Malai Kofta

4.79 from 14 votes

Malai kofta is a delicious Indian curry made by dunking deep-fried potato and paneer balls (kofta) in a rich velvety smooth gravy. Make perfect restaurant-style malai kofta using my tried and tested recipe. 3 styles of gravy are included in the post.

If you are looking for more rich Indian recipes, then here are some of my favorites lined up for you – Kadai Paneer, Paneer Pasanda, Methi Matar Malai, Paneer Tikka Masala, Mushroom Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, Nargisi Kofta, Lauki Kofta Curry, and Palak Corn Curry

Malai kofta served in a bowl.
Malai Kofta in White Gravy
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Malai kofta in tomato gravy served in a bowl.
Malai Kofta in Tomato Gravy

About This Recipe

Malai Kofta is one of the most popular Indian vegetarian curries and whichever Indian restaurant you go to, you will find it on their menu. Malai in India refers to cream and kofta are deep-fried balls made of a variety of ingredients. So essentially malai kofta is deep-fried balls dunked in a rich and creamy gravy.

Koftas to make malai kofta are mostly made using boiled potatoes and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and these can be dunked in a variety of rich gravies.

This rich and indulgent restaurant-style curry is not for your everyday meals. Make it for festivals or special occasions. I make it when I have guests at home and I want to make something impressive. The recipe is a little time-consuming but the result is just outstanding and well worth the effort.

In today’s post, I am sharing a lot of tips and tricks to make the best malai kofta and 3 different types of gravies that you can dunk them in. So read along!

Ingredients

You will find all the ingredients to make malai kofta in your nearby Indian grocery store. The spices and non-perishables are also available online.

For the kofta

Malai kofta ingredients.

These melt-in-mouth koftas are made using boiled potatoes, paneer (Indian cottage cheese), poha (flattened rice), green chili peppers, fresh ginger, cilantro (coriander), garam masala spice mix, and cornstarch.

Make sure the boiled potatoes are cooled well. They are starchy when still warm and the kofta can break while frying. You can boil the potatoes in a traditional Indian pressure cooker or cook them in an instant pot.

Homemade paneer is best to make the kofta but you can definitely use store bought. Wash the paneer slab with water after taking it out from the package and grate it using the medium hole of a box grater.

Poha is added to make them crispy from the outside and also helps to bind the ingredients. But you can choose to skip adding it and increase the quantity cornstarch by 1 tbsp.

I like to stuff the balls with a mixture of crushed cashew nuts, grated dried coconut, and raisins. It makes them even more indulgent. You can choose to make them without the stuffing.

Adjust the amount of green chili peppers according to your preference.

Koftas need to be fried in oil until crispy and browned. Use any vegetable oil to fry them.

For the white gravy

Malai Kofta White Gravy Ingredients..

For the white creamy and rich gravy of malai kofta, you will need butter, oil, whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, and green cardamoms), onion, garlic, fresh ginger, cashew nuts, khoya (reduced milk solids), green chili peppers, salt, sugar, plain yogurt, white pepper powder, heavy cream, and Kasuri methi. 

Khoya is reduced solid milk. You will find it in the refrigerator section of the Indian grocery store. If it’s not available, you can mix some dry milk powder with milk to make a dough and use it in place of khoya.

The gravy of malai kofta is slightly sweet. I have added sugar but can replace it with honey.

For the tomato gravy

Malai Kofta Tomato Gravy Ingredients.

If you are making orange tomato gravy, you will need some additional ingredients like tomato puree, ketchup and Kashmiri red chili powder.

Pro Tips By Neha

While cooking the potatoes, make sure that you do not overcook them. If they turn soggy or too soft, the kofta will not turn crisp. Also, make sure to cool the potatoes completely before using them.

I like to add a little poha along with cornstarch as it helps in binding and also gives the kofta a very crispy texture. You can choose to skip it and increase the quantity of cornstarch.

I have stuffed the balls with a combination of nuts and dried coconut. The stuffing is totally optional though.

Pass the gravy through a fine mesh strainer to make it silky smooth and creamy.

The quantity of cornstarch is important to make perfect koftas. If it’s less they will break while frying and if it’s more, they will turn out hard and doughy.

The oil for frying should be nicely hot before adding the kofta. If not, they will stick to the bottom of the skillet. Fry on medium-high heat.

Always test fry one kofta to start with. If it fries perfectly, then add the remaining to the hot oil. If they are disintegrating while frying, add some more cornstarch to the mixture and then fry.

Do not overcrowd the pan while frying them. Fry in batches if needed.

Add in the kofta to the gravy only at the time of serving. This way they will not dissolve in the gravy.

This recipe makes 7-8 koftas and 2 koftas are good per serving. You can easily double or triple this recipe if making it for a gathering.

How to Make Malai Kofta

Preparation for malai kofta

  1. Crush the cashew nuts in a mortar and pestle, grate the dried coconut using the small hole of a box grater, and chop the raisins.
  2. Grate the paneer using the medium hole of a box grater. If using homemade paneer, crumble it with your fingers.
  3. Boil the potatoes and refrigerate them for a few hours. You can boil them in a pot, in a traditional pressure cooker, or instant pot.
  4. Chop onion, ginger, garlic, cilantro and green chilli peppers.
  5. Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make the kofta

To make the filling, mix together 1 teaspoon crushed cashew nuts, 1 teaspoon grated dried coconut, and 1 teaspoon chopped raisins in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

filling ingredients mixed in a bowl.

Combine 6 oz (170 g) grated paneer, ¼ cup boiled, peeled, cooled and grated potatoes, 1 tablespoon poha (soaked in 2 tablespoon water for 10 mins), ¼ teaspoon grated ginger, ½ teaspoon finely chopped green chili pepper, 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, salt to taste, ¼ teaspoon garam masala spice mix, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well using your fingers until they come together.

Kofta ingredients added to a bowl.
Smooth mixture made.

Take a lime size portion of the paneer mixture and slightly flatten it in between your palms.

Small portion of the mixture flattened on palm.

Keep a teaspoon of filling that we made earlier in the center and bring the ends together to make a smooth ball. You can also shape them in pear shape (conical) as I did. Make all the kofta in the same manner.

1 teaspoon filling kept in the center.
Ready kofta.

Roll the kofta in 2 tablespoon cornstarch and set aside. Rolling them in cornstarch will create a coating around them and there are fewer chances of them breaking down while frying. It also makes them crispier.

Kofta rolled in cornstarch ready for frying.

Heat 3-4 cups of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and fry the kofta on medium-high heat till golden brown (8-10 minutes).

Kofta frying in hot oil.

Remove on a tissue lined plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Ready kofta.

Make the white gravy

Heat 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add 1 cup chopped onion, ½ cup cashew nuts, 1 teaspoon chopped ginger, and 1 teaspoon chopped garlic in boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Onion, cashew, ginger and garlic added to boiling water.

Drain the water and add the cooked onion and cashews to a blender.

Cooked onion mixture added to a blender.

Add ¼ cup cold water and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Smooth paste made.

Heat 2 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted) in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Oil and butter heating in a skillet.

When the oil is hot add 3-4 cloves, 1-inch piece of cinnamon, 2 whole green cardamoms, and 2 whole bay leaves and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

Whole spices added to the skillet.

Add the onion and cashew paste to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on low heat. Cover the skillet if the paste is spluttering too much.

Onion paste added to the skillet.

Now add ¼ cup crumbled khoya and 2-3 green chili peppers (slit into half) and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Khoya and green chili peppers added to the skillet.

Add salt to taste, 2 teaspoon sugar, ¼ cup yogurt whisked with flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Salt, sugar, yogurt and white pepper powder added to the skillet.

Note – Whisking the yogurt with flour prevents it from curdling when heated.

Add 1 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi, ½ teaspoon white pepper powder, and 1 cup water and bring the curry to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Kasuri methi added.

Finally, add ¼ cup heavy cream and mix well. Add some milk if the gravy is too thick and adjust for salt. Bring to a simmer and remove the skillet from heat.

Heavy cream added.
Ready white gravy.

Note – You can now pass the gravy through a fine-mesh strainer if you want it extra smooth and velvety.

Add the kofta to the gravy just before serving and serve hot.

Malai kofta added to teh white gravy.

Make the tomato gravy

Heat 2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 3-4 cloves, 4-5 whole black peppercorns, 2 whole black cardamoms, and a 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick and fry for 20 seconds.

Add 2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute. Now add 4 tablespoon tomato puree and 2 tablespoon tomato ketchup and fry for another minute. Add 2 tablespoon cashew nut paste, ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder, and 1 cup milk and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Steps to make tomato gravy for malai kofta.

Lastly, add 3 tablespoon heavy cream, 1 teaspoon honey, salt to taste, 2 teaspoon lime juice, and 2 teaspoon crushed Kasuri methi and cook for a minute. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding water and cook till the mixture comes to a boil.

Add the koftas to the gravy and give it a boil. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Final steps to make tomato gravy for malai kofta.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make vegan malai kofta?

To make vegan malai kofta, you can substitute paneer with tofu to make the koftas. Boiled raw bananas or sweet potatoes can also be used in place of paneer.
For the gravy skip adding butter, khoya, milk, and heavy cream. Replace butter with oil, khoya with cashew paste, milk with vegan milk, and heavy cream with vegan cream or cashew paste.

How to make kofta without deep frying?

When I am not in the mood for deep-fried kofta, I make them in a paniyaram/appe pan. They come out just perfect with almost no oil. You can even bake or air fry the kofta.

How to make a green gravy?

Kofta simmered in green gravy are also called hariyali malai kofta. To make the green gravy, blanch and puree 100 grams of spinach leaves, 20 grams mint, and 20 grams cilantro and add this paste to the tomato gravy.

Serving Suggestions

Malai kofta goes well along with all the Indian bread and rice preparations, but just make sure that the bread or rice is simple and not too flavorful, as malai kofta itself has a rich and creamy gravy.

You can serve it with bread such as roti, tawa paratha, lachha paratha, tandoori roti, naan, or even garlic naan

Malai kofta also tastes great with steamed rice, jeera rice or any other lightly spiced pulao.

If you are looking to make a festive meal, then you can make Punjabi Yellow Dal Tadka, jeera rice, cucumber raita, naan, and kachumber salad along with it.

Storage Suggestions

Refrigerate the kofta and the gravy separately for up to 2 days. When ready to serve bring the gravy to a boil. If it has thickened, add a little milk or water to it. Add the cold koftas to the hot gravy and serve. They will become hot from the heat of the gravy. You can also microwave them for 30 seconds if you wish to.

I will not suggest freezing the gravy as it has milk products in it and it might spoil when thawed but koftas can be easily frozen. Shape them and arrange them on a baking sheet. Freeze for 4-5 hours. Then gather in a zip lock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw on the counter, fry, and add to the gravy.

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Malai kofta is a delicious Indian curry made by dunking deep-fried potato and paneer balls (kofta) in a rich velvety smooth gravy. Make perfect restaurant-style malai kofta using my tried and tested recipe. 2 styles of gravy included in the post.
4.79 from 14 votes

Malai Kofta Recipe

Malai kofta is a delicious Indian curry made by dunking deep-fried potato and paneer balls (kofta) in a rich velvety smooth gravy. Make perfect restaurant-style malai kofta using my tried and tested recipe. 2 styles of gravy included in the post.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

For the kofta

  • 1 teaspoon crushed cashew nuts
  • 1 teaspoon grated dry coconut
  • 1 teaspoon chopped raisins
  • 6 ounces paneer (170 g, grated)
  • ¼ cup boiled, peeled and grated potatoes (make sure to cool them after boiling)
  • 1 tablespoons poha (soaked in 2 tablespoon water)
  • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped green chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala spice mix
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch (divided)
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

For the white gravy

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup whole cashew nuts
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole green cardamoms
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ¼ cup crumbled khoya
  • 2-3 green chili peppers (slit into half)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt (whisked with 1 teaspoon all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon Kasuri methi
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper powder
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

For the tomato gravy

  • 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 4-5 whole peppercorns
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 4 tablespoons tomato puree (or 2 tablespoon tomato paste)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cahsew paste (soak 15-20 cashew nuts in water for 15 minutes and blend until smooth.)
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk.)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons kasuri methi
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Instructions 

Preparation for malai kofta

  • Crush the cashew nuts in a mortar and pestle, grate the dried coconut using the small hole of a box grater, and chop the raisins.
    2. Grate the paneer using the medium hole of a box grater. If using homemade paneer, crumble it with your fingers.
    3. Boil the potatoes and refrigerate them for a few hours. You can boil them in a pot, in a traditional pressure cooker, or instant pot.
    4. Chop onion, ginger, garlic, cilantro and green chilli peppers.
    5. Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make the kofta

  • To make the filling, mix together crushed cashew nuts, grated dried coconut and chopped raisins in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Combine grated paneer, boiled, peeled, cooled and grated potatoes, poha (soaked in 2 tablespoon water for 10 mins), grated ginger, finely chopped green chili pepper, finely chopped cilantro, salt to taste, garam masala spice mix, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients well using your fingers until they come together.
  • Take a lime size portion of the paneer mixture and slightly flatten it in between your palms.
  • Keep a teaspoon of filling that we made earlier in the center and bring the ends together to make a smooth ball. You can also shape the kofta in pear shape (conical) as I did.
  • Make all the kofta in the same manner.
  • Roll the kofta in 2 tablespoon cornstarch and set aside. Rolling them in dry cornstarch will create a coating around them and there are fewer chances of them breaking down while frying. It also makes them crispier.
  • Heat 3-4 cups of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet and fry the koftas on medium-high heat till golden brown (8-10 minutes).
  • Remove on a tissue lined plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Make the white gravy

  • Heat 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add chopped onion, cashew nuts, chopped ginger, and chopped garlic in boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Drain the water and add the cooked onion and cashews to a blender.
  • Add ¼ cup cold water and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil and butter (salted or unsalted) in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot add cloves, cinnamon, whole green cardamoms, and whole bay leaves and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
  • Add the onion and cashew paste to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes on low heat. Cover the skillet if the paste is spluttering too much.
  • Now add crumbled khoya and green chili peppers (slit into half) and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add salt to taste, sugar, yogurt whisked with flour, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Note – Whisking the yogurt with flour prevents it from curdling when heated.
  • Add crushed Kasuri methi, white pepper powder and 1 cup water and bring the curry to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Finally, add heavy cream and mix well. Add some milk if the gravy is too thick and adjust for salt. Bring to a simmer and remove the skillet from heat.
  • Note – You can now pass the gravy through a fine-mesh strainer if you want it extra smooth and velvety.
  • Add the kofta to the gravy just before serving and serve hot.

Make the tomato gravy

  • Heat butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add cloves, whole black peppercorns, whole black cardamoms, and cinnamon stick and fry for 20 seconds.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute. Now add tomato puree and tomato ketchup and fry for another minute. Add cashew nut paste, Kashmiri red chili powder, and milk and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Lastly, add heavy cream, honey, salt, lime juice, and Kasuri methi and cook for a minute. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding water and cook till the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Add the koftas to the gravy and give it a boil. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Notes

While cooking the potatoes, make sure that you do not overcook them. If they turn soggy or too soft, the kofta will not turn crisp. Also, make sure to cool the potatoes completely before using them.
I like to add a little poha along with cornstarch as it helps in binding and also gives the kofta a very crispy texture. You can choose to skip it and increase the quantity of cornstarch.
I have stuffed the kofta with a combination of nuts and dried coconut. The stuffing is totally optional though.
Pass the gravy through a fine-mesh strainer to make it silky smooth and creamy.
The quantity of cornstarch is important to make perfect koftas. If it’s less the koftas will break while frying and if it’s more, they will turn out hard and doughy.
The oil for frying should be nicely hot before adding the kofta. If not, they will stick to the bottom of the skillet. Fry on medium-high heat.
Always test fry one kofta to start with. If it fries perfectly, then add the remaining to the hot oil. If they are disintegrating while frying, add some more cornstarch to the mixture and then fry.
Do not overcrowd the pan while frying them. Fry in batches if needed.
Add in the kofta to the gravy only at the time of serving. This way they will not dissolve in the gravy.
This recipe makes 7-8 koftas and 2 koftas are good per serving. You can easily double or triple this recipe if making it for a gathering.

Nutrition

Calories: 325kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 108mg, Potassium: 139mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 252IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 259mg, Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




32 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Tried the malai kofta today and it came out really nice and was so delicious. Thank you for sharing your recipes.
    However when i fried the kofta it all came apart in the oil, then realised that i actually soaked the paneer in water to make it to room temperature, guess there was excess of water in the paste. Hopefully i had enough paneer at hand which i defrosted in the microwave this time and to gain time, cooked the potato as well in microwave on high power for 3 mins, which did work perfectly. The kofta came out perfect. Thank you.

  2. Oh Wow… I was really impressed with how it turned out. It was sooo good that i have bookmarked it for future occasions..I made it for our anniversary eve coz malai kofta is one of his fav, I had it with buttered pav..Loved the coco-cashewnut crunch.Thanks alot for this, You are amazing..

  3. Quick question- did you use tomato purée from a can or fresh? I only have tomato paste and diced tomatoes and am willing to make my own own purée if that is best.

    Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Awesome. Better then our local restaurant. I will double the recipe and sauce next time though! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I made these the other week and they turned out so good despite the fact that when I tried to fry them, they disintegrated! I ended up pulling them out before they were browned and they were not nice little balls like you have but still good! Do you have any advice on the frying process of the balls?? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Hadas. I am so sorry the recipe didn’t worked out for you.I hope you added cornflour which is very important for binding the kofta together. I will myself retry the recipe and post a step by step tutorial very soon.

  6. 5 stars
    Tried these and loved them. For a family of 5 i doubled the recipe and it was just enough. No extras. Just the right amount of spice. I tried frying in a pan with no luck it had to be deep fried. Mashing the potato first helped with consistency and dusting the kofta balls in corn flour helped them to stay togethet. We substituted prunes for raisins. Otherwise followed the recipe. Thanks for posting these. Glad i found them.