Malai kofta with a cashew and raisin filling

I first tried this delicious dish when I was travelling through SE Asia. Now before you say “but it’s an Indian dish,” keep in mind that Indian food is delicious anywhere in the world and therefore it made sense at the time to go and enjoy some of it when in Luang Prabang, Lao. After almost 4 months of (amazing) Asian food it was still a nice change and so there I found myself in a little Indian restaurant eating my body weight in paratha’s and curry. Again and again (and maybe even again).

Malai kofta is a mildly spiced, sweet, creamy vegetarian curry with fried dumplings made of paneer and potato. To give them an extra dimension I like to fill these little ‘dumplings’ with a delicious cashew and raisin filling. Like many Indian dishes, the flavour gets built up, laying the foundation from the beginning by frying off the spices in oil, infusing the fragrance into the core of the dish. It is relatively easy to make but takes a little time to prepare as I also make my own paneer. You could obviously also use store bought paneer but as it is so easy to make and inexpensive I think it’s a waste. Find out how to make your own paneer HERE


INGREDIENTS

FOR THE KOFTA

  • 120g paneer, grated or pulsed in a food processor (recipe for paneer HERE)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, boiled and grated or pulsed in a food processor
  • ¼ tsp paprika powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ garam masala/rash el hanout
  • 2-3 tbsp corn flour (1 tbsp for kofta and 2 tbsp for rolling the kofta through before frying)
  • 1 tsp almond or coconut flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • Oil for shallow frying

FOR THE FILLING

  • 20 cashew nuts (if you don’t have cashews feel free to use almonds)
  • A handful raisins (alternatively 4-5 dates)
  • A pinch of salt

FOR THE FRAGRANT OIL

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or any other vegetable oil)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

FOR THE CURRY

  • 125g onions, pureed in food processor
  • 250g passata (tomato puree)
  • 80g cashew/almonds, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, pureed in food processor with a little milk
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds/powder
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Thumb sized piece ginger, crushed
  • 100ml water
  • 300ml milk
  • Salt to season
  • 1 tbsp sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix kofta ingredients (except the oil and 2 tbsp. of corn flour), roll into twelve balls and put aside.
  2. Mix filling ingredients in a food processor until it sticks together.
  3. With your thumb press in the middle of the kofta to make a pocket for the filling. Press some of the cashew/raisin mixture together and gently push in kofta, making sure not to break the kofta. Pinch the edges together to close and roll back into a ball. Repeat with each kofta.
  4. Roll the kofta through the rest of the corn flour so that they are coated evenly.
  5. Make the fragrant oil by heating the (coconut) oil, adding in the spices and frying them for a few minutes until the oil is fragrant.
  6. To make the curry, fry the onion puree until golden, add in the garlic and ginger paste and cook for a 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add in the spices, the passata and the cashew paste and simmer for a few minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the paste doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Mix the water and milk and add to curry mixture. Simmer for about 15 minutes to thicken.
  9. Add in the sugar, salt and fenugreek and simmer until the sugar has dissolved into the curry.
  10. Fry the kofta in portions of 3-4 until golden and crisp.  Don’t overcrowd the pan as it will cool down too much and the kofta will soak up the oil. When taking the kofta out of the oil put on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  11. Serve with rice, paratha or naan bread and garnish with coriander.

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