Malai kofta

Malai kofta has got to be the most impressively complex Indian dish I make, and it feels seriously decadent to eat. Malai means cream, and kofta refers to the fried dumplings that are the signature of this dish. There’s lots of different ways of making this north Indian dish, and mine is creamy without using any dairy 🙂

The dumplings are made with potato and cauliflower, and melt in your mouth when you scoop them up with a generous spoonful of the cashew-coconut-creamy spiced curry. While it’s supposed to be quite a mild dish, I’m not averse to spicing it up a notch or two 😉

Best served with naan, roti, or another kind of flatbread, you could also serve malai kofta with steamed basmati rice. I like it best with naan or roti, as the bread soaks up the moreish curry, and its chewy texture goes great with the silky smoothness of the koftas. Malai kofta is a pretty hefty dish (2-3 koftas are plenty for one person), so make sure you’ve cranked up an appetite for when you serve this one!

Here’s how to whip up a complex and decadent Indian treat far more simply than you might expect – your guests will be seriously impressed… 😉

Flavour: Spicy, creamy and fragrant

Serves: 2 as a main meal (yields 6 koftas)

Ingredients:

Kofta:

  • 3 small potatoes, boiled and coarsely mashed (I leave the skins on, but you can peel your potatoes if you prefer)
  • 1 cup cauliflower, boiled and coarsely mashed
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced (see here for how to mince garlic to a puree)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder of your choice (I like to use Madras, as it’s very flavouful)
  • quarter teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons besan (chickpea) flour
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, for frying the koftas

Curry:

  • half tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, finely minced
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped (optional – use these if you like it spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder of your choice
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled (see here for how to peel a tomato)
  • half cup cashew nuts – soak quarter cup of cashews in a small bowl of warm water for 30 minutes, and leave the other quarter cup dry
  • half cup coconut cream (I use the powdered stuff that you mix with water – 2-3 tablespoons is enough for this)
  • half cup water
  • small bunch coriander, coarsely chopped

Directions:

Kofta:

  1. Mix mashed potato, cauliflower, salt, curry powder and garlic together in a bowl (ideally your mashed veggies will be cool before you do this so you can handle the mixture when it comes to forming the koftas)
  2. Bind mixture together with 1 tablespoon of the besan flour, and combine well
  3. Form your mixture into 6 balls by rolling it between your hands – this will come together surprisingly easily 🙂
  4. Spread the rest of the besan flour onto a plate, and roll your koftas in the flour until they are well coated (this will make them crispy on the outside when you fry them, and will prevent sticking) – then set these aside, preferably in the fridge, while you make your curry
  5. Once your curry is ready, or nearly ready, heat up a frying pan with the oil over a high heat, and pop in your koftas – you’ll need to turn them gently a few times to get them golden-brown and crispy all over (you’ll find the koftas become easier to manhandle as they cook through)
  6. Once your koftas are cooked, you can transfer them to the curry for serving

Curry:

  1. Fry off your onion over high heat until it turns translucent and starts to colour up
  2. While your onions are frying, pop your soaked cashews in a blender or food processor with the water you soaked them in (or, if you’re gadget-free, try this with a pestle and mortar), and pulse until smoothly blended – now you have cashew paste 😀
  3. Add your garlic, ginger and chilli (if you’re using it) to the onions, stir, and fry for another minute
  4. Add curry powder and salt, stir, and fry for another minute
  5. Toss in your chopped tomatoes, coconut cream, and cashew paste – stir through, and cook until the mixture is well-combined and starting to reduce
  6. Add your water, bring to the boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer until the mixture has thickened, but is still runny enough to pour easily – this should take no more than 10 minutes
  7. Once your curry is the consistency you want it, toss in your remaining cashew nuts and coriander, stir through, and remove from heat (note that when you add your koftas to the curry, they will soak up some of the moisture, so it’s best if your curry is not too thick)
  8. Pop your koftas into the mixture, and serve straight away

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