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Malai Kofta – Celebrating 1 year blog anniversary!!

•Recipe & Photos updated on 02/01/2012•

For me, August 14th was the most eventful day in 2009. Apart from my birthday and wait, yes our wedding anniversary and wait wait, the day we got our pet and oh! how could I forget, my husband’s PhD graduation day. Ah! so last year was quite eventful for us. Anyways, August 14th was the day that marked the official end to my boredom. With hubby dear’s encouragement and hard work (he designed my website), I started Ambika’s Kitchen. And, I really have come a long way. Actually, we have come along way. Really. My husband got promoted to the position of ‘Senior taste tester’ and my ‘Web Developer’ and ‘Crisis Manager’ (in the event of cooking disasters, which don’t happen very often, please trust me on this one and don’t ask him)! :)


On a more serious note, this blog cannot do without him, who is there to constantly support me. And by support, I mean that he patiently waits for me to photograph the food before eating it (do you know how difficult that is????) or better yet, he does the photography for me. He is a much better photographer than I. And that’s not all. He urged me to move to my own domain and designed this web page all by himself, my contribution was limited to ideas only. But, I loved playing his boss for a while, telling him ‘I want this and I don’t want this’ !!!! We got a new camera, a Nikon D3000 and I’m learning photography from him.  A very big ‘Thank you’ to the love of my life :)

And I have to thank all you, my followers, subscribers and blogger friends who have been there to appreciate my work. I love it when I receive a new comment on my recipe!! That truly is a food blogger’s delight. Thank you so much!!! Your kind words keep me going :) Please continue to support me as I do not have any early retirement plans! I’m here to stay :).

Now coming to the celebration, here’s the recipe for the most popular North Indian curry (second only to chole/channa masala), Malai Kofta.

‘Malai’ is cream and ‘Kofta’ is dumplings. Vegetable and cottage cheese (paneer) dumplings in a tomato cream sauce, a very rich and creamy curry. We love Malai Kofta and it is a staple whenever we eat out in an Indian restaurant. I have tried making this at home a long time ago, but that attempt was unsuccessful, the koftas did not come together well and separated as soon as I put them in oil. So with a bold heart and a decent amount of determination I tried it again today and I’m very happy to share the result with you all. It took me two hours to make, but that one bite was enough to convince me that it was worth all that time and effort. Got a thumbs up from V also.

If you want to feed a crowd or make this for a party, by all means, go ahead and make the koftas/dumplings one day in advance and refrigerate them. You can warm them up in the oven or microwave and add it to the gravy the next day. You can also do a low fat version by baking the dumplings/koftas in the oven and completely avoid deep frying.

 

Ingredients:

For the Kofta/Dumplings: (makes 12-15 koftas)

Potatoes – 2 large
Paneer – 1 1/2 cups (grated or crumbled)
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Amchur (Dry Mango powder) – 2 tsp (optional, but recommended)
Kasuri Methi – 1 tsp (crushed, optional)
Corn flour/Corn starch – 1/4 cup (or more)
Fresh Bread Crumbs – 1/4 cup (or more)
Salt – to taste
Oil – for deep frying

For the Gravy:

Onions – 2 large
Tomato – 3 medium or 1 cup tomato puree
Green Chili – 2 no.
Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 1/2 Tbsp (I prefer freshly grated ginger and garlic)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chili powder – 2 tsp (use less if you can’t take the heat)
Shahi jeera/Caraway seeds – 1 tsp
Green cardamom – 2 no.
Black Cardamom – 1 no.
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Dried Bay leaves – 2 no.
Mace/Javitri – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 3-4 no.
Garam masala – 2 tsp
Shahi Paneer Masala – 2 Tsp (Optional)
Coriander powder – 1 Tbsp
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Kasuri Methi – 1 Tbsp
Cashew nuts – 1/4 cup
Almonds – 1/4 cup
Heavy cream – 1/4 cup
Oil – 3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp
Cilantro/Coriander leaves – 2 Tbsp (chopped)
Water – as required for the gravy
Salt – to taste

Method:

For the kofta:

  • Boil the potatoes and grate them. Boil the peas until soft and mash them well.

Tip: Always drain the potatoes as soon as you finish boiling them. It will keep it from becoming water lagged. For making koftas/dumplings, it is very important to have very little moisture. Draining immediately ensures this.

  • Combine the boiled, grated potatoes and crumbled paneer in a bowl with rest of the ingredients mentioned for the kofta. Mix well and make small lemon size balls. It is important to roll the balls pretty tightly or they will separate as soon as you drop them in hot oil.
  • Heat oil for deep frying. Drop one ball first and check. If it separates, you need to add more corn flour/bread crumbs to the kofta mixture. Deep fry all the koftas until golden brown and keep aside.

Tip: For a low fat version, bake the kofta balls in a 350 F oven, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed very generously with non stick cooking spray. Line the koftas an inch apart from each other and spray again with the cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 mins and then turn over and bake the other side for 10 mins.

For the Gravy:

  • Soak the almonds and cashews in some hot water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Coarsely chop the onions into big cubes. Boil the onions in some water until they are soft. Drain and cool the onions, and grind into a paste. You won’t need to add any water.
  • Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan and add the shahi jeera, cinnamon, cloves, mace, green cardamom and black cardamom. Saute on low heat for about a minute, until aromatic. Add the boiled onion paste and cook for for about 10 minutes, until slightly brown. Mix in the turmeric powder and ginger garlic paste and cook, stirring often until the raw smell goes away.
  • To make your own tomato puree, make a cross marked slit on one side (not on the eye, the other side) of the tomato. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then drain and drop the tomatoes in ice cold water. Wait for 5 minutes and peel the tomato skin. Grind the peeled tomatoes into a puree.
  • Add the coriander powder, cumin powder and red chilli powder to the onions and saute for a minute, taking care not to burn the masala. Then add the tomato puree to the onions and cook until the raw smell of tomatoes goes away and the gravy starts leaving the sides of the pan and separates the oil.
  • In the meantime peel the soaked almonds. Grind the almonds and cashews into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Then add some water, about 3 cups to the gravy. Mix in garam masala and salt. Cook for another 10 minutes. Take care to add water if the gravy becomes too thick. (let the gravy be thin at this time, it will thicken upon the addition of cashew-almond paste)
  • Next, reduce the heat to low and add the cashew-almond paste to the gravy and cook uncovered, stirring frequently for another 8-10 minutes, until the gravy thickens and the raw taste of cashews and almonds disappears. Take care to stir frequently, or the gravy can get stuck to the bottom of the pan and burn very quickly.
  • Add heavy cream, mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Crush the Kasuri Methi leaves between your palms and add to the simmering gravy. Cook, stirring frequently for another 10 minutes.
  • Switch the heat off and finish with chopped cilantro.
  • Do not add the koftas until about 30 minutes before you are ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, heat the gravy on low heat (sim) and add the koftas. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the koftas have soaked in the flavors of the gravy and become soft. At this point do not stir too much, be gentle. Sprinkle with some garam masala powder, chopped cilantro and serve immediately with some naan, puri, bhatura or rice!!

Creamy and Oh! so tasty!!

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