Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta - Vegetarian Potato-Paneer Balls in Tomato Cream Curry {Katie at the Kitchen Door}

Malai Kofta – a favorite vegetarian Indian takeout dish. Potato, paneer, and vegetables are rolled into kofta and fried, then served in a rich tomato-cream masala sauce. 

Recipe adapted from Spice up the Curry, Padhu’s Kitchen, and Veg Recipes of India.



For the kofta:

  • 3 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 8 oz. paneer cheese, grated or finely crumbled
  • 1/3 c. frozen peas
  • 1/4 c. grated carrot
  • 2 TBS raisins
  • 3 TBS finely chopped cashews
  • 1 Thai green chile, chopped finely
  • 3 TBS cornflour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • canola oil, for frying

For the masala sauce:

  • 2 TBS canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or pounded into a paste
  • 2-inches fresh ginger, peeled and pounded into a paste
  • 2 cups. crushed tomatoes
  • 12 cashews
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 23 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


For the kofta:

  1. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes are very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain potatoes.
  2. Add potatoes, grated paneer, peas, grated carrot, raisins, cashews, and chopped chile to a bowl. Mash the potatoes with a fork, then mix everything together thoroughly. Use your hands if it’s easier.
  3. Stir in the 3 TBS of cornflour, sea salt, ground cumin, and ground coriander. Mix until evenly combined.
  4. Roll mixture into golf-ball sized balls, pressing together gently with your hands. Pour the extra cornflour into a bowl and roll the balls through the cornflour so there is a light coating on the outside.
  5. Pour enough canola oil into a high-sided frying pan to reach 1/4 inch up the sides. Heat over medium heat until a piece of potato mixture dropped into the oil sizzles on contact. Add two or three of the potato balls to the oil and fry until golden brown all over, using tongs to carefully turn the balls as each side cooks. When they are done, use tongs to transfer them to a plate lined with a paper towel.

For the masala sauce:

  1. Heat 1 TBS of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste and saute until fragrant, another 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, salt, cashews, and all the ground spices. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then remove from the heat.
  2. Transfer the sauce to a blender (let cool first if your blender can’t process hot liquids). Add 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and blend on high until a very smooth sauce is formed. Set aside.
  3. Rinse or wipe the frying pan out. Heat the remaining 1 TBS of oil and 1 TBS of butter in the pan until the butter has melted. Add the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom pods, and caraway seeds. Fry for 60-90 seconds, then add the blended sauce to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the oil begins to pool on the top of the sauce, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Add the kofta to the sauce, and serve over basmati rice.