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Malai Kofta (Vegetable Balls in Gravy)
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These potato and cheese balls (koftas) go well with Indian breads such as naan or paratha. This recipe calls for baking the koftas but you can also fry them, if you prefer. Finally, if you don’t have khoya or paneer you can try the substitutions though the end product may suffer. Alternately, make your own. Look for recipes – they are fairly straightforward and involve boiling milk until it solidifies.

Serves: 10 koftas

Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

North Indian Vegetarian-Dairy Main Dish

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For the Kofta:
5 medium potatoes
50 g (about 1/4 cup) khoya (substitute ricotta cheese)
50 g. (about 1/4 cup) paneer (substitute cottage cheese)
4-5 green chilies chopped fine
1/2 tsp. ginger grated
1 tsp. coriander chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Salt to taste
12 cashews
20 raisins

For the Gravy:
1 inch. cinnamon stick
6 cardamoms
1/4 tsp. nutmeg powder
6 cloves
125 g (about 1/2 cup) cream
75 g (about 1/3 cup) khoya or paneer (substitute ricotta cheese or cottage cheese)
150 ml (5 oz.) milk
50 g. (1/2 cup) cashews
3 tsp white pepper powder
2 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. garlic crushed
Salt to taste
3 tbsp. ghee
2 cups water

For the Garnish:
1 tbsp. grated cheese or paneer
1 tbsp. chopped coriander


  1. Peel and boil the potatoes, then mash them.
  2. Combine the potatoes with the cheeses, chilies, ginger, coriander, and cumin. Add salt to taste and mix until dough-like.
  3. Shape walnut sized balls, and then flatten. Place a cashew and a couple of raisins in the center of each and then reshape into a ball.
  4. Repeat until dough is used, then set koftas aside.
  5. Toast the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves together in a dry pan over medium heat. Since the nutmeg is powdered, add it last – it will toast the fastest. Be careful not to overcook. When the aroma is released they should be ready.
  6. Dry grind the spices and set aside. (If you don’t have a spice grinder, pick up a small coffee grinder and use it exclusively for spice grinding)
  7. Wet grind the remaining ingredients, leaving out the ghee, until it forms a paste.
  8. In a skillet, very briefly fry the ground spices in ghee over medium heat (2-3 seconds).
  9. Immediately add the paste and continue frying for 5-7 minutes, stirring.
  10. Reduce heat to low and add 2 cups water, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  11. To serve, warm the koftas (on low in the oven or on a tava – a flat Indian griddle). Transfer the heated koftas to a baking dish and pour hot gravy over them and bake in a preheated oven for 5 minutes at 400 F (200 C).
  12. Serve hot, garnished with grated cheese and sprinkled with chopped coriander.

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