Malai Kofta is an Indian dish made from potato and paneer kofta, or small fried balls sometimes likened to fried dumplings. The koftas are covered with a creamy curry sauce made from onions and tomatoes. Malai Kofta is an entirely vegetarian dish and is often served with naan or basmati rice.
Malai Kofta is known for being a heavy but delicious dish and is served in restaurants more than it is made at home. Many modern versions of the dish are attributed to the Punjab region of India, but there still exist two versions of this dish today.
The Punjabi version has a spicy red gravy, the spices coming from the curry seasonings and chili pepper used to make it. The Mughali version, on the other hand, is more savory, made with more aromatic seasonings than spicy ones. Regardless of which kind you might try, this is a great party food to create in bulk and serve as hor d’oeuvre.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Malai Kafta, meaning heavy cream balls, describes the main component of this dish. This name allows room for interpretation, however, and there are variations in the recipe according to its region. Even between the Punjabi and Mughlai versions of this dish, there will be different takes on the recipe according to the restaurants and cook.
The exact origins of the dish are still being contested, though two theories continue to stand out from the rest. One school of thought claims that kofta and older versions of the modern Malai Kofta recipe originated during the Mughal Empire which lasted from the 16th to the 18th century. The other believes kofta are much older, claiming to have evidence of kofta first appearing in cookbooks dating as far back as the 1200s.
Indian Malai Kofta Recipe
Malai Kofta is an Indian dish made from potato and paneer kofta, or small fried balls sometimes likened to fried dumplings.
- Potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed - 3
- Cooking Oil
- Paneer, crumbled - 1.5 cup
- Corn starch - 5
- Raisins - 1 tbsp
- Cashews, chopped - 2 tbsp
- Water - ⅔ cup
- Red onion, chopped - 2
- Garlic - 3 cloves
- Ginger - 2 tbsp
- Roma tomatoes, chopped - 5
- Cashews - 10
For the curry:
- Oil - 2 tbsp
- Butter - 3 tbsp
- Bay leaf - 1
- Cinnamon stick -1
- Cloves - 4
- Cardamom - 3
- Salt - 1 tsp
- Red chili powder - 1 ½ tsp
- Coriander powder - 1 ½ tsp
- Water - as needed
- Garam masala - 1 tsp
- Malai - ½ cup
- Create the dough for the kafta. In a large bowl, combine paneer, potatoes, cornstarch, garam masala, cashews, and salt. Use your hands to mix together until it creates a cohesive dough.
- Before you form the bowls, begin to heat your frying oil. In a pan, fill with a layer of oil about 1 inch deep. Turn to medium-high heat.
- Divide the dough into 18 parts and use your hands to form balls. Roll them between your palms to ensure a smooth and even shape.
- Once the oil is hot enough, begin to gently lower the kofta into the oil, a few at a time. Be careful to avoid overcrowding.
- As they are frying, continue to rotate them so that all sides will fry. They are ready when they are a golden brown color.
- Remove using a slotted spoon and let the oil drain for a few seconds. Place onto a paper-towel-lined plate or onto a rack.
- Make your sauce. Heat a pan to medium and put onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, cashew, and water into the pan.
- Leave the mix to simmer for 16-18 minutes, until the onions are translucent and soft. Remove from heat once done.
- After letting the mixture cool for 1-2 minutes, place it into a food processor and blend it into a puree.
- Back on the stove, heat a pan on medium and add oil and butter.
- Once the butter melts, add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, and cinnamon. Sautee these for one minute until they are aromatic.
- In the same pan, pour in the puree and mix together. Cook until the sauce begins to thicken, around 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- After 5 minutes, add red chili and coriander power, then stir and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Add in your water and salt. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes, lowering the heat if need be.
- Add garam masala and heavy cream. Stir well and simmer for 1-2 more minutes.
- Add the koftas into the sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 386Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 740mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g
Nutrition is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. It is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimation.