By Deepak Pachauri

Published: 30 June 2021, vegetarian

This malai kofta recipe is just like what you get at your favourite Indian restaurant but it’s made at home with a healthier option (no-fry kofta). Serve it with garlic naan or freshly cooked basmati rice to enjoy the meal.

Parts we have covered in this blog

  • About This Recipe
  • 🧾Ingredient Notes
  • 👩‍🍳Step By Step Instructions
  • 💭Expert Tips
  • 🍽 Serving Ideas
  • FAQs

About This Recipe

Malai = Heavy cream

Kofta = meatballs

Traditionally kofta curry is made from meat. But here I am sharing vegetarian malai kofta curry.

So, here koftas are made from grated paneer (cottage cheese), potatoes, nuts, and dried fruits. They are deep-fried into the oil. 

But today we are taking a healthier route and making it a non-fry version of koftas. Here koftas are shallow fried in appe (paniyaram) pan without compromising the taste and texture.

Then they are added into smooth, rich Punjabi red gravy. This red gravy is made from onion, tomato, cashew nuts, Indian spices and heavy cream.

This restaurant-style malai kofta is a rich dish. So it is made on special occasions or for special guests.

2 Variations of Malai Kofta:

  1. Punjabi version: Today’s recipe is North Indian style where it has orangy-red gravy.
  2. Mughalai version: It has mild, slightly sweet, aromatic white gravy.

🧾Ingredient Notes

– Paneer: Also known as (cottage cheese) is easily available in the market. Occasionally I make homemade paneer, but for convenience, I mostly use store-bought.

– Potato: Here I have boiled potatoes in an instant pot. Let it cool down to touch, then remove the skin and discard. Then it is mashed with a potato masher or fork. Alternately, you can grate the boiled potato using a grater. 

– Corn flour (Cornstarch): It is used as a binding agent so we can roll into smooth balls (kofta).

– Nuts & raisins: I have just used cashew nuts. We do not like raisins at home so I have skipped it.

– Oil and Butter: I have used a combination of both. Butter adds a nice rich flavour. Instead, you can use ghee (clarified butter) or simply use all oil.

– Cashew nuts: helps to make thick, nutty, rich gravy

– Whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, green cardamoms, bay leaf): These are added into the butter as a tempering. They add a nice aromatic flavour to the gravy.

– Red onions: Please use red onions (Yellow or white won’t add that nice flavour).

– Tomatoes: Always use ripe tomatoes. Unripe tomatoes make the gravy sour.  

TIP: When it comes to the Indian gravy dishes, I highly recommend using Roma tomatoes. Stay away from the beefsteaks or wine-ripe tomatoes which make sour gravy.

Malai Kofta {Restaurant Style}

👩‍🍳Step By Step Instructions 

Make Kofta:

1) Take grated paneer, boiled, mashed potatoes, cornflour, garam masala, cashews and salt in a bowl.

2) Mix-well using hand, it should come together like a dough.

3) Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and make smooth, round balls.

No-Fry Method:

4) Heat appe (paniyaram) pan on medium heat. Add around 1 teaspoon of oil to each section. Once hot place kofta.

5) Once they get golden brown from the bottom side then flip them and cook another side. If needed you can add few more drops of oil.

6) Similarly, fry the sides as well to get even browning from all the sides.

7) Once they get golden brown from all the sides then remove it on a plate and keep it aside.

OR Deep-Fry Method:

1) While you are shaping the balls heat the oil in a kadhai or pan on medium heat for deep frying. Once the oil is hot, add a few koftas gently into it.

2) Keep moving them occasionally so it gets even browning from all the sides. Once golden brown from all the sides remove them using a slotted spatula and keep them on a paper towel-lined plate.

Making Gravy:

1) Take onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts, and water in a pan, turn the heat on medium.

2) Let it simmer for 15 minutes or until onion tomatoes get soft. Let it cool down a bit.

3) then take this mixture into the blender jar.

4) Blend into a smooth puree.

5) Heat oil and butter in a pan on medium heat. Let the butter melt.

6) add whole spices (cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf) and saute for 1 minute or until you get a nice aroma of the spices.

7) Add the prepared puree.

8) Mix well and cook for 5-7 minutes or until it thickens slightly. While cooking gravy it may splutter, so partially cover the pan with a lid and cook. Do stir occasionally to make sure that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

9) add red chilli powder and coriander powder.

10) Mix well and cook for a minute.

11) Add water and salt. Mix well and let the gravy simmer for 5 minutes.

12) add garam masala and Kasuri methi (crush between palms before adding). Mix well.

13) add heavy cream and mix.

14) Add koftas into the gravy, turn off the stove and serve malai kofta immediately. If serving later then do not add kofta right now otherwise they get soft and may fall apart. So only add them at the time of serving.

💭Expert Tips

  • Do not over-boil the potato. Overcooked potato has more moisture and if that is used in making kofta then kofta turns out super soft and may fall apart while frying or after adding into the gravy.
  • The amount of cornflour added in kofta decides the texture. If added less/no amount then koftas turn out super soft from inside and may get mushy or after added into the gravy. If added more amount than mentioned then koftas turn out too firm and dense. 
  • Strain the prepared onion-tomato puree to get a smooth, velvety gravy texture. If you are using a high-power blender then you can skip this step.

🍽 Serving Ideas

Serve malai kofta with garlic naan or lachha paratha. Also, serve laccha pyaz, salted lassi on the side to complete the meal.

Malai kofta curry is heavy itself, so it can be served with plain basmati rice or jeera rice to make a lighter meal.


How to prepare malai kofta for a party or get-to-gather?

– Make gravy ahead of time (same day or a day before). If made a day or two before then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

– Shape the koftas, arrange them on a tray, cover them, and store them in the refrigerator. If made a week before then you can freeze them. On the day of serving, bring the kofta to room temperature and then deep fry.

– Before serving, re-heat the gravy, add malai dipped koftas, garnish with nuts and cilantro.

Can I air fry the kofta?

Yes, you can. Air-fry them at 375°F for 13-15 minutes. 

If you are a South Indian food lover, also check our recipes for Instant Rava IdliMasala Dosa, Instant Rava appe recipe, Sambhar, coconut chutney.

Also check our Recipes for:

Matar Paneer

Veg masala maggi recipe

Ginger Tea


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