Malai kofta is a rich northern Indian dish. 'Malai' means cream or butter, and 'koftas' are a patty of sorts. The koftas consist of paneer, potatoes, dried fruits and nuts, and the sauce is a buttery, tomatoey, spicy and often creamy gravy. Often times the gravy is without tomatoes, but to me, a dish without tomatoes is often lacking -- at least for malai kofta. I love this dish because the koftas are full of texture, crunchy with the nuts, slightly sweet with dates, while being spicy, saucy and just rich enough.
My wonderful aunt Kusum sent me this recipe because I was craving it. Her recipes are always really accurate.
It is a step up from paneer makhani, our favorite Indian dish at home. We enjoy them with homemade naan, but if you're watching your calories, it is perfect with chapatis, or even whole wheat tortillas.
320g (3 medium) potatoes, boiled, peeled and grated
120g (1 medium) carrot, peeled and grated
100g (1/2 cup) peas, mashed
120g paneer, grated
1 tbs potato or corn starch
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala (optional)
A pinch of chili powder
1 - 2 tbs fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbs cashews, chopped
2 tbs dates or raisins, chopped
2 packages of 370g chopped tomatoes
2 tbs butter
1 tbs canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tbs ginger, grated
1 tbs garlic, grated
1 serrano (green) chili, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, ground into a powder
1/4 cup cream (optional)
Fresh coriander, for garnishing
3 cardamom powds
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cloves powder or 3 whole cloves
1 tbs dried fenugreek, crushed finely
1. Preheat the oven to 220C or 450F.
2. In a large bowl, add the grated potato, carrots, paneer, peas, potato starch, spices, coriander, cashews and dates. Mix to form into a ball. Taste for seasoning.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then drizzle about 3 - 4tbs canola oil. Form about 1 tablespoon size balls and roll each ball in oil so that it is nicely coated. Repeat with the rest.
4. Bake the koftas for 10 minutes, then flip them for even browning. Once they are golden, turn off oven and leave in the oven while preparing the sauce.
5. In a saucepan, add butter, oil, onion and the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf). Sautee on medium low heat until golden. Then add the rest of the spices (except fenugreek), ginger, garlic, chillies, almond powder and tomatoes. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, until the tomato is cooked, and then add 1 cup of water. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add extra water if needed.
6. Fish out the whole spices. Puree the mixture until completely smooth. Taste for seasoning. Add cream and cook for another 5 minutes, and then add the koftas into the gravy, cover, and turn off the heat. Allow 5 minutes for the koftas to absorb the sauce. Garnish with fresh coriander and dried fenugreek. Enjoy with naan.
*Note that this dish is best eaten on the day of. But even with almost disintegrated koftas the next day, they are delicious.