Paneer Kofta

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins

100 grams Paneer or 1 cup grated paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
▢2 potatoes – medium to large – 200 grams, boiled, peeled and grated
▢¼ teaspoon red chili powder
▢2 tablespoons cornflour (cornstarch) or tapioca starch
▢¼ teaspoon Garam Masala
▢3 tablespoons almond flour or 2 tablespoons milk powder or 3 tablespoons khoya (mawa or dried evaporated milk solids)
▢salt as required
▢oil for deep frying, as required, any high smoke point neutral oil
For Stuffing Kofta – Optional
▢10 to 12 cashews
▢1 tablespoon raisins
For Gravy

▢3 tablespoons oil – any neutral oil
▢½ cup onion paste or about 2 medium to large onions or 1 heaped cup chopped onions
▢2 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste or 1 inch ginger, 4 to 5 garlic cloves crushed in a mortar
▢1 cup Tomato Puree or about 2 medium to large tomatoes
▢¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
▢¼ teaspoon fennel powder – optional
▢¼ teaspoon cumin powder
▢1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or ½ tsp cayenne or red chilli powder
▢1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
▢¼ teaspoon Garam Masala

▢6 to 7 tablespoons cashew paste – 12 to 15 cashews soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and blended to a smooth paste with 2 to 3 tbsp water
▢½ to 1 teaspoon sugar or as required
▢salt as required
▢2 cups water or add as required
▢1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
▢2 tablespoons light cream or cooking cream or 1 tablespoon heavy or whipping cream – optional
Whole Spices
▢1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
▢1 inch cinnamon
▢1 black cardamom – optional
▢2 green cardamoms

▢2 single strands of mace or a light pinch of ground mace powder
▢2 cloves
For Garnish
▢1 to 2 tablespoons grated paneer (cottage cheese) – optional
▢1 or 2 tablespoons light cream or whipping cream – optional
▢2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) or some mint leaves sprigs

Making Paneer Kofta

Mix all the ingredients mentioned under “For making paneer kofta” ingredient list except oil in a bowl.
Rinse with water if you prefer and finely chop 10 to 12 cashews and 1 tablespoon raisins. Set aside. This will be the sweet-tangy and crunchy stuffing for the kofta.
Make medium sized balls from the kofta mixture. If it feels sticky, rub some oil on your palms before shaping the kofta.
Flatten one kofta ball lightly with your palms on a chopping board or a rolling board. Place a small portion of the cashews and raisins stuffing on it.
Gently bringing the edges together, shape into a neat ball. Rub some oil in your palms while shaping. Make sure that the stuffing remains in the center of the kofta.
Fill and shape all the kofta in this manner.
Cover with a lid and set aside at room temperature or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Making Kofta Gravy
Heat oil in a thick bottomed or heavy pan or skillet.
Add all the whole spices and fry for a few seconds or until the spices crackle and the oil becomes fragrant.
First add the onion paste. Stirring often sauté the onion paste until it becomes golden. To quicken the cooking of onions, add a few pinches of salt when you begin to sauté the paste.
When the onion paste has become golden, add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for about ten seconds or until the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic goes away.
Add the tomato puree and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes on a low to medium-low heat.
Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, fennel powder, kashmiri red chili powder, garam masala powder.
Mix well and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes stirring often.
Add cashew paste. Mix well and sauté until the oil starts to leave the side of the masala paste.
This sautéing takes about 9 to 10 minutes on low to medium-low heat. You will see that the paste becomes lumpy and gathers around itself. It will also become slightly glossy with some oil releasing at the sides.
Then add sugar and salt as per taste.
Add water. Mix thoroughly with a spoon or wired whisk.
Simmer until the gravy begins to thicken. This takes about 8 to 10 minutes on a low to medium-low heat. The consistency of the gravy can be medium-thick to thick. When the gravy is cooked through, you will some oil specks on the top of the gravy.
Lastly add the crushed dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) and cream.
Mix well and set the gravy aside. Check the taste and add more salt or sugar if needed.
Frying Kofta
Heat oil in a frying pan or a wok (kadai).
Before shaping and frying the entire batch, check a small tiny piece of the paneer kofta in hot oil. If it does not break, then you can easily fry the remaining koftas.
If it does break, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch) as a binder. Mix the binder in well, then shape into koftas.
The kofta should also come up swiftly yet gradually in the hot oil. This means the oil is hot enough for the kofta to be fried. If it browns too quickly, the oil is very hot and if the kofta remains at the bottom, the oil is warm.
Carefully add the paneer kofta to the hot oil, being careful not to spatter the oil. The oil should be medium hot and have a temperature of 180 to 190 degrees Celsius (356 to 374 degrees Fahrenheit).
When one side becomes golden, gently turn over with a slotted spoon and fry the second side. Fry turning over a couple of times until golden on both sides.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Working in batches, fry all the paneer kofta this way and drain them on a paper napkin so that the extra oil is absorbed.
Serving Malai Kofta
If serving immediately, add the fried paneer kofta to the gravy in the pan.
Or if you want to serve it in a better way, take some of the gravy in a serving bowl. Place the kofta neatly on the gravy. Drizzle some cream or top with grated paneer. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves or mint leaves and serve.
If serving a few hours later, reheat the gravy until hot. If it looks very thick, add a bit of hot water. Warm the kofta in an oven at 120 degrees Celsius or 250 degrees Fahrenheit for some minutes. Place kofta on the gravy. Add the garnishes and serve.
Note that these paneer kofta are really soft. So if you add them to the gravy and serve them later, they will break. You have to serve them immediately as soon as you add them to the gravy.
Serve malai kofta hot or warm with roti, naan, steamed basmati rice or jeera rice.

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