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Creamy and delicious Malai Kofta are vegetarian dumplings prepared in a cashew gravy. This kofta is NOT fried but rather pan-fried.  

Growing up, it was such a big deal when my mom made Malai Kofta. This dish is indulgent and a labor of love, hence it’s one to prepare around the festive season, like Diwali.

No Fry Malai Kofta

This is a healthy Malai Kofta, if you will, so there is no frying involved, instead, I sauteed the kofta balls in avocado oil. Although fried kofta is the absolute best, this is not that far off. The end result is so tasty and delicious, my husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law all loved it. 

This recipe is very similar to my No Butter, No Cream Paneer Makhani.

Does Malai Kofta even taste good with No Butter, No Cream?

Yup, it does! Trust me – my husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law all loved this dish.

There is no butter in this dish, however if you want a little indulgence on Diwali, you can always add a tablespoon of butter – I have indicated this in the recipe directions.

Additionally, in my recipe, I skipped the cream and instead used whole milk for a creamier texture. Alternatively, you can also use water because the gravy is prepared with cashews which already lends a rich texture. With that said, for garnish and mouthwatering pictures, I did add 2 teaspoons of heavy cream on top.
Malai Kofta (no fry, no butter, no cream, GF)

Tips for making NO FRY Malai Kofta

  • Two-step process – make the sauce and make the kofta.
  • To speed things up – make the sauce and kofta side by side, so when the sauce is cooking down, you can work on making the kofta.
  • To make the sauce – do not overcook the onions and tomatoes, you don’t’ want to brown the onions or tomatoes in this dish else the color of the dish will change.
  • For the onions – make sure you use white onions, do not use red onions because the color of this dish will change.
  • To make the kofta – make sure you grate the potatoes and paneer so there are no little bits and everything is nice and smooth.
  • When making the kofta, make sure you add cashews and raisins – it adds a really nice texture and flavor to the kofta.
  • I didn’t fry the kofta, instead, I sauteed them on a castiron skillet with 1 tbsp of avocado oil, and later added another 1/2 tbsp. Make sure you cook the kofta on low-medium heat. Alternatively, you may use an air-fryer to make the koftas (I don’t own one).
  • There is no butter or cream in this dish, however for some indulgence, you can add 1-2 tbsp of butter to the sauce – will give you the option in directions below.
  • Keep the gravy and kofta balls separate because the kofta can easily break if you heat it up with the gravy. Once you’re ready to serve, add the gravy to a serving bowl and top with kofta. 
  • For presentation reasons – I garnished with 2 teaspoons of heavy cream, this makes no difference to the flavor, it was purely for presentation. You can do the same!

Malai Kofta is:

Delicious
Creamy
Sweet & Spicy
Indulgent
Sauteed, NOT Fried
Made with NO CREAM, NO BUTTER
Gluten-Free
Malai Kofta (no fry, no butter, no cream, GF)

How to make Malai Kofta recipe step by step?

Prep

1. Boil 2 russet potatoes (I only used 1, but just in case). For Paneer – add hot water to store-bought paneer and let it sit for 20 minutes. This will help ensure the paneer is soft. 
2. For the gravy – chop the green chilies, garlic, and ginger, Also rough chop the tomatoes and onions – doesn’t have to be finely chopped.

Prepare the Gravy

1. Heat up a dutch oven on medium heat, once hot, add oil followed by a bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, and green cardamom. Saute for a minute.
2. Add the onions. Saute for 2 minutes until translucent. DO NOT BROWN THE ONIONS!
3. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Saute for 2 minutes.
4. Now add the tomatoes followed by salt, coriander powder, red chili powder, Kashmiri chili powder (like paprika), and turmeric powder. Saute for 3 minutes until the tomatoes soften slightly.

5. Add the unsalted cashews. Saute for a minute.
6. Add 2 cups of water. Stir well.
7. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on low-medium heat.

Prepare the Kofta

1. In the meantime – prepare the kofta. In a bowl, grate the softened paneer, boiled potatoes, and ginger. Also add chopped green chilies, cornstarch, salt, fresh cilantro, chopped cashews, raisins, and ground cardamom.
2. Mix well. You’ll need to use your hands to mash the mixture.
3. Evenly divide kofta mixture and form kofta balls. Set aside.

4. In the meantime, check on the gravy – turn off the stove. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Let the gravy mixture cool down for 10 minutes before blending.

5. Back to the Kofta – heat up a castiron skillet on low-medium heat. Let the castiron heat up for 4-5 minutes until nice and hot. Add 1 tbsp avocado oil. Swirl the oil around.
6. Place all the koftas on the skillet. Let the koftas brown slightly for 2 minutes.
7. Using a spatula, gently move the koftas around. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
8. Notice the koftas are starting to brown. Cook on all sides little by little. Start moving the koftas to an area where the oil settles – my oil tends to flow towards the right, so I moved my koftas to the right. Cook for about 5 minutes – turning occasionally.
10. At this time I added another 1/2 tbsp of oil, cook the koftas on the sides where it’s still white. This will take about 5 more minutes.
11. Now the koftas are done. Don’t over brown them, but make sure it has a nice golden brown color. Turn off the stove and set aside.

Blend the Gravy

1. Transfer the cooled gravy to a NutriBullet or blender. 
2. Blend until nice and smooth, about 1 minute.
3. Pour the gravy through a sieve and back into the same dutch oven pot.
4. Add milk (we are not adding cream). Stir.
5. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.

6. Once done, this is what you should have. Taste the gravy, adjust salt as needed.
7. Add dry Kasoori methi leaves. Optional: if you want, add a tbsp of butter for extra indulgence.

Garnish

1. Add gravy to a serving bowl followed by koftas. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a sprinkle of Kashmiri red chili, and I used 2 teaspoons of heavy cream for photography and presentation.
Malai Kofta (no fry, no butter, no cream, GF)

 

Enjoy with Roti/Rice!
Malai Kofta (no fry, no butter, no cream, GF)

 

More Indulgent Diwali Dishes!

 

5 from 9 votes

Malai Kofta (no fry, no butter, no cream, GF)

By: Nisha
Creamy and delicious Malai Kofta are vegetarian dumplings prepared in a cashew gravy. This kofta is NOT fried but rather pan-fried.  
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

for the gravy

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1- inch stick cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1- inch ginger, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder, paprika
  • 1/4 tsp red chili powder, cayenne
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 2 cups water, add a little more while straining if needed
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves, Kasoori Methi
  • 1 tbsp butter, optional

for the kofta

  • 1 1/2 tbsp avocado oil, divided
  • 1 cup paneer, store-bought, soaked in hot water, grated
  • 1 cup potato, boiled & grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cashews, chopped
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt

for garnish

  • fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • sprinkle of Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tsp heavy cream, optional
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Instructions 

Prep

  • Boil 2 russet potatoes (I only used 1, but just in case). For Paneer - add hot water to store-bought paneer and let it sit for 20 minutes. This will help ensure the paneer is soft.
  • For the gravy - chop the green chilies, garlic, and ginger, Also rough chop the tomatoes and onions - doesn't have to be finely chopped.

Prepare the Gravy

  • Heat up a dutch oven on medium heat, once hot, add oil followed by a bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, and green cardamom. Saute for a minute.
  • Add the onions. Saute for 2 minutes until translucent. DO NOT BROWN THE ONIONS!
  • Add the ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the tomatoes followed by salt, coriander powder, red chili powder, Kashmiri chili powder (like paprika), and turmeric powder. Saute for 3 minutes until the tomatoes soften slightly.
  • Add the unsalted cashews. Saute for a minute.
  • Add 2 cups of water. Stir well.
  • Cover and cook for 5 minutes on low-medium heat.

Prepare the Kofta

  • In the meantime - prepare the kofta. In a bowl, grate the softened paneer, boiled potatoes, and ginger. Also add chopped green chilies, cornstarch, salt, fresh cilantro, chopped cashews, raisins, and ground cardamom.
  • Mix well. You'll need to use your hands to mash the mixture.
  • Evenly divide kofta mixture and form kofta balls. Set aside.
  • In the meantime, check on the gravy - turn off the stove. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Let the gravy mixture cool down for 10 minutes before blending.
  • Back to the Kofta - heat up a castiron skillet on low-medium heat. Let the castiron heat up for 4-5 minutes until nice and hot. Add 1 tbsp avocado oil. Swirl the oil around.
  • Place all the koftas on the skillet. Let the koftas brown slightly for 2 minutes.
  • Using a spatula, gently move the koftas around. Let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
  • Notice the koftas are starting to brown. Cook on all sides little by little. Start moving the koftas to an area where the oil settles - my oil tends to flow towards the right, so I moved my koftas to the right. Cook for about 5 minutes - turning occasionally.
  • At this time I added another 1/2 tbsp of oil, cook the koftas on the sides where it's still white. This will take about 5 more minutes.
  • Now the koftas are done. Don't over brown them, but make sure it has a nice golden brown color. Turn off the stove and set aside.

Blend the Gravy

  • Transfer the cooled gravy to a NutriBullet or blender.
  • Blend until nice and smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the gravy through a sieve and back into the same dutch oven pot.
  • Add milk (we are not adding cream). Stir.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.
  • Once done, this is what you should have. Taste the gravy, adjust salt as needed.
  • Add dry Kasoori methi leaves. Optional: if you want, add a tbsp of butter for extra indulgence.

Garnish

  • Add gravy to a serving bowl followed by koftas. Garnish with fresh cilantro, a sprinkle of Kashmiri red chili, and I used 2 teaspoons of heavy cream for photography and presentation.

Nutrition

Calories: 480kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 620mg | Potassium: 657mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 887IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 365mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Tried this recipe?Mention @honeywhatscooking or tag #honeywhatscooking!

Hi, I'm Nisha!

I'm a foodie who is passionate about healthy-ish living and mindful eating. You'll find a bit of everything here. I use mostly organic real ingredients and incorporate seasonal produce in my cooking. I believe food is medicine. Join me on this soul-searching journey as I share my love for good food, and I hope I inspire you to eat better somewhere along the way.


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9 Comments

  1. IF you are adding milk in the recipe then the whole purpose of healthy is in vain.
    MILK and SALT are a toxic combination; it causes skin problems.

    1. Hi Astha – this recipe is NOT healthy. It is a healthier option compared to the traditional malai kofta. My recipes aren’t based on what’s good for your skin. Feel free to omit what you don’t see fit.

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! I never deep fry anything, so I was so happy to find this pan-fried version of kofta. It was delicious and loved by my whole family!