Mughlai Malai Kofta

Paneer and potato croquettes in a creamy spiced tomato curry

A traditional curry hailing from the north of India; malai koftas are vegetarian koftas or croquettes made with spiced potato and paneer (Indian cottage cheese) steeped in a tomato curry. It’s a favourite at family dinners; an absolute crowd pleaser and made during celebrations given the list of ingredients and the cooking time. I shared this family recipe in my cookbook Indian Kitchen and have had so many emails and messages to share it on the website too.

The koftas are made with potato and paneer; sometimes the potato is stuffed with paneer and dry fruits although I have mixed the two so the flavour is more uniform in every bite with the spices, ginger and chilli. The koftas can also be fried and served as a snack with green chutney or tamarind chutney. You can also add some chopped veg to the kofta mix like carrots or green beans just make sure they are grated or finely chopped to help keep the shape. Kofta mix also includes corn flour which works as a great binder and hold their shape when you fry although if while frying the koftas are too soft add a little more corn flour to the mix and knead well before reshaping to fry.


  1. Add the cashew nuts to a bowl with 50mls warm water and soften for 30 minutes. Blend the garlic, ginger and chilli with a splash of water to a smooth paste. Set aside.

  2. Add the onion to a blender and blend to a smooth fine paste with 50mls of water. Set aside. In the same blender add the tomatoes, blend to a fine puree and set aside

  3. Now separately blend the soaked cashew nuts with some of the soaking liquid until it is smooth and creamy. Set aside.

  4. For the kofta; Coarsely grate the potatoes and mash well to a smooth mix. To this add all the kofta ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Knead lightly to a dough like consistency. Cover and cling film until ready to fry.

  5. To cook the gravy heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan. Add the cloves and cinnamon stick and fry for a few seconds. Add the slit green chilli followed by the onion paste and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir well making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan as the moisture begins to evaporate.

  6. Add the ginger garlic and chilli paste and fry for 2 minutes. Stir and add blended tomatoes along with the tomato puree. Mix and cook for 6-7 minutes. The sauce will begin to reduce and go a deeper red colour

  7. At this stage add the chilli powder and the cashew nut paste. Stir well and cook for a further 2 minutes, lower the heat and add water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

  8. Add the sugar, garam masala and mango powder. Season to taste and garnish with coriander. Turn the off and keep warm.

  9. To fry the koftas – Divide the kofta mix into equal portions. Take a portion in the palm of your hand and roll into cylindrical shape. Make sure they are shaped well or else they will fall apart while frying.

  10. Fry them in batches no more than two or three at a time for 3-4 minutes or until they go crispy golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.

    Add the warm gravy to a serving dish and steep the koftas just before serving. Accompanied rice, salad and raita.

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