Malai Kofta

Creamy, rich and indulgent, this recipe makes restaurant style Malai Kofta at home! Deep fried balls made of potato and paneer are served with a creamy tomato based gravy/curry! So good with naan.
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Malai Kofta needs no introduction. Deep fried balls (koftas) made with potato and paneer are dunked in a creamy spiced velvety smooth curry.

It’s the ultimate indulgence and pairs beautifully with garlic naan.

a copper serving ware with kofta (balls) placed on top of a orange color creamy looking gravy/curry and garnished with cilantro with a naan placed in the background

Growing up in India in the 80s and 90s, we hardly ate out.

And a few times that we did, we always went to Indian restaurants. That time the other cuisines weren’t as popular back home like they are now.

I remember whenever we would go out, we would always order either of these 2 dishes- one was dal makhani and other was malai kofta.

Probably because these rich and creamy dishes were not made at home often, maybe once or twice a year for special occasions.

So they always had a special place in my heart. I have already shared the dal makhani recipe (which you guys love)!

And today, I am sharing my version of Malai Kofta with you guys.

What is Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta is a very popular Indian vegetarian dish where balls (kofta) made of potato and paneer are deep fried and served with a creamy and spiced tomato based curry.

The literal translation of this dish is malai=creamy/buttery and kofta=spiced balls (in this case made of potatoes and paneer).

There are two parts to this dish-

The Kofta: any round ball made of meats and veggies is referred to as kofta in several Asian countries.

You can say they are like meatballs. In India, a lot of koftas are made with vegetables and spices and deep fried.

The kofta in this malai kofta is made with paneer, potato, ginger, cilantro, some nuts and raisins. I also add some cardamom and white pepper powder to enhance the flavor of the kofta.

One other thing which is added to the kofta here is cornstarch. It binds the koftas so that they don’t disintegrate in the hot oil.

The Gravy/Curry: the koftas are served with a creamy gravy which forms the base of this dish.

It is made with onion, tomatoes, cashews, ginger, garlic and a lot of whole spices.

The gravy is silky smooth, lightly sweetened and spiced mainly with whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves etc.

Cream and butter are added to make it rich and creamy.

Tips to make Restaurant Style Malai Kofta

So, if you have always wondered how to make restaurant style malai kofta at home, then I have got you covered with these tips.

Strain the puree using a strainer so that the gravy is silky smooth: once the onion, tomatoes and whole spices are cooked, you have to grind them to a paste.

However, even after grinding the gravy will not be super smooth, so it’s important to pass the puree through a strainer.

That will make it silky smooth and that’s what you need for this recipe.

Use homemade paneer in the kofta if possible: the fresh homemade paneer makes them taste much better.

Do not add too much cornstarch to the kofta: For this malai kofta recipe, I added have added 1.5 tablespoons of cornstarch and that was enough to just bind the koftas together.

If you add too much of the cornstarch, it does interfere with the taste and flavor of the kofta.

a spoon breaking a kofta placed on a creamy curry served in a copper serving dish with a naan placed in the background

Fry koftas on medium high heat: these kofta need to carefully handled. Make sure the oil in the kadai/wok is hot enough. If not, the koftas can break when dropped into oil.

They can also stick to the bottom of the pan while frying. So, make sure the oil is hot before you drop the koftas in oil.

Sprinkle cardamom powder on top of the gravy once it’s cooked: just a sprinkle of cardamom powder on top really adds to the flavor.

Also drizzle some cream before serving the dish.

Don’t cut down on the fat: if you want to make restaurant style malai kofta, then you need to use fat in form of butter and cream. They add to the flavor and richness of the dish. I like using amul butter for extra flavor.

Serving Suggestions

This malai kofta tastes best with some homemade naan.

It also pairs well with jeera rice.

Can you make the Malai Kofta Vegan?

I haven’t tried myself but I can see that it should work.

Replace the paneer in the kofta with tofu. Grate the tofu and then use in the recipe.

Use vegan butter in place of dairy butter and you can either skip the cream or use coconut milk or add some cashew cream.

Let’s see how we make it!

Method

Make the gravy/curry 

1- Heat a pot/pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and then add the bay leaf, cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and shahi jeera.

2- Let the spices sizzle for few seconds and then add the chopped garlic, ginger, green chili and onion.

Saute for around 2 minutes, do not brown the onion.

3- Then add the tomatoes along with cashews.

4- Add 2 cups water and stir.

step by step picture collage of making malai kofta at home

5- Cover the pot with a lid and cook for around 10 to 12 minutes until tomatoes soften.

6- Let it cool down down a bit (around 15 minutes, if you blend it while it’s hot it might blow off from the blender), then discard the bay leaf and transfer mixture to a blender.

Blend to a smooth paste.

7- Use a strainer and strain the puree into another bowl. This makes sure the gravy is really smooth.

8- Put the same pan on medium heat again. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon oil. Let the butter melt.

step by step picture collage of making malai kofta at home

9- Add in the pureed gravy and cook for 2 minutes.

10- Then add the coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder, salt, sugar and garam masala.

Let the curry cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

11- Add crushed kasuri methi and then cream.

12- Cook for additional 2 to 3 minutes on medium-low heat. Sprinkle some cardamom powder on top. The gravy is now done. Set aside and make kofta.

step by step picture collage of making malai kofta at home

Make the kofta

13- Boil the potatoes using a pressure cooker, 8-9 whistles on a stove-top pressure cooker. You can do this on the side while making the gravy.

Once the potatoes are boiled, let them cool a bit then peel and mash them.

14- To a large bowl, now add all ingredients for kofta- boiled and mashed potatoes, grated paneer, finely chopped ginger, cilantro, green chili, cashews, raisins, cornstarch, salt, white pepper powder and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder.

15- Mix everything together with your hands to form a dough.

16- Start making koftas from the dough. Take some part of the dough and roll between your palms to make it round.

step by step picture collage of making malai kofta at home

17- Similarly makes all the koftas. I made 9 koftas, each around 40 to 42 grams.

18- Heat enough oil to fry in a kadai on medium-high heat. Make sure oil is hot, else koftas can stick to the pan and also disintegrate in the oil.

Drop koftas in hot oil.

19- Fry until golden brown from both sides. You can also shallow fry them, just press the koftas and flatten them like a burger tikki and shallow fry.

20- Remove the fried koftas on a paper towel.

step by step picture collage of making malai kofta at home

To serve place koftas on plate and top with the gravy. Garnish with cream and cilantro. Or you can also place the gravy first on the serving plate, drizzle with cream and place koftas on top.

If you like melt in mouth soft koftas, it’s also a good idea to let the koftas simmer in the gravy for 2 minutes before serving.

If you prefer the koftas to be on the crispier side, then add gravy on top only before serving.

Enjoy malai kofta with naan or rice!

a copper serving ware with kofta (balls) placed on top of a orange color creamy looking gravy/curry and garnished with cilantro with a naan placed in the background

If you’ve tried this Malai Kofta Recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s latest in my kitchen!

Malai Kofta

a copper serving ware with kofta (balls) placed on top of a orange color creamy looking gravy/curry and garnished with cilantro with a naan placed in the background
Manali
Creamy, rich and indulgent, this recipe makes restaurant style Malai Kofta at home! Deep fried balls made of potato and paneer are served with a creamy tomato based gravy/curry! So good with naan.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 503 kcal

Ingredients

Gravy

  • 1 tablespoon oil 15 ml, I used avocado oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole green cardamoms slightly crushed
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon shahi jeera caraway seeds
  • 6-7 large garlic cloves 22 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 inch ginger 16 grams, roughly chopped
  • 1 green chili chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion 190 grams, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes 390 grams, chopped
  • 12 cashews whole and raw
  • 2 cups water 16 oz
  • 2 tablespoons butter 28 grams
  • 1 teaspoon oil 5 ml
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garam masala or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons crushed kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream 45 ml
  • pinch cardamom powder
  • cilantro to garnish

Malai Kofta

  • 1 cup mashed & boiled potatoes
  • 1 cup grated paneer
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 green chili chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cashews
  • 1 tablespoon chopped raisins golden raisins
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • oil for frying, I used sunflower oil

Instructions
 

Make the gravy/curry

  • Heat a pot/pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and then add the bay leaf, cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and shahi jeera.
  • Let the spices sizzle for few seconds and then add the chopped garlic, ginger, green chili and onion.
    Saute for around 2 minutes, do not brown the onion.
  • Then add the tomatoes along with cashews and 2 cups of water and stir.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and cook for around 10 to 12 minutes until tomatoes soften.
  • Let it cool down down a bit (around 15 minutes, if you blend it while it's hot it might blow off from the blender), then discard the bay leaf and transfer mixture to a blender.
    Blend to a smooth paste. Use a strainer and strain the puree into another bowl. This makes sure the gravy is really smooth.
  • Put the same pan on medium heat again. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon oil. Let the butter melt.
  • Add in the pureed gravy and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the coriander powder, kashmiri red chili powder, salt, sugar and garam masala.
    Let the curry cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add crushed kasuri methi and then cream. Cook for additional 2 to 3 minutes on medium-low heat. Sprinkle some cardamom powder on top. The gravy is now done. Set aside and make kofta.

Make the kofta

  • Boil the potatoes using a pressure cooker, 8-9 whistles on a stove-top pressure cooker. You can do this on the side while making the gravy.
    Once the potatoes are boiled, let them cool a bit then peel and mash them.
  • To a large bowl, now add all ingredients for kofta- boiled and mashed potatoes, grated paneer, finely chopped ginger, cilantro, green chili, cashews, raisins, cornstarch, salt, white pepper powder and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder.
  • Mix everything together with your hands to form a dough. Start making koftas from the dough. Take some part of the dough and roll between your palms to make it round.
  • Similarly makes all the koftas. I made 9 koftas, each around 40 to 42 grams.
  • Heat enough oil to fry in a kadai on medium-high heat. Make sure oil is hot, else koftas can stick to the pan and also disintegrate in the oil.
    Drop koftas in hot oil and fry until golden brown from both sides. Remove the fried koftas on a paper towel. You can also shallow fry them, just press the koftas and flatten them like a burger tikki and shallow fry.

Serve the malai kofta

  • To serve place koftas on plate and top with the gravy. Garnish with cream and cilantro. Or you can also place the gravy first on the serving plate, drizzle with cream and place koftas on top.
    If you like melt in mouth koftas, it's also a good idea to let the koftas simmer in the gravy for 2 minutes before serving.
    If you prefer the koftas to be on the crispier side, then add gravy on top only before serving.
    Enjoy malai kofta with naan or rice!

Notes

  1. If using store bought paneer for the kofta, make sure to put the block of paneer if hot water first for 20-30 minutes. Then remove paneer block from hot water, pat dry with a paper towel and then grate the paneer for the kofta. If using homemade paneer, you don't need to do this step.

Nutrition

Calories: 503kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 13gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 750mgPotassium: 613mgFiber: 5gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1135IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 331mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @cookwithmanali or tag #cookwithmanali!

59 thoughts on “Malai Kofta

  1. The koftas turned out fine initially but as i fried the rest the panner mixture started oozing out and koftas started loosing its shape,why did this happen?I follow your recipes all the time and they are always a hit but I don’t know where I went wrong with this one?

    1. hmm could be the temperature of oil, maybe it wasn’t hot enough when you fried them later, if they were fine initially they should have been fine later too.

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you. I made this last night and it was fantastic! Actually even better than in restaurants. I made a few modifications for anyone who is interested:
        -I removed the cloves and cinnamon before pureeing the mixture.
        -I used a vitamix on high for 2 whole minutes to blend, so it was completely liquified and there was nothing to strain (trust me, I tried!). If you are using a vitamix, I recommend just skipping the straining step.
        -I reduced the white pepper to 1/16 tsp and ginger to 1 tsp for the koftas and added extra cardamom.

        Next time I think I will stuff a couple raisins on the inside of the kofta balls before frying. Fantastic recipe, can’t wait to try your others.

  2. I just made this and it was so good! My family was impressed. My gravy also came out a little thin, I think because I used kind of an old blender and not all of the cashews got blended up fully, so they came out in the strainer. Next time I’ll make sure everything gets blended evenly so the sauce will thicken better. Regardless, I am thrilled with this recipe!

    1. hmm you may but the curry will really thicken up. You will need to add cream or mix of cream and water to thin it out. May fry the kofta the day guests are coming?

  3. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe. I mixed the kofta with the shahi paneer recipe to get the white gravy. Turned out way too good. Thanks Manali! Looking forward to creating more of your recipes 🙂

  4. The gravy tastes exactly like all other gravies such as sahi paneer and it tastes monotonous.

  5. I forgot to mention: I also ask Indian cooks in NON-USA countries (but I’ve never been to India) that question, and got the same response percentages. Most recently, when I was in Bangkok for a few months (which is a LARGE Indian population and MANY Indian restaurants with Indian owners/cooks). So, I’m wondering……in your experience (from the parts of India you’re familiar with)……how common is use of potato? I’m guessing you’re going to say VERY………but in my “random” sample (outside of India) it’s unfortunately not common enough!!

    1. As an Indian, born and brought up in India I would say very very common. I grew up in Delhi so very common around that area. India is a vast country, every region has their own way of doing things. So you will always have different answers.

  6. I’ve always been very interested in the use of potatoes in Malai Kofta. I always ask Indian cooks (in USA) whether they use them, and it’s been 50% “yes”, and the rest “no”. Of the 50% that say no,
    about half of them say they never heard of anyone putting potatoes (ground up of course) into the koftas. I only eat in the Indian restaurants that use potatoes (even if only a tiny amount).

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