Malai Kofta

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. Cook: 25 min.


20 kofta (4 cups gravy)

Updated: Jun. 27, 2023
Learn how to make malai kofta! This popular Indian recipe consists of delicious potato and cheese balls in a velvety tomato-based curry sauce. The air fryer lightens up the traditionally deep-fried dumplings, while the pressure cooker makes putting together the curry sauce effortless. —Soniya Saluja, The Belly Rules the Mind


  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 8 ounces paneer, crumbled, or 1 cup 4% cottage cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • 2 tablespoons salted cashews
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, optional


  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Mash potatoes; cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat air fryer to 375°. In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, paneer, cardamom and salt until combined. Spoon 2 tablespoons of potato mixture in lightly greased hands and flatten to 1/8 in. thick. Press a raisin and cashew in the center; bring sides up to enclose. Gently roll into a ball. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Spritz fryer basket with cooking spray. Working in batches if needed, place balls in a single layer in basket lined with parchment. Cook until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for the gravy, in a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker, combine tomatoes, yogurt, water, cashews, ginger garlic paste and 1 teaspoon red chili powder. Lock lid; close pressure-release valve. Adjust to pressure-cook on high for 6 minutes. Quick-release pressure. Puree mixture using an immersion blender until smooth. Strain mixture, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Wipe insert clean.
  4. Select saute setting and adjust for medium heat; add ghee. When ghee is hot, add garam masala and remaining 1 teaspoon red chili powder; cook, stirring constantly, until very fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in strained tomato mixture and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture is slightly thickened, 5-8 minutes. Add fenugreek and, if desired, cream; cook 1 minute. Pour mixture over kofta.

Malai Kofta Recipe Tips

What is malai kofta?

Malai kofta is a popular vegetarian Indian recipe of fried balls in a rich, creamy sauce. In English, malai means "cream" and kofta means "fried balls." This malai kofta recipe uses potatoes and paneer to form the balls. For best results, use homemade paneer.

Are there other variations of this malai kofta recipe?

Yes! You can make the following substitutions, depending on your dietary preferences.
  • For vegan malai kofta: Use tofu and oil instead of paneer and ghee.
  • For nut-free malai kofta: Instead of cashews, use additional heavy cream and nut-free sunflower seed butter.
  • For slightly sweeter malai kofta: Use sweet potatoes or raw bananas instead of the potatoes.

How do you make malai kofta gravy extra creamy?

Use heavy or light cream for the creamiest texture, and blend and strain the gravy for the smoothest consistency.

How do you stop the kofta from breaking apart?

To prevent your kofta from breaking, make sure the paneer and potatoes are boiled and grated instead of mashed. Also, mix the ingredients well—the potatoes will help bind the kofta.

Research contributed by Soniya Saluja

Nutrition Facts

4 kofta with about 3/4 cup gravy: 442 calories, 26g fat (13g saturated fat), 63mg cholesterol, 386mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate (15g sugars, 4g fiber), 16g protein.