Malai kofta consists of fried paneer and potato dumplings served in a spicy, creamy and mildly sweet sauce. Perfect served with naan or rice.
If you’ve never had this, you’re seriously missing out. Malai kofta is an incredibly popular Indian dish that will be served in a lot of restaurants, and commonly at weddings too. It’s a rich and creamy one, filled with flavour and depth that is often served alongside rice or naan.
Tap the image below for my ultimate naan recipe!
Traditionally the kofta are made with paneer and potatoes and sometimes stuffed with nuts and raisins. I’m not particularly keen on the nuts and raisins and have hence omitted them from my recipe. The kofta are also normally deep fried – and admittedly this does lend the best results. However I’ve air fried these and they are still crisp and delicious. For these you will need:
- Paneer – which will be soaked in boiling water. This will allow it to soften up and almost replicate the texture of fresh paneer. By doing so this will soften up your kofta and add a little bit of essential moisture.
- Boiled potatoes – these will need to be peeled and boiled/steamed. Pass them through a potato ricer or grate them. This will also help to bind and lighten the kofta further
- Courgette – not a usual ingredient but it helps to soften and lighten the kofta as well
- Garam masala – this is already a mix of ground roasted whole spices and will add depth to your kofta
- Turmeric and Kashmiri chilli powder – for colour and flavour, substitute the chilli powder for paprika if it’s not available
- Gram flour – this will help to bind and crisp up. You can sub this for cornflour
This creamy and rich sauce should be a mix of flavours. It should be spicy and sweet, and it has to be creamy. It needs to be packing with flavour and have a vibrant orange colour. This sauce has to be smooth, and for that you’ll need a powerful blender and a sieve. I can’t stress enough the importance of sieving your sauce at the end if you want that elegant restaurant finish.
Some of the essential ingredients:
- Browned onions – white onion cooked low and slow till browned and caramelised. Thus producing a sweet and rich flavour
- Cashews – this will provide the creaminess and richness as I don’t use any additional cream. Soaked cashews blitzed with water at the end can form a ‘cashew cream’ for garnishing if desired
- Whole spices- for tempering and depth
- Ground spices – provides further flavouring
- Jaggery or sugar – to provide sweetness – because we all need a little balance, right? This is only a small amount but essential to balance the spice and acidity
The kofta are easy to adapt and hugely versatile. You can omit the courgette if you wish, and add in some sweetcorn or grated carrots. You can even add in roasted beetroot that’s been pureed. All of these work incredibly well so feel free to get creative.
You can add regular dairy cream to the malai kofta if you wish to make it even more rich. Personally I don’t think it needs it, but feel free.
If you want to veganise the kofta – substitute the paneer for tofu, no need to soak the tofu in boiling water. Use a medium/firm tofu and press between paper towels and a weight to drain some excess moisture. You may need extra gram flour to bind this.
Paneer Kofta in Malai Sauce
- 3 tbsp oil/ghee
- 1 white onion
- 10 cashews
- 1 black cardamom
- 6 green cardamom crushed open
- 2 cm cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 2 cm piece of ginger grated
- 1 red chilli
- 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder/paprika
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Pinch of kasuri methi
- 2 cm piece of jaggery or 2tsp sugar
- 1+1/2 tsp salt
- 250 g paneer soaked in boiling water, then crumbled
- 1+1/2 large potatoes peeled and boiled then grated
- 1/3 courgette grated then squeeze out the water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Pinch of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp gram flour
- Slice onion and sauté in 1tbsp of oil until browned on a medium heat, will take ~15-20mins, then transfer to a bowl
- Add remaining 2tbsp of oil and temper the cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and cashews for 30s until fragrant
- Add in your browned onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and sauté
- Add the tin of tomatoes followed by the ground spices, jaggery, and the kasuri methi and allow to simmer on low heat for 10 mins partially covered
- Let this cool, remove the whole spices (I only bother with the black cardamom and cinnamon) and blend till completely smooth. Add water to help the blender if required
- IMPORTANT – sieve your sauce for a smooth finish, and simmer until desired consistency.
- Combine all the ingredients and form even sized balls
- Air fry at 190 celcius for 15-20 mins or deep fry. Baking these dries them out so I’d advise against.
- Garnished with coriander and cashew cream.