Malai Kofta is a rich and a bit sweet (mildly) Indian curry. The name of the curry gives away its constituents – Malai is the Hindi word for cream and, Kofta refers to fried dumpling balls. The dumplings are usually made up of potatoes, with or without cottage cheese. The use of cream and frying the dumplings is what makes this curry rich. I have today prepared my own version of this curry but have tried to be on the healthy path by using less of the heavy ingredients; I have used only one tsp of oil, have baked the dumplings instead of deep frying, used more cottage cheese, used less of potatoes, and have omitted the cream.
I have used mainly cottage cheese to make the dumplings (Kofta) thereby replacing the Carbohydrates (from Potatoes) with the proteins (from Cottage cheese). Cottage cheese contains all the essential amino acids needed for it to qualify as a complete protein. The high amount of protein makes it great for vegetarians or others who simply don’t like eating meat. Each serving of cottage cheese also comes packed with multiple macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.
In my experience, the omission of cream does not greatly affects the richness of this recipe as using more of Cottage cheese makes up for the missing cream. Additionally, I have kept it simple while preparing the gravy, by using poppy seeds, cashew nuts (for rich and creamy taste), onion and tomato.
The ingredients for the Koftas (dumplings) are :
1. Cottage Cheese (Paneer) : 250gms
2. Potato : 1 big (boiled)
3. Corn flour : 1 1/2 Tbsp
4. Red Chilli Powder : 1 tsp
5. Salt : to taste
The ingredients for the Gravy are :
1. Onion : 2 (cut in big cubes)
2. Garlic : 3 (chopped)
3. Tomato : 2 big (cut in big cubes)
4. Cashew nuts : 6-7
5. Poppy seeds (khus khus) : 1 tsp
6. Milk : 4 tsp
7. Yogurt : 1 Tbsp
8. Bay leaf : 1
9. Green Cardamom : 1
10. Cinnamon Powder : a pinch
11. Oil : 1 tsp
Method for making Koftas :
Firstly grate the cottage cheese and the boiled potato. Next take a big bowl and put the grated cottage cheese, grated boiled potato, corn flour, salt and red chilli powder in it; mix them well and make balls.
Preheat the oven on 180°C for 15 minutes.
Place the balls on a greased baking tray and brush each ball with very little oil. Bake these balls at 180°C for 12-15 minutes, flipping in-between after 7 minutes. They will make them turn golden brown in colour.
Your Baked Koftas are good to go !
Method for making the Gravy :
Soak the poppy seeds and cashew nuts in the milk for 10 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan. Temper with bay leaf, cinnamon powder and cardamom. Add garlic and sauté for few seconds. Then add onion and tomato into the pan. Sauté them till they become soft and cooked. Switch off the flame.
Remove the pan from the heat, and empty it on a plate to cool it down. Take out the bay leaf, and grind the rest of the mixture in a mixer. Now add the soaked poppy seeds and cashew nuts with the milk to this grounded mixture and grind again till it becomes a smooth paste.
Transfer this paste back to the pan and turn the heat on. Cook this gravy on a low flame and stir continuously for a minute. Then add yogurt and mix well.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes with occasional stirring. The Gravy for your Koftas is ready !
Add the baked Koftas just before serving. These Koftas are very soft; if you add them before and serve them later, they will break while serving.
Garnish with cashew nuts and coriander leaves. Enjoy this healthy, tasty but surely rich Baked Malai Kofta Curry !
Insider Tips / Finer Points :
- Feel free to use cream towards the end in case you need the curry to be more rich/sweet.
- Add milk/water to get the desired consistency if the gravy becomes thick.
- You may also stuff the Koftas with dry fruits to add some more richness.