Saturday, 23 February 2013

Malai Kofta/ Fried Cottage Cheese Balls in a Creamy Gravy

And finally my 100th post. It has taken me a long time to reach here but the journey sure was thrilling.

There is an ongoing myth that vegetarian menus cannot be as extravagant and lavish as the non-vegetarian menus; and I do call it a myth. There are a myriad of options that can be dished out as exuberantly as its non-vegetarian counterparts.;and the first dish that comes to my mind is the Malai Kofta. 

Malai Kofta is a cream based gravy in which fried cottage cheese balls are immersed in. The origins of Malai Kofta can be traced back to Persian cuisine where the koftas are usually prepared with ground meat; this later became a part of the Mughlai cuisine in the Indian subcontinent. With the vegetarian menu being more prevalent here, the meat in the koftas were soon replaced with paneer / cottage cheese.
The recipe here is not mine or my family's to claim. It belongs to a Gujarati friend I had years back, with whom I have no contact now.; but a sweet little lady, who was so passionate about what she made in the kitchen and was equally happy to share her recipes with me. Her recipe calls for cashew nut which I have successfully replaced with almond; but ask me which is the more tastier and I still vote for cashews in the gravy. I have also opted for an easier style of preparing the gravy by stir-frying the onion in oil first before grinding it to a paste. Also the kofta traditionally have a spicy mixture with raisins stuffed in the centre but I have omitted the raisins and just mixed the spicy mixture into grated paneer/ cottage cheese and then prepared them into balls. It shows my patience in the kitchen - nil !

Strongly recommend reading the last para (above) to get more details on the recipe
Serves: 12 (2 koftas each)
Preparation Time: 1 hr
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
For Koftas (makes roughly 24 balls, 1 tbsp each)
  • 500g paneer / hung cottage cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 - 2 medium sized green chilly, minced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 1/2 tsp chilly powder
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour + extra to coat koftas
  • 1 tbsp oil / ghee 
  • Oil for deep-frying koftas
For creamy gravy
  • 2 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 4 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 4 large green chilly, minced
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 100g cashew nut soaked in water/ store-bought almond meal (50g cashew soaked in water + 50g almond meal)
  • 5 x 1 inch stick cinnamon
  • 8 cloves
  • 3 bay leaf
  • 8 cardamom
  • 1 large tomato, pureed
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilly powder
  • 1 pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • salt to taste
  • 4 tbsp oil/ ghee
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish
For Kofta
1. Heat oil/ ghee in a pan. Add onion and green chilly and stir till onions become soft and start to change colour. Add carrot and green peas with salt to taste and continue to stir until cooked. Add chilly powder, garam masala and nutmeg powder. Stir through for a few seconds. Let it cool.
2. Mix the onion mixture with coriander leaves, grated paneer, mashed potatoes and plain flour and mix well. Shape them into balls of 1 tbsp each. Coat with plain flour. (If the cheese ball mixture is too wet to shape into balls, feel free to add a little more plain flour to the mixture till it is dry enough to be shaped into balls).
3. Deep fry in hot oil until the balls are light brown in colour. Do not leave the cheese balls in oil for too long because it will start to melt and fall apart.

For the gravy
1. Heat 2 tbsp oil/ ghee in a pan. Stir ginger, garlic and green chilly until fragrant. Add onion and salt and stir fry until it becomes soft and starts to change colour. Add kasuri methi and remove from flame. Grind to a fine paste with 1/2 cup of water.
2. Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Let it cool. Add together with poppy seeds and soaked cashew nut or almond meal and 1/4 cup of water to make a thick paste.
3. Mix onion paste and nut paste and set aside.
4. Heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan. Add whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom) and stir until fragrant (just a few seconds). Add tomato puree and chilly powder and bring it to boil. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it loses its rawness. Then add 1 cup of water and bring to boil. Add the onion-nut paste mixture, garam masala, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Mix well. Add milk and cream and mix well. As soon as it begins to boil remove from heat.

To serve
Place koftas on to a deep serving dish and top with creamy gravy. Garnish with coriander leaves. Gravy should be poured onto koftas only when it is time to serve; otherwise they absorb moisture and becomes very mushy.

Serve hot with ghee rice/ Indian flat-breads.


  1. Wow very tempting malai kofta. U spend this much time in the kitchen and still not happy?

  2. Wow...congrats for your 100th post. Malai kofta looks absolutely delicious... :-)

  3. Congrats for 100th post. You prepared with lot of patience. Looks great.

  4. Loved the last click dear,would love to pop it in my mouth..yummy creamy & delicious,Great for parties!!
    Congrats on your milestone,looking forward to many interesting recipes :)

  5. lovely click and malai kofta's looka absolutely delicious :)

  6. Nice and delicious preparation and love it..

  7. Yummy dish! Wonderful snaps! I am your new follower! Do visit follow my blog at -

  8. Ek dam masth hi. I luv the koftas they look so so tempting in the creamy gravy.

  9. Congrats on your 100th post. May you achieve many more such milestones.

  10. congrats on your 100 th post...curry is so tempting...koftha kandittu sarikkum kothivarunnu :)

  11. CONGRATS on ur 100th post dear and wish u many many more.
    Malai kofta looks super tempting, making me drool.
    Have a wonderful day ♥

  12. congrats on u r 100th post,it is creamy,rich and yummy gravy.tempting presentaion.

  13. Congrats on your 100th post.curry is looking very creamy and it.

  14. panner kofta looks very yummy and flavourful...

  15. Congrats on your 100th post. love malai koftas and these look too good. hey, last pic is very good. tempting me again....ha.

  16. Koftas look so perfect and the curry looks so yummilicious dear :) Well made!!

  17. congrats on your 100th post. tempting koftas dear...nice clicks.

  18. congrats on ur 100th post dear... lovely looking koftas, well made and even more well clicked!!! i was searching to address u by name but then i cannot find any... :)

  19. Hey congrats on your 100th post.Still more to go.

  20. congrats on your 100th post...Koftas looks super. Awesome... Loved it..

  21. It looks life a five star restaurant recipe, you nailed it!!
    Awesome picture too!!

  22. Congratulations dear on your 100th post. That looks so royal, rich koftas & creamy curry. Very tempting clicks!

  23. Congrats on your 100th post dear..tempting and rich dish.

  24. Congrats on the 100th post! Love the curry. So rich and tempting :)

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