Malai Kofta


malai kofta curry - vegetable dumplings in a sea of creamy tomato sauce -

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.

malai kofta curry - vegetable dumplings in a sea of creamy tomato sauce -

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.

how to make vegetarian "meatballs" or koftas by
make the veggie balls, roll them in tapioca flour and then shallow/deep fry

If you’re looking to impress dinner guests, this recipe is sure to do it. Enjoy! 🙂

Malai Kofta Vegetarian Meatballs

malai kofta curry - vegetable dumplings in a sea of creamy tomato sauce -

Malai Kofta Vegetarian Meatballs

5 from 11 reviews
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To Make the Kofta/Vegetarian Dumplings

  • 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

To Make the Malai Kofta Curry:


To Make the Kofta/Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 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.

To Make the Malai Kofta 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.


To bake a sweet potato - place them in a baking dish and cook for approximately 40 minutes, until tender.
The koftas taste best fresh but you can make them a day in advance and then add them to the curry right before serving.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @myheartbeets on Instagram and hashtag it #myheartbeets!

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Varsha says

    Ashley, I don’t know if you will see this, but is there any chance you will adapt this for IP, or create a new one for IP? We literally live by all your recipes for Indian food (I am not even remotely exaggerating), but I’m starting to get a bit jealous of all the chicken dishes my family enjoys (I’m the only vegetarian), so please post a kofta recipe or more paneer recipes if you can. Sorry for being so demanding 🙂

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Varsha, lol! thank you for the kind words – they made my day 🙂 I will add a kofta recipe to my list of recipes to try in the IP! Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  2. Lula says

    Yum! l would love to make this but don’t have poppy seeds on hand. Could I take it out completely? But would it make a huge difference in taste? If you have any other recommendations for replacement – that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for sharing this recipe 😊

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