Malai Kofta
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Malai kofta (Indian vegetarian "meat"balls made with paneer and vegetables) has become popular at Indian restaurants around the world, and but they’re easily made at home.
Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the kofta:
  • 1 pound (470 grams) potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup (60g/2oz/1 large) diced carrot
  • ½ cup (70g/2.5 oz) fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup cubed paneer
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt
For the gravy:
  • Oil or ghee
  • 2 large onions, coarsely grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 6 plum tomatoes, coarsely grated
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ cup finely ground cashews
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup water
To Assemble and Serve:
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Flour or cornstarch
  1. Put the potatoes, carrots and peas in a pot filled with water and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Drain and roughly mash. Add the paneer, garam masala, and salt and mash together until a soft, smooth dough forms.
  3. Form into about 30 1-inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper-lined sheet. Refrigerate while you make the sauce (can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered in plastic wrap, and refrigerated).
  4. In a large sauté pan with a lid, heat some oil or ghee over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and fry until very soft and lightly browned (do not burn). Add the tomatoes, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cashews.
  5. Cook for a few minutes before adding the cream and water. Stir to combine. At this point you can blend the gravy with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce, or leave it as is for more texture. Sauce can be made 1 day ahead (the flavors get even better!), covered and refrigerated, and heated up before continuing.
  6. Cover and put on the back burner over low heat while you fry the kofta.
  7. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. It should sizzle when you put a drop of water in it.
  8. Put flour or cornstarch on a plate or shallow bowl. Roll each ball in the flour and carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry, turning once, until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet.
  9. Once the kofta are cooked and slightly drained, add them to the sauce and remove from the heat. Cover and let sit for a few minutes. Serve immediately (if possible fry the kofta and add to the sauce just before serving, otherwise they can get soggy).
Gluten Free, Kosher Dairy, and Vegetarian

Some roll the kofta in breadcrumbs, some in flour, some in a batter, and some fry just as is. A rare few even bake them for a slightly healthier version.
Recipe by Katherine Martinelli at