International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta (Indian vegetable dumplings in creamy curry sauce)

(Indian veggie dumplings in curry sauce)

Average: 5 (2 votes)

Here is a rich, creamy vegetarian dish that you won't believe is meat-free. Malai kofta comes from northern Indian cuisine and is a great option for special occasions and Indian-themed buffets. It's gluten-free too!

4 to 6 servings


For the kofta

  • Waxy boiling potatoes, halved -- 1 pound
  • Paneer cheese, grated (see notes) -- 1/2 cup
  • Carrot, peeled and grated -- 1
  • Peas -- 1/4 cup
  • Cashew nuts, finely chopped -- 2 tablespoons
  • Green chile, finely chopped -- 1
  • Cornstarch -- 1 tablespoon, plus more for rolling
  • Ground coriander -- 1 tablespoon
  • Ground cumin -- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste

For the sauce

  • Onion, chopped -- 1
  • Ginger, peeled and chopped -- 1 (1-inch) piece
  • Garlic, chopped -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Oil -- 3 tablespoons
  • Paprika -- 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander -- 2 teaspoons
  • Cumin -- 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric -- 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato sauce -- 2 cups
  • Sugar -- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Heavy cream or evaporated milk -- 1/2 cup
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 2 tablespoons
  • Garam masala (optional) -- 1 teaspoon


  1. Add the potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over medium-high flame and boil until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once the potatoes are cool, remove their skins and mash until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, use clean hands to mix the potatoes together with the remaining kofta ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste. Using wetted hands, form 1/4-cup portions of the potato mixture into compact balls. Roll each potato kofta in cornstarch to coat and set aside on a baking sheet while you make the sauce.
  3. Add the onion, ginger and garlic to a blender or food processor with a little water and process until smooth.
  4. Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or pot over medium flame. Stir in the paprika, coriander, cumin and turmeric and toast the spices for a few seconds in the hot oil. Then immediately stir in the onion mixture and saute until the liquid is reduced and the onions are cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Stir the tomato sauce, sugar and salt and pepper to taste into the onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cream or evaporated milk and adjust seasoning as needed.
  6. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a deep pot, wok or karahi over medium-high flame until it shimmers. Working in batches, add a few potato kofta balls at a time to the hot oil and brown on all sides. As you finish browning the kofta balls, add them to the simmering sauce and gently toss to coat.
  7. Once all of the kofta have been added to the sauce, simmer for another 5 minutes or so to heat through. Sprinkle with garam masala and serve immediately with naan, chapati or rice.

Malai Kofta Notes and Variations

  • Paneer substitutes: Other fresh grating cheeses can be substituted for paneer. Try farmer's cheese, low-moisture mozzarella, quesillo, halloumi, saganaki or queso blanco. You can also try using ricotta or drained cottage cheese.
  • Baked kofta: Bake the kofta in a 375 degrees F oven instead of frying if you want to cut back on fat and calories.


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