white pepper
-1/4 teaspoon of powdered cardamom
-oil for frying (sunflower oil is ideal for this step)
Ingredient Notes for Malai Kofta
Here are some notes to remember for each ingredient used to make this savory dish:
Paneer-This ingredient is available in the frzoen section at Indian grocers. Nanak, gopi brand is ideal for making this kofta dish. HOwever, swad and brar brands are fine as well. You can also make homemade paneer, but the store-bought version works just fine.
Potato-You can boil the potatoes in an instant pot. Let the potatoes cool for a few minutes before peeling them. Use a potato masher or fork to start creating the kofta mixture. You can also grate the boiled potato to prepare it for the kofta.
Cornstarch-This ingredient is a binding agent and allows you to roll the kofta into the correct shape.
Raisins and nuts-You can just add cashews to the recipe but you can also add raisins to malai kofta. If you don’t like raisins, you can skip them.
Butter and Oil-You can use a mixture of both of these ingredients for the kofta recipe. Butter makes the dish richer, but you can also use ghee or skip the butter altoogether and use oil.
Cashews-This ingredient helps to make the gravy creamy and gives it a mild, nutty flavor.
Whole spices- spices such as bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, and cardammom are added to the butter and tempered. These spices add a pleasant fragrance and taste to the dish.
Red onions- It is best to use red onions instead of yellow onions since red onions have a more pronounced flavor.
Tomatoes- Ripe tomatoes are always best for this recipe. If the tomatoes are not ripe enouogh, the gravy will have a sour taste. Roma tomatoes are best for this dish and add the right flavor and consistency to the malai kofta.
Step By Step Instructions
For the kofta:
When you’ve gathered all the ingredients and you’re ready to make the malai kofta, take the paneer, potatoes, cornstarch, cashews, garam masala, and salt in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well by hand; the contents will start to come together and form a dough.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts and create round, smooth balls.
If you won’t want to deep-fry the malai kofta, you can heat the pan on medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to each section. When the oil is hot, place the kofta in the pan. Once the kofta is golden brown on the bottom, cook on the other side. Add a little more oil if needed. Saute all sides of the kofta to ensure that the brown color is all over the “meatball.” Remove the kofta from the pan and place them on a plate to cool.
If you choose to deep-fry the kofta, heat the oil in a pan or kadai while you’re shaping the kofta. When the oil is hot, gently place the kofta in the oil. Continue moving the kofta every few seconds to make sure it is brown on all sides. Remove the kofta from the oil using a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels.
For the gravy:
Take the onion, ginger, tomato, garlic, cashews, and water and place them in a pan. Turn the heat to the medium setting. Let the ingredients simmer for about 15 minutes or until the onions soften. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool.
Place the mixture in a blender jar and blend until the ingredients form a smooth gravy.
Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Turn the pan to medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Add the spices and saute the mixture for about a minute until the spices start to give off an aroma.
Add the pureed gravy mixture. Mix thoroughly and cook for about five minutes or until the gravy starts to thicken. The gravy may sputter, so cover the pan partially while cooking. Stir every few seconds to make sure the gravy mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.
Add the coriander and chili powder and cook for an additional minute. Add the salt and water and allow the gravy to simmer for another five minutes.
Add the garam masala and kasoori methi (crush it between your palms before adding to the pan). Mix thorouhgly. Add the heavy cream and mix the ingredients again.
Add the koftas to the gravy and turn off the heat and serve the malai kofta right away. If you’re not serving immediately, don’t add the kofta right away; wait until you’re ready to eat the dish to keep the koftas from becoming too soggy in the gravy.
Notes for Preparing the Gravy
When you’re making the malai kofta gravy, you can use a Magic Bullet since this device will grind the ingredients quickly and is easy to clean.
To make the onion paste, chop the onions roughly and make sure you have about one cup. Place the onions in a Magic Bullet (or blender) and blend without water until the onions form a fine paste. Add a little water to achieve the right consistency if needed. Set the onions aside.
To prepare the cashew paste, soak the cashes in hot water for about half an hour. Drain the water from the cashews and add the nuts into the blender with a few tablespoons of water to make a paste. Set this ingredient aside as well.
Be sure not to boil the potatoes for too long. If the potato is overcooked it will hold too much water and make the koftas too soft during frying or when you add the koftas to the gravy.
The cornstarch determines the texture of the kofta as well. If you don’t add enough corn flour or add too much, the koftas could be too mushy or too dense. The koftas should be firm enough to stay intact in the gravy but not too soft that they dissolve in the curry.
Strain the onion and tomato purees to make sure the ingredients are smooth and have a velvety texture. A Vitamix blender is ideal for this step.
You can serve the koftas on a plate and drizzle them with gravy. Garnish the koftas with cilantro and cream. Or, you can ladel the gravy on the plate and then add the cream and place the koftas on top of the gravy. To make the koftas more velvety, allow the koftas to simmer in the gravy for a few minutes before serving.
Koftas can be enjoyed with rice or naan or have a salted lassi on the side to make the meal complete.
Malai kofta can be served for a get-together or dinner party. You can make the gravy in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble the dish.
You can assemble the koftas up to a week before and freeze them until you’re ready to serve. Defrost the koftas to room temperature before frying them.
You can also air fry the kofta for about 15 minutes at 375F as a healthier option.
If you use store-bought paneer for the dish, be susre to place the paneer in hot water for about half an hour. Remove the paneer from the water and pat dry with a paper towel before grating it. You can skip this step if you’re using homemade paneer.
A Few More Tips to Keep In Mind
Fresh paneer is best for malai kofta. Add the paneer to the gravy right before you plan to serve the malai kofta.
You can half, double, or triple this recipe depending on how many people you’re serving.
It is best to use tomatoes that are naturally sweet. Sour tomatoes will cause the gravy to be too tangy and affect the taste of the entire dish.
Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding more less ingredients depending on your preferences.
You can prepaer malai kofta gravy with whole milk instead of cream. If you want to make the dish vegan, you can use coconut milk in place of cream. Preparing shahi malai kofta with water is also an option since there are cashews in the recipe which already lend a creamy texture to the recipe.
One serving of white malai kofta has 368 calories. This dish only has 15 mg of cholesterol, along with 7.7 g of protein, 28.7 grams of carbohydrates, 24.4 g of fat, and 5.6 g of fiber. An easy malai kofta recipe is a healthy and delicious choice for a meat-free dinner, so you can prepare it for vegan or vegetarian family members or serve it to your loved ones for Meatless Monday if you’re trying to cut down on your meat consumption.
Malai kofta is a reliable source of protein and fiber, so the meal can aid in digestion while supplying energy to your muscles. The vegetables used to prepare Kashmiri malai kofta are also filled with vitamins and minerals, and the spiciness of the dish can boost metabolism to help burn fat.
If you’re looking for the best malai kofta recipe for health and possible weight loss, you can shallow-fry or saute the koftas in a healthy oil such as avocado oil instead of deep frying them. This alteration does not compromise the flavor of the dish but lowers the fat content so you can enjoy a guilt-free that is filled with vitamins, minerals, and protein.