Saturday, June 8, 2013

Recipe of the month: Malai Kofta

I just got back from Bali after a super amazing family vacation with my husband and in-laws. This was my second time in Bali and I fell in love with it all over again. Will be sharing some pictures of our trip in a subsequent post. In the meantime, here is another post that I've conveniently pulled out of my drafts folder :)

A few words on Malai Kofta - malai means cream and kofta are fried dumpling balls. This is a classic North Indian dish originating from Mughlai cuisine, an insanely popular curry and a party-favorite. My version of Malai Kofta has already made a special guest appearance on my blog (in my last post alongside naan) but today it is the one and only star of the show!

There are a few particular North-Indian curries that would make their way into my top 5 list (yes I have a list!) - Malai Kofta, Dum Aloo, Palak Paneer, Dal Makhni & Egg Curry (in no particular order). For me, as long as I know how to make these select few well, I wouldn't be all too concerned about not being able to make any other varieties of curries! Me and hubby have a particularly soft spot for Malai Kofta. You have deep fried paneer (cottage cheese) and vegetable dumplings in a rich and creamy tomato-onion sauce. What's not to like?! When served alongside roti, naan or jeera rice, the resulting combination will transport you to heaven (eat too much of it and you probably really will end up there!). I say that because this rich, calorie-ridden dish is an indulgence of royal proportions! I make this dish only on special occasions or once in a blue moon which isn't so bad actually....makes me and hubby look forward to eating it all the more!

Having eaten authentic Malai Kofta numerous times during my undergraduate days, I am quite particular about how it should be made. To me good Malai Kofta has a gravy that is rich, luscious, creamy, mildly sweet, not very tangy and koftas that are a deep brown with the signature crispy fried texture, packed full of flavor and a melt-in-your-mouth quality. I particularly love the taste of the cashews and raisins inside the kofta. In general, I like Malai Kofta with a subtle hint of sweetness but not when it is overtly sweet. Also, no baked or shallow-fried koftas for me thank you very much. I'd rather skip eating a dish altogether than try and put a healthy spin on it thereby converting it into a shadow of its former self. I believe that some dishes don't deserve to be messed with and this is one of them :)

This recipe is a mish-mash of various recipes so I cannot cite a single source for it. As for me, I can only take credit for trying it out more than once and making minor changes and adaptations here and there to give you this final version. I am satisfied with it and I hope you will be too!

Malai Kofta

Preparation time: 45 min to 1 hr
Serves: 4-5
Recipe category: Side dish/North Indian
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: Various websites and blogs


For the koftas:

3 large cooked, peeled & mashed potatoes (preferably Russet potatoes)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 cup cooked peas
100 gm cottage cheese/paneer, grated or made crumbly in the food processor
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped 
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander/dhania powder
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera powder
1/2 tsp chaat masala
2 tbsp broken cashews
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp rice flour
2 slices of fresh bread, ground into breadcrumbs
Salt to taste (~ 1 tsp)
Oil to deep fry

For the gravy:

3 cardamom pods
2 large red onions, roughly chopped
1 large ripe tomato, roughly chopped 
4-5 garlic pods, roughly chopped
A handful of cashewnuts, slit vertically
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander/dhania powder
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
Salt to taste (~ 1.5 tsp)
1 tsp sugar
1 cup whole milk
3 tbsp fresh cream
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tbsp ghee


For the kofta:

1. Cook the potatoes until well done. Keep aside until they are cool and all the moisture has evaporated. This step is important because you don't want the mixture to get soggy. Peel and mash the potatoes until they are free of lumps.

2. In a bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, grated carrot, cooked peas, cumin powder, coriander powder, chaat masala, red chilli powder, salt, rice flour, fresh bread crumbs, grated paneer, chopped cashews, raisins and chopped fresh coriander leaves. It is important to ensure that the mixture is as dry as possible.

3. Using dry hands, make lemon size balls out of the mixture.

4. Heat oil on medium to high heat. Once the oil is hot, deep fry the koftas 2 or 3 at a time until deep brown. If you put in more than that, the temperature of the oil may drop drastically and your koftas can break apart in the oil.

5. Repeat the process, fry all the koftas, drain on absorbent paper towels and keep aside until later.

For the gravy:

1. Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a deep bottom vessel, add in the crushed cardamom pods and fry till aromatic.

2. Add in the chopped onions and slit cashews and fry till golden. Then add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Finally put int the chopped tomatoes and fry till soft and pulpy. Switch off the flame and let this mixture cool down.

3. Add a 1/2 cup of water and grind in a blender until it reaches the consistency of a smooth paste.

4. Now heat another 1 tbsp of ghee in the same vessel and cook the ground paste on low-medium flame. 

5. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder, salt and sugar.

6. Cook until you can just start to see the oil separating from the gravy.

7. Add the milk and cream and the other half of the grated paneer and simmer until the desired consistency is reached.

8. Sprinkle the curry with kasoori methi and give it a mix.

9. Add in the koftas gently so as to not break them. Give everything a gently mix so that the koftas are incorporated into the gravy. Or for greater effect, you can even drop the koftas in just before serving (like how is shown in the pics). 

10. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and a dollop of cream.

11. Rich and creamy Malai Kofta is ready to serve. Pairs well with roti, naan or jeera-rice.

  • Microwaving the potatoes with a light sprinkling of water is a good way to cook them without resulting in excess moisture in the potatoes
  • The addition of the rice flour in the kofta mixture is for crispiness and the fresh bread crumbs is to soak up any moisture and make the mixture dry
  • Keep in mind that the gravy tends to thicken further after you add in the koftas so don't make the consistency too thick beforehand. If the consistency of the gravy is too thick, dilute it with milk and not water.
  • Crush and rub the kasoori methi between the palms of your hands to intensify its flavor



  1. Ahhh..... this post is making me crave for some of that malai kofta and a naan right now!! Beautifully made...

  2. Hi Megha. Thanks for following my blog :) yes, we do share a common love for traveling and food. Also , we share the same hometown, I'm from Karnataka too ( Bangalore ). Great to have found your blog. Looking forward to reading more :)

    Keep writing .

  3. Your recipes are wonderful. I would love for you to share them with us at is a new food sharing site, we're no photography snobs, we're just foodies and we actually try hard to promote your pictures. At all your food pictures will get accepted so I really hope you come and join us.

  4. Hi! Found this recipe through It was such an instant hit with family the first time I made it.. It now gets requested every week! I keep the gravy base the same as yours and add different veggie combinations or peas + paneer. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  5. Hey thanks so much for the feedback. Glad your family liked it :)


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