Malai Kofta is a delicious rich creamy dish suitable for any special occasion. Koftas are vegetarian alternative for meat balls and are made with paneer, veggies and a blend of various spices. These veggie balls are deep fried and then later added to a rich tomato cashew sauce. I should rather call Malai Kofta as the queen of vegetarian dishes because once you have experienced the flavours of the veggie balls dipped in mildly spicy creamy sauce(Malai), you will fall head over heels in love with this dish.
As a child I never knew the ingredients of Kofta and always thought it was made of Paneer and spices. I grew up with this belief and never bothered to check into more details until I ventured into making this dish. The making of Koftas can be quite tricky if you aren't aware of few useful tips that I have mentioned below, and I'm thankful to Vahchef's video for helping me make perfect Koftas.
The important binding agent of Kofta is potato. The ingredients of Kofta shouldnt be messed up else your Koftas wouldnt hold together while deep frying and would break apart/crumble. Grated paneer in Koftas when deep fried oozes out water and forms the main reason for Koftas breaking apart while deep frying and hence potato is used to bind the mixture. Also before adding cooked veggies to the Kofta mix, squeeze off excess water. You may used the water drained from veggies for the sauce preparation. Also after cooking potatoes, immediately drain off excess water, else the potatoes would soak up moisture and your Koftas wouldn't turn out good.
For health reasons, you may even opt for baking the Koftas rather than deep frying. Since I haven't done it I'm not familiar with the baking temperature and time. In case your koftas don't hold together while frying you may add bread crumbs.
Paneer - 7 oz(198 gms approx/1 cup) grated
Cooked Potato - 200 gms(1 cup approx)
A mixture of cooked vegetables- 1/2 cup(I used a mixture of frozen veggies)
Chilly Powder - 3/4 tsp(or more)
Cumin Powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala/Chicken masala - 1 tsp
Chaat masala - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Few Cilantro leaves chopped
All purpose flour(Maida) for dusting- 2 tbsp or more
For the sauce/gravy:
White Onion - 1 chopped
Bay Leaves - 2
Tomatoes - 2 pureed
Ginger Garlic paste - 2 tsp
Chilly Powder - 1 tsp(adjust according to your taste buds)
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 3/4 tsp
Garam masala - 3/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Cashews - 2 tbsp
Kasoori methi(Dried fenugreek leaves) - Few crushed
Milk - 1/2 cup
Tomato Ketchup - 1 tbsp
Cilantro for garnish
Oil/Butter for cooking
To Dry Roast:
Cinnamon stick - 1, 2.5" long
Cloves - 6
Cardamom seeds - 1/4 tsp
Star anise - 1
- With a potato masher, mash the cooked potato and knead it to a smooth paste without any lumps.
- Add grated paneer and mix well.
- Squeeze out water from cooked vegetables. You may use the squeezed out water for making sauce later.
- Add the veggies to the above paneer potato mixture. Mix well.
- In a small pan heat chilly powder, cumin powder, garam masala and chaat masala over low heat. Cook till raw smell of spices go. Do not allow the spices to burn.
- Add the heated spices to the above mix along with salt and chopped cilantro. Mix everything well.
- Divide the mixture into equal balls, dip each in maida(all purpose flour) and deep fry till it attains a golden brown colour.
- In case your koftas break on deep frying, you may add bread crumbs to the kofta mixture to absorb excess moisture, then make balls, roll in maida and deep fry.
For the sauce:
- Dry roast the ingredients mentioned under Dry Roast till colour changes and you get the aroma of spices.
- Cool and grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
- Grind cashews to a paste adding enough water. Keep aside.
- Heat oil/butter in a pan and saute onions till medium brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste and saute till raw smell goes.
- Cool and grind to a paste. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and saute bay leaves.
- Add onion paste, ground spices and saute well for some time.
- Add tomato puree and cook for few minutes.
- Add chilly powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Cook till raw smell of spices go.
- Add crushed kasoori methi and mix well.
- Add cashew paste and milk. You may add additional water if you wish.
- Cook on low heat till gravy attains a creamy consistency. It shouldn't be too thick.
- Add tomato ketchup and mix well.
- Garnish with cilantro, add the koftas, mix gently and remove from heat.
- Allow the dish to rest for few hours before serving to allow the koftas to absorb and blend with the sauce.
- Serve hot with Chapati/Roti/Naan.
Other Vegetarian Dishes: