Malai kofta recipe with video & step by step photos. Originally Koftas are meatballs dunked in delicious gravy or served as kababs. In India the vegetarian version of koftas are quite popular. These are made either with Paneer & potato or with veggies like bottle gourd, mixed vegetables or raw banana. Koftas are served with a rich, delicious and creamy gravy to which malai (cream) has been added.
If you are new to Indian cuisine these faqs may help you to understand more about this dish.
What is malai kofta?
Malai kofta is a popular Indian vegetarian dish made of potato & paneer balls dunked in smooth, rich & creamy gravy. Malai translates to cream and kofta to fried balls. So malai kofta literally translates to koftas dunked in creamy sauce or gravy,
There are various versions of making this dish. The recipe of malai kofta that is shared here is not mughalai malai kofta which is served in white gravy.
We at home do not prefer mughalai white gravy for any recipe, just a personal choice. So whenever I make kofta recipe, I follow the one shared here.
This recipe takes some time to prepare but the end results are great and worth the effort.
How to make paneer kofta?
To make the koftas, Firstly mash together paneer, boiled potato, salt, herbs & spice powders. Then to absorb the excess moisture sprinkle some corn flour. Then bind the mixture together to a ball and then make small paneer koftas.
These are then deep fried and then added to the creamy onion tomato based gravy.
Tips to make best malai kofta
1.Cornflour or corn starch is one of the key ingredient used to bind the kofta mixture well. It also gives a firm texture. Without corn flour, the koftas will turn out very soft inside and get mushy very quickly after they are added to the gravy. So do not skip this.
2.The paneer kofta I have shown in this post is made without stuffing. I have just added some raisins & cashews to the mixture. You can also use the same to stuff inside the kofta. Basically I find no difference in the taste.
3.The malai kofta gravy shared here is one of the best you can make at home. The taste of the gravy is well balanced with a natural sweetness that comes from onions. Slight tang that comes from tomatoes.
Cashews add a creamy texture without the need of too much cream in the dish. Any changes to the given quantities will alter the taste of the malai kofta curry.
Most times I go the easiest way and serve malai kofta with plain basmati rice cooked with some whole spices & a tbsp of ghee. However it can also be served with Jeera rice, ghee rice, pulao or plain Paratha or naan.
Since malai kofta is on the heavier side, plain basmati rice goes very well.
Malai kofta recipe
Malai kofta recipe | How to make malai kofta
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
For malai kofta
- 1 heaped cup paneer crumbled (about 150 grams)
- 1 heaped cup potato boiled & crumbled (about 2 large)
- 2½ tablespoons corn flour (corn starch)
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves chopped finely
- Salt as needed
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoons cashews chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoons raisins (optional)
- Oil for deep frying
ingredients for gravy
- 1 cup onions cubed (substitute with tomatoes)
- 1 ½ cup tomatoes cubed
- 15 cashew nuts
- 1 inch cinnamon stick or dalchini (I used real cinnamon so used a bit more)
- 4 cloves or laung
- 6 green cardamoms or elaichi
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 bay leaf or tej patta (optional)
- 1 inch cinnamon stick or dalchini
- 2 cardamoms or elaichi
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (use as needed)
- ¾ to 1¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder or daniya powder
- Salt as needed
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup water (use more if needed)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon kasuri methi or fenugreek leaves
- 3 to 4 tablespoons cream (fresh cream or homemade malai, blend & use)
How to make the recipe
Preparation for malai kofta recipe
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, cashews and onions.
- Saute until onions turn transparent or golden.
- Next add tomatoes & saute until they turn soft and mushy. or You can also pour half cup water & boil all the ingredients until soft.
- Turn off the stove and cool completely. Blend this to a smooth puree.
Making gravy or curry for malai kofta
- Heat a pan with oil. Add bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamoms. Saute for a minute.
- Add ginger garlic paste and saute on a low heat till the raw smell goes away. This takes about 2 to 3 mins.
- Quickly stir in chili powder, garam masala, salt and sugar.
- Pour the onion tomato puree. Mix it well.
- Saute for 3 to 4 mins for the raw smell of chili powder to go away.
- Cook covered until the mixture thickens for about 3 to 5 mins.
- Pour water to make a gravy. Cook covered until the gravy thickens and traces of oil are seen on top. The raw smell of the ingredients should have gone.
- Add kasuri methi and check for salt and spice.
- Regulate the flame to low and add cream. Stir and turn off the heat. Set this aside.
How to make malai kofta
- To make malai kofta, boil potatoes until just done and not mushy.
- Crumble them and add to a mixing bowl along with crumbled paneer, ginger paste, corn flour, salt, garam masala and chopped coriander leaves.
- Also add raisins and cashews. Or you can stuff them in the koftas.
- Mix everything well and divide the dough to 8 equal parts. Roll them to balls.
- If you prefer, you can also flatten each ball. Place the cashews and raisins in the center and seal.
- Heat oil in a kadai for deep frying. Check if the oil is hot enough by sliding in a small portion of the malai kofta mixture.
- It has to rise without browning a lot. This is the right temperature.
- Wait for the oil to heat up and then slide 1 kofta ball to ensure they don't disintegrate.
- If the ball does not disintegrate or disperse in oil, then go ahead.
- Slide the koftas one by one gently to the hot oil.
- Deep fry on a medium flame until crisp and golden. Remove them to a steel colander or plate.
Assembling malai kofta
- Cool the gravy slightly. Transfer it to a serving dish.
- Cool the malai koftas slightly. Place them in the gravy and pour 1 tbsp of cream.
- Garnish malai kofta with coriander leaves if desired.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
How to make malai kofta – with step by step photos
1. Heat a pan or pot with 1 tbsp oil. Add onions, cashews, cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Saute them until the onions turn light golden or transparent. Then add tomatoes and saute until they turn soft. You can also cover and cook.
You can also add all the ingredients to a pan along with half cup water. Cover and boil until tomatoes turn soft.
2. Cool completely. Add them to a blender. Make a smooth puree.
3. Heat a pan with oil and saute bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamoms for a minute. Add ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes away.
4. Next quickly stir in chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and sugar. Then pour the tomato onion puree. I did the other way here poured the puree first and then added the spice powders.
5. Mix everything well and saute for 3 to 4 mins. You don’t need to saute until the mixture leaves the pan. The raw smell of onions and tomatoes goes away since they are boiled first. Then used here.
6. Cook covered for 3 to 5 mins.
Making gravy for kofta
7. Pour water and mix well.
8. Cook covered until the gravy thickens and traces of oil are seen.
9. Add kasuri methi and check salt and spice.
10. Lower the flame. Pour cream and mix well. Gravy is ready. Set this aside.
How to make kofta
1. Boil potatoes until just done but not mushy. I usually boil them in a steamer or pressure cooker for 2 whistles with little water. Cool them completely and crumble.
2. To a mixing bowl add crumbled potatoes, crumbled paneer, corn flour, ginger, garam masala, green chili, coriander leaves and salt.
3. Add cashews and raisins. You can also stuff them in the balls later.
4. Mix the ingredients and divide the mixture to 8 parts. Make them to smooth balls. Also check if there is enough salt and spice. You can add a bit more if needed.
5. Heat oil in a kadai or fry pan. Check if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small portion of the mixture in hot oil. The ball has to rise. If the oil is not hot enough, the balls will sink in the oil, may disperse and stick up to the kadai.
6. Once the oil is hot, regulate the flame to medium heat. Slide in 1 ball to check the temperature and binding. If all goes well then slide the rest of the kofta balls and fry till golden and crisp.
7. Drain them on a kitchen tissue.
How to make malai kofta gravy – Assembling
1. Transfer the gravy to a deep dish.
2. Just before serving place the koftas in the gravy otherwise they will not remain crispy.
3. Garnish with cream and with coriander leaves if desired.