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Malai Kofta
मलाई कोफ्ता
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45 min
45 min
1 h 30 min
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About this dish

This is a special dish, something that would be prepared only on special occasions. Koftas came to India from Persia. Indian cuisine adapted Persia's koftas or meatballs to the vegetarian diet and various non-meat renditions were created like malai koftas, lauki koftas, cabbage koftas etc.

Malai Kofta literally means cream koftas or cream balls however they do not contain any cream at all. Instead, they are usually made with a blend of crumbled paneer or paneer bhurji and potatoes. So maybe cheese balls would be a more appropriate name. :)

The ratio of potatoes to paneer is quite important here though. Often in restaurants, they use way more potatoes than paneer which is always quite disappointing. In this recipe, the paneer truly shines and our attempt is always to use only as much potato as is needed to bind the koftas so that they don't fall apart in our smooth 'makhani' curry.

This recipe is mostly all about the koftas but the curry is luscious one too. This is exactly the same gravy that I would prepare to make paneer makhani so if you add some paneer cubes to this dish, there you have it, another very popular North Indian dish "Paneer Makhani" is ready.

  • 250g crumbled paneer
  • 250g potatoes (starchy)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp or 10g ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • 1.5 tsp or to taste salt
  • vegetable or peanut oil for deep frying
Filling for the Koftas (optional)
  • 10g almonds or cashews
  • 5g pistachios
  • 10g raisins
  • 1-2 medium or 200g red onion
  • 5-6 or 300g ripe tomatoes
  • 3 cloves or 20g garlic
  • 1 inch piece or 20g ginger
  • 1-2 green chili (optional)
  • 4 pods green cardamom
  • 2 cloves
  • 10 pepper cons
  • 2 indian bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 20g or 15 cashew nuts
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder or kashmiri mirch powder (if you can take more heat)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cream
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1-2 tsp kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves
  • 10-12 coriander stems
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • to taste salt


  1. In a heavy bottom pot, melt the ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the whole spices - Indian bay leaves, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns. Fry till aromatic.
  2. Once the spices are have released their aromas, add the roughly chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies. Then add the sliced onions and fry till they soften.
  3. Once the onions start to brown around the edges, add the ground spices - turmeric, kashmiri chilli powder and garam masala. Roast the spices for 30 seconds.
  4. Then add in chopped tomatoes and salt. Once the tomatoes have wilted, add some water to the masala and add the cashew nuts. Simmer the mixture together.
  5. Blend to a smooth puree using a hand blender or mixer. Once the curry is blended, simmer for another 15 minutes to let the flavours come together.


  1. Boil or steam the potatoes and let them cool completely.
  2. In a bowl, mix together crumbled paneer and grated and boiled potatoes.
  3. To this mixture add the flour, grated ginger, cardamom powder, salt and chopped coriander leaves. Gently knead the mixture to form a soft dough.
  4. Roll the dough into smooth balls. Each ball should weigh approximately 35g. If you're willing to go the extra mile, you can stuff each ball with a mixture of chopped cashew nuts and raisins. This is optional.
  5. Deep fry the balls on medium heat till golden brown and crusty.
  6. Add them to the simmering curry. Garnish with a sprinkling of kasoori methi and a dash of fresh cream.
  7. Serve with jeera rice, roti or naan.