Malai Kofta is one of my favourite vegetarian dishes to order when eating out at Indian restaurants. In case you've never tried this dish, it's kind of like an Indian version of gnocchi in a spicy, creamy, tomato sauce!
I've made up my own recipe, adapted from several I've found online. You can easily make this as mild or spicy as you like by varying the amount of chilli used. Serves 4-6
For the kofta
1 large potato plus 1 medium carrot, diced and boiled until soft, then drained
200g/8oz paneer cheese, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
½-1 tsp finely chopped fresh chilli (optional)
2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1-2 tbsp cornflour, plus extra for dusting
Once cooked and drained, mash the cooked potato and carrot. Allow to cool. Mix in all of the remaining kofta ingredients to make a medium-firm dough. Add a little more cornflour if needed.
Take heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll the dough into 10-12 balls or ovals. Dust in a little more cornflour.
Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Add the kofta and fry on a medium heat, turning every few minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan, drain of kitchen roll and keep warm while you make the sauce.
For the sauce/gravy
1 onion, grated
1 carton/500ml/1 pint passata or creamed tomatoes
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp finely chopped chilli
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
1 small stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tsp sugar, optional
25g/1oz cashew nuts, ground or 1 tbsp cashew butter
½ tsp garam masala
4 tbsp double cream/coconut cream
Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan, add onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for a minute, then add the rest of the dried spices (except the garam masala) and fry for a further 2 minutes.
Pour in the passata, ground nuts and sugar and stir well.
Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes on a low heat.
Stir in the cream and garam masala. Finally, add the cooked kofta and warm through.
Serve 2-3 kofra each, with rice or chapattis.
Alternatives: If you don't have a selection of dried spices, replace them with 2 tsp of curry paste/powder in the kofta and 1 tbsp in the sauce (use a medium paste/powder). Swap the carrot for squash or sweet potato, if preferred.
Vegan version: Add a tin of drained, blended chickpeas to the kofta instead of paneer for a vegan version.
Suitable for freezing. Freeze the kofta and sauce separately. For starters, why not try poppadoms with dips and onion salad?