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Malai Kofta: an easy, popular Indian recipe

Total time: 1H15
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 6 people
By Cookist
for the malai kofta
paneer, crumbled
1 cup
potato, boiled and crumbled
1 cup
2 ½ tsp
ginger paste
1 tsp
fresh cilantro, chopped finely
2 tbsp
salt to taste
Garam masala
3/4 tsp
for the puree and sauce
1 tbsp
onions, diced
1 cup
tomatoes, chopped
1 cup
10 to 15
green cardamom pods
Chili powder
1 tsp
ginger garlic paste
1 ½ tsp
Garam masala
1 tsp
salt to taste
½ to 1 tsp
½ cup
fenugreek leaves
1 tsp
Heavy Cream
3 to 4 tbsp

Easy-to-make malai kofta is an incredibly popular Indian recipe made with paneer, potatoes, and plenty of spices. It's a slightly spicy dish with hints of sweetness thanks to the addition of raisins and a pinch of sugar. The mouthwatering paneer kofta balls are deep-fried and served in a rich, creamy gravy, and make a delicious meat-free meal you can whip up with ease. You'll need staple Indian spices like cardamom, garam masala, chili powder, and coriander powder, as well as garlic ginger paste and of course, paneer. There's nothing like the combination of these fantastic flavors. You'll love each bite!

What is Malai Kofta?

Kofta means fried meatballs but the vegetarian version is equally popular both in India and around the world. Meat-free kofta are usually made with paneer, a fresh cheese, potatoes, and other veggies. Malai means cream, which refers to the rich cream that helps give this dish its wonderful texture.

How to Make Malai Kofta

There are a few steps to making homemade malai kofta, but they're all quite simple. Start by making the onion and tomato puree. Temper the spices then saute the onions until they turn translucent. Stir in the tomatoes and cashews and add in water to make a sauce. Take the mixture off the heat to let it cool completely. Pop it into a blender to make a smooth puree then strain out the solids.

Next up is the gravy. Lightly saute the spices then mix in the garlic ginger paste and let it simmer for a few minutes. Mix in spices and the onion and tomato puree and let it cook for another few minutes. Add in the water and let it simmer and thicken, then stir in the cream and take the sauce off the heat.

Finally, it's time to make the kofta! Combine boiled potatoes, paneer, cornflour, and spices then mix in the raisins and cashews until everything is well-combined. Form 8 balls then deep fry them in oil until they turn crispy and golden brown. Let them cool them slide them into the gravy. One last tip: don't forget to garnish with cilantro!


Tips for Making the Best Malai Kofta at Home

– Don't put hot kofta balls into hot gravy – they'll disintegrate. Instead, cool the sauce and the kofta balls slightly before assembling the dish. Follow this tips to prevent kofta from cracking.

– If you don't have corn flour or corn starch, you can use arrowroot powder or gram flour to thicken up the sauce.

– This delicious malai kofta recipe can be made vegan-friendly but using tofu instead of paneer and using non-dairy cream in the place of cream.

What to Serve with Malai Kofta

Serve malai kofta with jeera or pilau rice and some fresh naan, paratha, chapati or other Indian bread.

How to Store Malai Kofta

Store your leftover malai kofta in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 3 days. For best results, keep the kofta separate from the gravy.


Fry cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in hot oil over medium heat until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Stir in the onions and cook until translucent.

Pour in the tomatoes and cashews and cook for 3 minutes. Mix in ½ cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook until everything is soft and breaks apart easily. Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer the mixture to a blend until smooth. Strain into a bowl and set aside.

Fry bay leaf, cinnamon, and cardamom in oil over medium heat. Stir in ginger garlic paste on low for about 3 minutes.

Add garam masala, chili powder, coriander powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in the onion-tomato puree and cook for 4 minutes.

Pour in ½ cup of water and stir. Cover and cook until the sauce becomes thick. Add in fenugreek leaves. Keeping the heat on low, stir in the cream, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combined potatoes, paneer, ginger paste, cornflour, salt, garam masala, and cilantro leaves. Mix in raisins and cashews.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape them into balls.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Once hot, fry the kofta until crisp and golden brown. Set them on a paper towel to drain.

Place the kofta in the sauce and garnish with cilantro.


Olive oil or a neutral oil like vegetable works best in this recipe or you can use ghee instead of oil.

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