Vegan Malai Kofta

This recipe is a bit time consuming but with a little bit of  preparation you can speed up the process.

Just like any other Indian dish, it needs a lot of cooking time but the final dish is delicious and super satisfying.

Malai is Hindi for cream and kofta  is derived from Persian kūfta which basically means meatballs. However the dish Malai Kofta is always vegetarian, unless mentioned otherwise. So if I had to break down the dish for you- it means ground vegetarian balls (mostly made out of potatoes) in a cream rich curry sauce.

There are many variations to the way people make kofta for this dish, but I like to keep it simple because eventually you have to put koftas in the curry where they soak up a lot of the flavorful liquid.

I added  some shredded carrots and raisins along with some spices to the mashed potato…made medium size rounds out of it and deep fried it. The carrots and raisins add sweetness to the kofta which compliments the curry sauce in the final dish.

Traditionally you would add cream to the sauce, but I used a poppy seed paste to substitute the cream. It not only makes the sauce vegan but also cuts down on the calories.

You want to buy the white poppy seeds also known as Khus in Hindi for this recipe. You soak the poppy seeds in some warm water and then blend it to form a smooth and creamy paste.

Since its a relatively time consuming recipe, you can speed up the process by making the koftas in advance..prepare the potato, make  koftas and leave them in the fridge for up-to 2 days in advance. You can freeze them for a longer time. Just deep fry them the day you want to make the dish.

You can serve it over rice or with Indian flat-breads like naan, roti etc. or even pita bread.

Serving upto 4 people

cooking time 2 hours

Things You Will Need:

For Kofta

4 medium size potatoes, boiled peeled mashed

1/2 cup  tofu, crumbled

1 small carrot, shredded

1/4 cup raisins

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbs ground cumin

2 tsp garam masala (optional)


oil for frying

Slightly steam the shredded carrots (with some water in the microwave for about a minute). Let cool (room temperature) and squeeze out all the excess water. In a big mixing bowl Add all the ingredients and mix well. Using your hands make medium size balls and deep fry them. You want a nice golden color. Keep aside.

For the Curry Sauce

2 medium tomatoes, pureed

1 large red onion, pureed

1/4 cup poppy seeds, soaked in warm water for an hour

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tbs ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp turmeric

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbs sugar

3 tbs oil


2 1/2 cups water

Strain the poppy seeds and puree in a blender with little water at a time. You might have to open the lid and scrape the sides and add a little more water and do it a few times before it turns into a smooth paste.

In a saucepan, heat up oil on medium low, add the cinnamon and let it cook till gets fragrant (about 30 to 40 seconds). Add the pureed onions and cook till it all the moisture has evaporated and it turns brown. Add cumin, coriander, garam masala, salt and cook for another minute. Add poppy seed paste and and cook for another minute. Add tomato puree and turmeric and cook till you start noticing small oil drops on the side of the mixture. It will turn into a thick paste and deepen in color. Add tomato paste, mix well and add water and mix well. Add sugar, cover and let it simmer for about 15 minutes on low. Adjust the thickness of the sauce- if it looks too watery after cooking for 15 min, let it simmer some more uncovered for a few minutes, if it looks too thick, add some more water and cook for few more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the koftas to the curry a few minutes before you are ready to serve it. The koftas will soak up a good amount of liquid, so you don’t want to to leave them in there for very long. Serve hot!