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Malai Kofta

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

It’s no surprise that food, like every other aspect of culture, has evolved as it moved through history. Malai Kofta is the perfect example of this. Malai Kofta, as we know it today, has its origins in the Mughlai Cuisine. This particular style of cooking has now become the identity of Indian cuisine outside of India. All the curries, the naan and biryanis that one thinks of when Indian food is mentioned are part of the Mughlai Cuisine. The Mughal Empire showed up in India around the 1500s with origins Central Asia and had influences of Mongol and Persian cultures. The Moghuls had their ideas that they wanted to impose on their new empire. However, they also knew that they had to incorporate the land’s existing culture, arts, traditions, religion and of course food into theirs if they wanted to stay in control. In due time, alliances, acquisitions, and amalgamation created an unique blend of culture through music, architecture, arts and of course food. Malai Kofta is a vegetarian dish consisting of two parts: Malai, mildly spiced creamy sauce and Kofta, balls, in this case, made-up of mashed vegetables, nuts and sometimes paneer. The concept of ground or minced meat or fish rolled up into a ball and served in gravy or sauce is not new to any cuisine. The Italian Polpette in marinara sauce, Turkish Akcaabat Kofte in a tahini sauce, Swedish Kottbullar in a creamy lingonberry sauce, and the Chinese Lion’s Head Meatball Soup are all examples of this. However, it was India that made the vegetarian version of this popular, using potatoes, calabash, plantains and paneer as the key ingredient. Most often, Malai Kofta is served on special occasions or large gatherings. There are many amazing recipes out there that are quick and simple. For my version, I made vegan gravy using the leftover tomato soup and a puree made from almond and cashews. For the Koftas, I used white and sweet potato base filled with paneer and ricotta cheese blend.



  • 1 Potato, boiled and mashed

  • 1 Sweet Potato, boiled and mashed

  • 1 cup Paneer, shredded

  • 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese

  • 1/4 cup Flour

  • 3-4 Basil Leaves, chopped

  • 1 tbsp Cilantro, chopped

  • 1 tbsp Chili-Ginger-Garlic Paste

  • 2 tbsp Almond Cashew Paste

  • 1/2 tsp Red Chili Powder

  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1/2 tsp Shahi Paneer Masala

  • 3/4 tsp Cumin Powder

  • 1/4 tsp Garam Masala

  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds

  • Salt to taste

  • Oil to brush koftas


  • In a large bowl, mix boiled potato, sweet potato, paneer and ricotta cheese

  • Add in basil, cilantro and chili-ginger-garlic paste along with all the spices and flour

  • Mix everything well and divide into 8-10 parts and roll each part into balls

  • Arrange the koftas on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil

  • Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400F, be sure to check ever 3-4 minutes and turn them as needed

  • Note: Koftas will flatten slightly and are very soft on the inside



  • 1 cup Tomato Puree

  • 1/2 Onion, chopped

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped

  • 1/2 tbsp Chili-Ginger-Garlic Paste

  • 1/2 cup Almond Cashew Paste

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil

  • 1 pinch Asafoetida

  • 1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds

  • 1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds

  • 1 tsp Garam Masala

  • 3/4 tsp Red Chili Powder

  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder

  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Powder

  • Salt to Taste


  • In a medium-large sauce pan, heat up oil on medium heat

  • Add in mustard and cumin seeds along with the pinch of Asafoetida

  • Once the seeds start crackling, add in chopped onions and chili-ginger-garlic paste

  • Add salt to taste and Sauté until onions are translucent

  • Stir in tomato puree along with red chili, turmeric and cumin powder

  • Cover and simmer for 3 minutes

  • Add in Almond Cashew paste and stir (add some water at this stage if gravy is too thick)

  • Let it cool, blend it and strain through a fine mesh strainer (this will give you a nice creamy, velvety gravy)

To serve the Malai Kofta, place the koftas in your choice of serving dish and carefully ladle the gravy over the top. The kofta are soft and may fall apart if cooked in the gravy. Garnish with some cream or cilantro and serve with Naan or Rice.


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