Malai Kofta

Malai Kofta is a popular North Indian vegetarian dish. Kofta can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, made with meat, fish or in this case with homemade chenna. These Koftas are first deep fried and then served on a bed of smooth, sweet and creamy gravy. As you might imagine, there are a few steps to this recipe. The first step is making the paneer. The second step is making the mawa. The third step is making the garam masala. Fourth is boiling the potatoes. The good news is, all of these steps can be done a day or two ahead of time so the actual time you spend making this recipe is very significantly reduced. 

It has become increasingly difficult to get hold of store bought mawa these days. Here in Rochester, MN where we have about 3 Indian groceries, mawa was always difficult to get hold of to begin with. With the Covid situation and the changing times with supplies running low and people having difficulty transporting ingredients from different parts of the country and even internationally, getting hold of speciality items like mawa is an achievement in itself. So this homemade mawa recipe works like a charm. I learned about the quick homemade mawa recipe from my lovely talented friend Bina @abitwholesomely. Mawa coincidentally and to the surprise of many, can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

The ingredients in the garam masala powder might seem like it has everything except the kitchen sink but trust me, the end result is superb. You can do a big batch by doubling or tripling the amount and storing the mix in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh for a long time. Of course you can also get store bought garam masala which works perfectly well @sarchakra

COOK TIME: 40 mins

PREP TIME: 80 mins

YIELDS: Makes for 5-6

For the Paneer  

  • Milk ½ gallon
  • Vinegar

Making the Paneer 

  • Heat milk till it boils. Add in vinegar. Turn the heat off. Stir.
  • Let the milk curdle and the whey separate. Strain.
  • Squeeze out all the water using a cheesecloth. Keep aside. 

For the Mawa  

  • Cream 2 cups
  • Evaporated milk 1 can 

Making the Mawa 

Using evaporated milk means you are about 40 mins ahead of the game as 60% of the water content from the milk has already been removed. In a heavy bottomed nonstick pan pour the cream. Mix in the evaporated milk and combine. Let this mixture cook on the gas till it becomes thick. Stir intermittently so that it does not burn or stick to the bottom. This is one of those recipes that you have to baby sit a bit. You cannot leave this and go. Notice the change in the mixture- from liquid it keeps getting thicker and finally also changes color. Stop when the mixture comes together in a soft lump. Let it cool down. We will need 1/2 cup of this mixture for this recipe. Store the rest in the freezer for later use. If you don’t fancy making mawa from scratch that will take more than an hour to prepare, there are other simple ways to prepare mawa at a fraction of the time. I will post those recipes very soon. Stay tuned. 

For the Garam Masala Powder 

  • Coriander seeds (dhania) 2 tbsp 
  • Cumin seeds (jeera) 1 tbsp 
  • Star anise (chakri phool)  ½ 
  • Dried red chilies 2, broken 
  • Bay leaf (tej patta) 1, broken 
  • Fennel seeds (saunf) 2 tsp 
  • Caraway seeds (shah jeera) 1 tsp 
  • Black cardamom (badi elaichi) 1 
  • Peppercorns (kali mirch) 2 tsp 
  • Green cardamoms  (elaichi) 3-4 
  • Cinnamon (dalchini) 1 inch 
  • Cloves  (laung) 3-4 
  • Mace (javitri) 2 stands 
  • Nutmeg (jaiphal)  ½ 
  • Dry ginger 1 tsp

Making the Garam Masala

  • Take a non stick pan. Dry roast the spices EXCEPT dry ginger on a low heat.
  • Cool completely before grinding into a fine powder with a coffee grinder.
  • Add the ginger powder. Store in a air tight container in the fridge. I store a lot of my homemade spices in the fridge or freezer. I find that they retain their fragrance and freshness really well that way. 

For the Malai Kofta 

  • Paneer 1 cup
  • Boiled potato 3, mashed 
  • Corn flour ¼ cup 
  • Garam masala powder 2 tsp 
  • Salt to taste 
  • Ginger 1 tbsp, grated 
  • Coriander powder 1 tbsp 
  • Turmeric 1 tbsp 
  • Red chili powder 1 tbsp 
  • Cashews a small handful, broken into bits 
  • Golden raisins a small handful
  • Oil for frying 

For the Gravy 

  • Onion 1 large, chopped 
  • Tomato 1 large, chopped 
  • Tomato paste 1 tbsp 
  • Turmeric 2 tsp 
  • Red chili powder 1 tbsp 
  • Oil 3 tbsp 
  • Sugar 2 tsp 
  • Garam masala powder 2 tsp 
  • Mawa- ½ cup 
  • Water 1 cup 
  • Kasuri methi 2 tsp 
  • Cream 2 tbsp 


  • Add all the ingredients for the kofta in a large bowl. Make into round lemon sized balls with the palm of your hands.
  • Heat oil. Fry 6 koftas at a time taking care not to overcrowd the pan so the temperature does not drop. This prevents the koftas from absorbing too much oil and becoming soggy. Drain on kitchen towels. Keep aside.  
  • In a non stick pan pour 1 cup of water and onion slices. Let it cook covered for 10 mins. Turn the heat off. Cool the onion mixture. Grind the mixture to a smooth paste. Keep aside. 
  • Cut tomato into cubes. Put them in a blender and make a smooth purée. 
  • Heat 3 tbsp oil. Pour in the onion paste. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato purée and tomato paste. Season with salt, turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala powder. Let it cook on a low flame till the oil floats. 
  • Add the mawa. Let the mawa melt into the gravy. Add 1 cup of water. Cook covered for 10 mins or so till the oil floats. Turn the heat off. 
  • Put the Kofta balls on the gravy.  
  • Crush kasuri methi in your hands and sprinkle on the gravy. Drizzle with cream. Serve. 


Making the mawa
Mawa is ready
Making a paste of the boiled onions
Tomato purée
Kofta ingredients
The koftas
Frying the malai kofta
Koftas are fried
Cooking the onions
Adding the tomatoes
Adding the masalas
Adding the koftas: Malai Kofta is ready
Malai Kofta

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