Hello world! Did you all miss me? 😀 Well I missed you all, even if ya’ll didn’t miss me 😉 Life has taken a busy turn and I find myself away from cooking a lot lately. Also, temperatures of 35 C and up aren’t quite that great when it comes to slaving in the kitchen. Now if only someone would invent a portable air-conditioner we could wear…..oh well, wishful thinking right there! Anywho, let’s get back to business shall we? What’s cooking!?
It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, I have, it’s just not been blog-worthy….aka, I haven’t had time to cook, plate, set and click. Survivalist meals and curries have been my best friend, and the little time I manage to find free, I end up snoozing on my keyboard So trust me when I tell you, this dish is no labour-intensive feat either. Here’s presenting my very simple, very delish, Paneer Malai Kofta….also known as, Fried Cottage Cheese Dumplings in a Cream Sauce 🙂
Kofta, Kafta, Kofteh, however you spell it, is a delicious mouthful (or many mouthfuls) in itself, but the addition of various gravies gives them a completely different dimension. Now we know that koftas are usually made with meat, especially when served as a part of Middle Eastern, Arabic, Balkan, Greek, Turkish, South Asian cuisine. It is perhaps only in India where you get the vegetarian cousins of these meatballs. And the most common version is, of course, paneer. Cottage cheese, or paneer is a wonderful choice for making koftas, especially when dunked in a rich gravy.
Kofta, Kafta, Kofteh, however you spell it, is a delicious mouthful (or many mouthfuls) in itself; minced meat mixed with spices, condiments and a binding agent that is then fried, and usually served with a gravy. Koftas are an intrinsic part of Middle Eastern, Balkan, Central Asian, South Asian, Turkish, Greek and Indian cuisine, though they may vary in shape, size and form. For instance, vegetarian Koftas are usually only served in India.
Usually made with boiled potatoes and/or paneer (cottage cheese), Kofta curries are a common Indian delicacy. I believe most Kofta curries have a tomato-based gravy, but personally I prefer a white gravy….and also, this is my take on one of my favourite dishes, Malai Kofta, which includes koftas made with boiled potatoes that are stuffed with a mixture of Paneer, Mawa/Khoya and dry fruits. I haven’t done any of that though 🙂 Mine is a simpler version, and took no more than 15 minutes…(if you forget the kneading and making of the koftas).
P.S – I stuffed some grated cheese inside the koftas, just because I love cheese 😉 You can skip it altogether, or just add some crushed nuts, or even a piece of raisin.
I must tell you, this gravy is on the sweeter side, not overtly so though, but it’s not spicy. To balance, I added a dish of chili flakes, and made a cilantro-chili oil, that, when drizzled over, works wonders. You can serve this either with rice, or with roti/flatbread of choice. It goes well with both sides, though I had this with rice today.
For the Koftas:
- Paneer/Cottage Cheese or Chenna – 200 gm (I made my own)
- Cornflour – 2 tbsp approx
- Salt – to taste
- Paprika powder – 1/2 tsp
- Grated cheese – 1/4 cup
- Refined oil – for deep frying
For the Gravy:
- Onions – 2 large, roughly chopped
- Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
- Garlic – 5 to 7 cloves
- Cashew nuts – 7 to 8
- Melon seeds/Charmagaz – 1 tbsp
- Curd – 2 tbsp
- Fresh Cream or Homemade Malai – 1/2 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Sugar – 1 tbsp
- Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
- Cayenne Pepper/Chili powder – 1/4 tsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- If using homemade chenna or paneer, work on it while warm. If using store-bought paneer, grate it finely first.
- Knead the chenna/paneer well, until it is smooth and lump-free; it shouldn’t feel grainy when rubbed between your fingers.
- To this, add the cornflour, salt and paprika powder. Knead well.
- Make oblong or round shaped koftas, and inside each, stuff about 1/2 tbsp of grated cheese. (this is optional…you may add some crushed dry fruits or a piece of raisin).
- Keep the koftas on a greased/oiled plate, separated from each other so they don’t stick.
- Heat a deep-bottomed pan with enough oil to deep fry.
- When the oil is smoking hot (check by dropping a tiny piece of dough first), add the koftas, ensuring to leave enough space. Add in batches.
- They will take about a minute or less to brown; we do not want to burn them.
- Immediately scoop out on to a plate and let excess oil drain.
- Meanwhile, in a pressure cooker, boil the onions, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and melon seeds. Alternately, you may blanch them, or skip this step and make a paste directly.
- Don’t make them mushy, one whistle should be enough. When pressure releases, let the onions, etc cool.
- Once cooled, blend them into a smooth paste; use the water used for boiling if paste is too thick.
- Heat a pan with a tbsp of oil, we don’t need much. To this, add the blended paste of the boiled onions, garlic, ginger, melon seeds and cashews.
- On medium heat, saute until the paste loses its raw smell…about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir constantly or it might burn.
- Once the masala paste begins to caramelize on the sides, add the dry spices, sugar and stir.
- Whisk the curd and cream together with the sugar, and add to the gravy.
- Mix everything well, and add salt, and a cup of water.
- Once the gravy starts to boil, add the koftas, and simmer for 4 to 6 minutes, or until gravy is thick and creamy.
- Switch off heat, and ladle Paneer-Malai Kofta on to serving bowls.
- Serve hot with rice or roti.