Koftas are fried dumplings usually made with vegetables like bottle gourd or paneer or meat and cooked in a rich tomato and cream sauce. Everyone loves the rich creaminess of malai kofta. I wasn’t sure if a vegan version would be good enough. Surprisingly this version got the tick from the family. I don’t favour vegan cheese or vegan cream. I always feel it has a lingering after taste. That’s why in my no cream, no paneer version, I made with cashew nuts and tofu. Trust me, no one would be able to sniff the tofu and will convert even the worst sceptic.

Malai Kofta – the process



300g firm tofu

100g potato, boiled, peeled and grated

1tbsp onion powder

2tsps sesame seeds

½tsp chilli powder

½tsp turmeric

3tbsps potato flour

Small handful of sultanas soaked

Oil for deep frying the koftas


50g cashew nuts, soaked in warm water

4-5 cloves garlic

1-2 green chillies

1tsp garam masala powder


250g onions, half finely diced and other half chopped

7cms piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

8 large stems and root of green coriander

400g tinned tomatoes

3tbsps vegetable oil

4-5 cardamom pods

3-4 centimetres of cinnamon stick

1 green capsicum, sliced thinly

1tsp sugar

Salt to taste


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan. When hot, add the ginger and coarsely chopped onion. Fry until you can smell the ginger. Then empty the tin of tomatoes along with coriander stems and root. Add 500ml water and bring the pot up to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes. When cool enough, blend well with a stick blender. Set aside.

Prepare the spice paste, by putting the contents for the spice paste in the smallest jar of your food processor. Just pulse for a couple of times and then add a few tablespoons of water. Once the cashew pieces are all broken down, then add 125ml water and blitz till the mixture resembles cream. Set aside.

Wrap tofu in kitchen paper and weigh it down for 15 minutes to make it moisture free. Place tofu in a small bowl and use a fork to break it down. Mix with the grated potato, potato flour, sesame seeds and turmeric and chilli powders. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Make 18-20 balls or koftas with this mixture.

Heat oil to 180 degrees C (or if you add a small piece of the mix, it should spring up to the top immediately) in a kadai or a small sauce pan. Use the palm of your less dominant hand, place a ball of mixture and flatten it. Place a couple of sultanas in the centre and fold back to a ball shape. Deep fry a few at a time in the oil until golden. Remove fried balls with a slotted spoon and let them drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the rest.

Take a large fry pan and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon. Fry the spices for a minute and add the finely chopped onions. Fry for 10 minutes or so until they are brown and reduced in half. Mix in the cashew paste and fry for a couple of minutes on low heat. Add the prepared tomato sauce and let it gently simmer for ten minutes. Toss in the sliced capsicum and continue cooking for a couple more minutes.

Malai kofta served with amaranth flour rotis

Gently mix in the fried koftas and cook for a further 3 -5 minutes. The koftas are quite fragile so pays not to mix as you may break the koftas. Serve hot with rotis. Serves 6-8 as part of an Indian feast.

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