This Malai Kofta recipe tastes like it’s straight out of a restaurant. What’s not to love about deep fried vegetable dumplings floating in sea of rich, creamy curry?
When it comes to eating out at an Indian restaurants, malai kofta is to vegetarians what butter chicken is to us meat eaters. They’re equally good but in different ways. Truthfully, if I HAD to choose… I think the malai kofta would win. Yup, I went there.
This dish is fit for a king. Literally. Malai Kofta is part of Mughlai cuisine, a style of cooking that developed in royal kitchens during the Mughal era in India. Mughlai cuisine is known for its use of rich ingredients including nuts, cream, butter and dried fruit. Malai Kofta is typically made with “malai” which means heavy cream and and koftas, which are deep fried vegetarian “meatballs.” For this recipe, I use the cream from a can of refrigerated coconut milk.
The koftas are made of mashed vegetables, sweet potato and chopped cashews. The cashews give the meatballs texture which goes perfectly with the creaminess of the dish. Serve this alongside naan, roti or a paratha.
This dish is really simple to make – BUT – it takes time. That’s because you have to first make the veggie balls, roll them in tapioca flour and then shallow fry them. Then you have to make the curry. If you don’t want to do all of this in one day, you can make the veggie balls in advance. I think they taste best when fresh, but I’ll sometimes fry these koftas a day or two before making the curry – and they’re still crazy good.
If you’re looking to impress dinner guests, this recipe is sure to do it. Enjoy!
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 cup of mashed sweet potato (~1 large sweet potato) or white potato
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Thai bird chili, minced
- ¼ cup cashews, chopped
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream from the top of a can of refrigerated coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1-inch knob ginger, chopped
- 1 Thai bird chili, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds, soaked in 3 tbs water
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can organic diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons coconut cream from top of a refrigerated can of full fat coconut milk
- optional garnish: cilantro leaves, chopped
- Bake the sweet potato.*
- Boil the peas and carrots in water over medium heat until soft.
- Drain the vegetables (make sure they are completely dry) and then put them in a food processor - give the veggies a few pulses to coarsely blend.
- In bowl, combine the sweet potato, coarsely blended carrots and peas and the rest of the ingredients listed under kofta/vegetarian dumplings. Roll into little balls.
- In a plate, pour ½ cup of tapioca flour and roll the balls so that they are coated with flour.
- In a wok on medium heat, shallow (or deep) fry the dumplings in avocado oil or fat of choice until golden brown.
- Drain them on a paper towel lined plate and set aside while you make the curry.
- Add avocado oil and cumin seeds to a pan on medium heat. When the cumin seeds turn brown, add onions.
- Once the onions turn golden brown (after about 10-15 minutes), add the garlic, ginger and thai bird chili.
- Stir fry for a minute, then add the spices. Stir fry for another minute then turn off heat.
- Once the mixture has cooled, put it in a blender along with the can of tomatoes and the poppy seeds. Blend until everything is pureed.
- Add the puree and 1 cup of water back into the pot and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add 3 tablespoons of coconut cream and mix well.
- Turn off the heat and add the koftas/meatballs to the curry right before serving.
- Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve.
The koftas taste best fresh but you can make them a day in advance and then add them to the curry right before serving.