Malai kofta is a delicious fried potato and cottage cheese (Paneer) ball in a rich tomato based curry sauce. This popular Indian recipe creates delicious dumplings, perfect for soaking up all the velvety sauce. The air fryer lightens up the traditionally deep fried dumplings while the Instant Pot makes putting together the curry sauce effortless. Make this yummy recipe and treat yourself and your family to a vegetarian delight!
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This recipe was originally published in July 2016 and has been update to include Airfryer and Instant pot instructions, videos and pictures.
This Recipe's Index
What is Malai Kofta?
Malai kofta is a popular Indian vegetarian recipe. Malai means cream in English. Kofta means fried balls. Malai kofta is fried balls in a rich, creamy sauce.
In our malai kofta, we use potatoes and paneer to make the balls. You can substitute some of the ingredients, like the paneer and ghee, with tofu and oil, to make the recipe vegan.
Malai Kofta Video Recipe
What are Vegetarian kofta balls made of?
Vegetarian kofta balls only need a few ingredients. They include:
- Boiled or mashed potatoes
- Paneer or cottage cheese
- Cardamom powder
The gravy requires a few more ingredients. You'll need:
- Chili powder
- Garam masala powder
- Dried Fenugreek leaves
Do you love Indian Recipes and do not know where to start ? Check out post om Indian Spices and How to Use Them You can read more about the Indian spices here.
How to make Malai Kofta
There are two parts to the recipe. You need to make the fried balls in the Air Fryer and the gravy or sauce in the Instant Pot. Here’s how to do it.
For the Kofta
You want to use boiled potatoes to make the balls. Boiled potatoes are mashable and help to hold the structure of the balls together. Once the potatoes are cool, you can grate them.
In a large mixing bowl, add the grated paneer and boiled potatoes. Next, add in the cardamom powder and salt to taste. Mix the ingredients until well combined.
Using your hands or spoon, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the paneer and boiled potato mixer out of the bowl into a well-greased hand. Press the mixture into your palm and add a few raisins and cashews in the center. Roll the mixture into a ball. Make sure the ball is about two bites so that they cook evenly and thoroughly.
Set the air fry them to 375 *F for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown on the outside. If you prefer, you can deep fry them in a deep fryer or large pot and oil until they are golden brown.
You could also cook them instead in an appe pan. For some tips and tricks on using the appe pan, check out our post full of appe pan recipes and tips here.
For the Gravy
First, add the tomatoes, cashews, salt, red chili powder, yogurt, and water into the inner pot of your electric pressure cooker. Close the lid and close the pressure valve so that it is sealing. Set the pressure cooker to cook for 6 minutes. When it is done cooking, do a quick release of the pressure.
Carefully remove the lid when the pressure has released. Give the gravy a few minutes to cool. Then use a hand blender or an immersion blender to carefully blend the sauce until it is smooth.
Now strain the mixture to get rid of skin and seeds. You may need to strain it more than once until it is a silky, smooth tomato puree. Then, rinse the inner pot and remove any leftover gravy.
Set Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat the ghee or oil. When it is hot, add the red chili powder and garam masala. Add in the strained tomato puree and sugar and mix well. Cover the pot and cook until the mixture starts to thicken. This will take about 5 -8 minutes.
Once the sauce has thickened, add in the crushed kasoori methi (dried Fenugreek leaves) and cream if you are using cream. Omit the cream if you are keeping it vegan.
Finally, pour the curry over the kofta. Serve the malai kofta with our better than restaurant Garlic Naan
Pro Tips to make Malai Kofta
Here are some great tips for making perfect malai kofta:
- you can use sweet potatoes or raw bananas instead of the potatoes for slightly sweeter balls
- blend and strain the gravy for the smoothest consistency
- use heavy cream or light cream for the creamiest texture
- you can use either store bought or homemade paneer
Can I Fry the Malai Kofta?
Yes, you can fry the recipe. If you are frying the kofta, you need to add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch or all purpose flour. If you prefer, you can use a slice of bread crumbled into small pieces or bread crumbs.
Fry the balls in a hot oil using either an electric fryer or a large pot or pan that can heat the oil. You need to fry them until they are golden brown and crisp. Friers and stove tops vary so you may to need to experiment with timing for best results.
Can I make the Kofta in Appe Pan / Aebleskewer pan?
An appe pan is a great, traditional Indian tool to make kafta and other favorites like veg manchurian. To use the appe pan, fill the cavities with the kofta balls. After a minute of cooking over medium-high heat, turn the balls over and cook the other side. The balls should be golden brown and crispy.
Can I make the Kofta using the Crisplid ?
If you have an Instant Pot with the Crisplid, you can use that to make the kofta. Follow the same instructions, setting the fryer to cook for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. You want the balls to be golden brown on the outside.
Why do I need to strain the gravy?
Straining the gravy gives it a much smoother, creamier texture. It removes the tomato skins, seeds, and other solids from the sauce.
You can skip straining the gravy if you prefer. The solids will add a bit of texture to the sauce and make it less smooth.
Can you freeze malai kofta?
You can freeze it if you keep the sauce separate. First, cooled sauce into a freezer safe bag or container. For the kofta, add the cooled balls to a freezer bag or freezer safe container. Wrap the balls with paper towels to help prevent extra moisture from building on the balls.
When you are ready to eat, defrost the balls and sauce in the fridge. Heat up the balls in your air fryer for about 2 to 3 minutes at 350 degrees or place them in the microwave for about 1 minute. Reheat the sauce in a pan or pot and add the balls once the sauce is warmed through.
What goes with Malai Kofta?
We often like to serve the recipe with foods that can soak up the extra gravy. Some of our favorite pairings are naan, paratha, and jeera rice. They let you enjoy every ounce of the gravy.
For a tasty and easy recipe to make jeera rice, check out this stove top rice recipe. You could also serve this with dal makhani or bhindi masala. You can serve it with a side of Garlic Naan or Roti Chapati
Is Malai kofta sweet?
The recipe combines a bit of sweet with spiciness. The raisins add a bit of sweetness in each bite. If you prefer less sweetness, you can remove the raisins.
Can I make Malai Kofta Vegan?
You can make malai kofta vegan with a few replacements. Instead of using paneer, you can use tofu. Also, you want to skip the ghee and use oil instead. Finally, don’t add cream to the sauce, though you could try using almond or coconut milk if you want a bit of extra creaminess.
Why do we need to add potatoes to the Kofta?
Potatoes add structure and body to the balls. They also help to absorb the extra moisture from the grated paneer. Potatoes are a great binder.
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Malai Kofta Recipe
- 2 boiled potatoes /mashed
- 1 cup paneer / cottage cheese, grated
- Cardamom powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 2 tbsp cashew
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 3 Tomatoes
- ¼ cup cashews
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ cup water
- Final gravy
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp sugar
- cream optional
- 2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
- In a large mixing bowl add grated paneer and grated boiled potatoes.
- Add in the cardamom powder and salt to taste. Bind everything together nicely .
- Take approximate 2 tbsp of the paneer and boiled potato mixer in you greased palm.
- Press them on your palm and add a few raisins and cashews in the center and prepare small ball sized kofta.
- The ball size should not be more than 2 bites to ensure they cook properly from inside.
- Air fry them at 375 *F for 15 minutes or till golden brown Or Deep fry the until golden brown or make them in appe pan
- Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, cashews, salt, red chili powder, yogurt and water in your inner pot of the electric pressure cooker.
- Place the lid and Close with pressure valve to sealing position.
- Pressure cook for 6 minutes followed by quick release.
- Open the electric pressure cooker, allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Using a hand blender / immersion blender, carefully blend the sauce until smooth.
- Strain the mixture to get rid of skin and seeds. Strain until silky smooth tomato puree is attained.
- Rinse the inner pot and remove any left over gravy.
- Set Instant Pot on Saute mode and heat ghee or oil add red chilli powder, garam masala.
- Add in the strained tomato puree and sugar and mix well.
- Cook until the mixture starts to thickens for 5 -8 minutes.
- Lastly add some crushed kastoori methi (dried Fenugreek leaves) and cream ( optional )
- Finally, pour the curry over kofta and malai kofta is ready to enjoy.
For the kofta
For the Gravy
You can skip the garlic if you prefer. Cream is optional too
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