Malai Kofta is pretty much my personal favorite of all Indian dishes. It really has everything you need to create deliciousness (in my opinion). I mean- fried potatoes and cheese with a savory cream sauce… what could be better??
But I won’t lie. This isn’t the easiest dish to make. It took the two of us the better part of an afternoon and evening to make it. The result is worth the time commitment, but it isn’t a dish you can just whip up when you get home from work.
First, you have to make the kofta- boiling potatoes, making paneer (though you can just buy it, if you prefer), and combining the two with spices. You then have to fry the kofta, though we just lightly sautéed them in some safflower oil.
Next, you need to make the cream sauce. This isn’t too difficult, but it takes time- first to cut and prep all the veggies and then to combine and simmer everything.
Something I love about many Indian dishes is that there is liberal usage of cilantro (or hara dhania) in every part of the dish. I am one of those people that cannot get enough cilantro! I put it on everything. It is so fresh tasting to me, and brightens a dish right up (especially a creamy one like this). However, if you’re not the biggest fan, I’d encourage you to decrease the measurements for cilantro in this dish. Use your best judgment and don’t go overboard if you know you don’t love the flavor it brings. Same goes for spiciness- though this dish isn’t really all that spicy. Be careful, and taste everything along the way to make sure it is to your liking!
This recipe is loosely adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest, with the idea that it is hopefully a little healthier without the deep frying! Also, if you are using my recipe for paneer (which you can find here), you’ll have some extra left over. We ended up having just enough to make some paneer/aloo paratha (which is a paneer-potato stuffed flatbread). I will post the recipe for the paratha later (it is SO much fun to make)!
Malai Kofta is traditionally served either over rice or with naan (but I love to have both).
Vegetarian Malai Kofta
(makes about 8 servings, which can be easily frozen for later consumption)
for the kofta
5 butter ball potatoes
2 cups crumbled paneer
5 tablespoons minced cilantro (hara dhania)
1 yellow chile
1 anaheim pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin (jeera)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
for the kofta batter
8 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons tipo 00 flour (AP works fine as well)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
safflower oil for sautéing
for the sauce
4 tomatoes (medium-sized)
2 tablespoons ginger
1 poblano pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches asafetida (you can find this at Whole Foods)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coriander powder (I accidentally put in whole coriander seeds- do not make this mistake)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons AP flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
5 tablespoons minced cilantro
First, make the kofta. Dice the potatoes and boil them in salted water until a fork slides easily straight through them.
Mash the potatoes in a large bowl, and add the crumbled paneer.
Mix everything together thoroughly until it forms a kind of mash.
Now, take the mixture (about two tablespoons at a time) and roll it into balls.
Next, prepare the batter. Whisk together the water, flour, black pepper, and salt. Pour the oil into a skillet until it is about an inch and heat it on medium-high. Taking your time, dip each ball in the batter and fry them in the pan on both sides- just lightly. They should be a golden brown and look very crisp and delicious! [Note: if you are planning to freeze some of these, you should not fry or batter them. Instead, freeze them without the batter and make more batter for the next time you cook the dish. The sauce can be frozen separately and then combined with the koftas upon reheating.]
Now, set the koftas aside to drain on a paper towel and get to work on the sauce!
Dice the tomatoes, and shred the ginger.
Mince the poblano pepper. Combine the tomatoes, the ginger, and the pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture has a soupy or salsa-y consistency. Set this aside.
Heat up the olive oil in a skillet, and add the asafetida and cumin. To this, add the tomato puree and coriander powder, mixing everything together.
Shred the turmeric on a cheese grater (be careful with this stuff- it can stain hands, counters, and cutting boards!).
Add the turmeric, and red chili powder to the pan. Let everything simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
While the tomato mixture simmers, combine the flour and heavy whipping cream in a bowl. After the tomatoes start reducing, add the cream to the mixture along with the salt, and one cup of water. Let this cook down, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.
Finally, add in the garam masala. Chop the cilantro and add in 4 tablespoons of it (leaving some for a garnish).
Let everything simmer together for a few minutes before adding in the koftas.
The koftas can cook in the gravy for a few minutes, but they are very soft and will break down after soaking up the sauce, so it’s best to serve the dish soon after placing them into the pan.
Serve sauce and koftas over rice or with naan and enjoy!