I call this creamy paneer kofta curry Melt-Away Malai Kofta simply because they melt away as soon as you put them in your mouth. Malai Kofta are the ultimate North Indian vegetarian curry recipe to dazzle friends and family. A celebration of rich flavours and warming spices.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: celebration, curry, dinner party, kofta, north indian, paneer, party food
Large pan for cooking the sauce
Kadai, work or large pan for deep frying
Slotted spoon for deep frying
For the kofta:
225gpaneer, very well pressedhomemade is best (recipe linked above)
100gpotato (any floury variety such as Maris Piper, King Edward or Yukon Gold)cooked, cooled, peeled and grated on the fine side of a grater
1 1/2tbspplain flour
Baking powdersame amount as two grains of rice
Oil for deep fryingany cooking oil
For the kofta curry:
1whole star anise
2cmstick cinnamon or cassia bark
4whole green cardamom pods
1small pieceblack stone floweroptional
2onionsfinely diced (about 250g)
2tbspdouble concentrate tomato purée
2large cloves garlicchopped
2tbspskimmed milk powder
To finish the Malai Kofta:
1tbspghee or oil
1tspKashmiri chilli powder
Small pinch of saffron
100mlwhipping cream(cooking cream)
1tbspchopped coriander leaves
To make the kofta (see video for visual tutorial):
Crumble your well-pressed homemade paneer onto a large plate or on a clean surface. it should feel dry and crumbly. If using shop bought paneer, you will need to grate it on the fine side of a grater.
Add the finely-grated cooked potato, salt and baking powder. Work everything together using your hands and then sprinkle over the flour. Bring the mixture together to form a very rough mixture. It should bind to a sticky, but not wet dough. Divide it into three portions.
Taking one portion of mixture at a time, begin to knead the dough on a worktop or clean surface. Use the heel of your palm to press the mixture into the worktop and away from you. We are creating a smooth-textured dough without a crumbles This process is similar to kneading chhena (paneer) for sweets like Rasmalai and Rasgulla. It produces the perfect finish.
Spend a bit of time kneading the kofta mixture. I spent about 5 minutes per portion, so 15 minutes kneading in total. It's a great work out! I don't recommend using a blender for this as it can overwork the mixture and ruin the texture of the kofta.
Bring the kofta mixture back together and begin to portion it out into approximately 13-15g portions. Don't make them any bigger than this as they will expand slightly in the oil. Roll each one with a little pressure between your palms. They should be perfectly smooth and without any cracks. You should have between 24-26 kofta.
Heat enough oil to deep fry the kofta in a kadai or wok. Work in batches of 2-3 so the oil is not overcrowded. Heat the oil to 125°C/260°F on a cooking thermometer. It should be low enough to seal the kofta all around without browning too quickly. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, drop one of the kofta into the oil - it should bubble around the outside very slowly.
Fry the kofta at this temperature. At no point should the oil temperature exceed 130°C/265°F. Agitate the oil around them, rather than directly moving the kofta at first. This will ensure they don't get knocked out of shape. The kofta need to be fried very slowly until they turn golden. Each batch will take around 10 minutes. Keep them moving in the oil all the time for even browning. If the heat is too high the outside will brown too quickly and they will deflate once they come out of the oil.
Line a plate with kitchen towel. Lift out your fried kofta and drain on the plate. Repeat this process for your remaining batches of kofta. Note: It's okay if the kofta deflate very slightly on the surface. They will plump up again in the kofta curry later.
For the kofta curry:
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add star anise, cinnamon or cassia bark, cardamom, cloves, black stone flower if using (I recommend it) and onions. Sauté over a medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until the onions turn soft and translucent but do not brown. Tip: Add the salt at this stage to help the onions cook quickly.
Next, add the tomato purée and cook out for a further minute. Finally, add the ginger and garlic and cook for two minutes longer over a low heat. Allow this mixture to cool and then remove the whole star anise and cinnamon or cassia. Leave the other whole spices in.
Once cool, transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the milk powder and water. Blend on the highest speed until very smooth. The sauce should be thick and very creamy.
To finish the Malai Kofta:
Heat ghee or oil in a large pan set over a low heat. Add the Kashmiri chilli powder and allow it to sizzle for a few seconds before adding the blended kofta sauce. Stir well. Add saffron, sugar and cream (reserve a tablespoon for garnishing). Stir well and bring to a very gentle simmer.
Add the fried kofta and mix gently to ensure they're covered. Place a lid on the pan and allow to heat through over a low heat for 4-5 minutes.
Remove the lid and garnish with a swirl of cream, kasoori methi (rub between your palms first) and fresh coriander. Serve immediately with naan, paratha or rice.
How to store leftover Malai KoftaPack any leftovers into an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in a pan, adding water if sauce is too thick. Try not to stir too much to avoid breaking. Do not freeze.To make Malai Kofta ahead of timeThis can be made up to 3 days in advance. Keep the kofta and sauce separate until you're ready to serve. At the last minute, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer (add water if necessary as it will thicken over time), add the kofta and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes as directed in the recipe above.