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Restaurant-Style Vegan Malai Kofta

Restaurant-Style Vegan Malai Kofta

Nisha Vora
This Restaurant-Style Vegan Malai Kofta is the ultimate Indian comfort food! Crispy dumplings in a creamy, spiced curry that will excite your tastebuds! Includes detailed instructions for frying and baking, metric and imperial measurements, a soy-free option, and an in-depth cooking video with lots of tips!
5 from 36 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 45 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6



  • 16 ounces (454g) high-protein or super-firm tofu (can use extra-firm tofu if you can’t find it*)
  • 12 ounces (340-345g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and washed
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch (40g), arrowroot powder (40g), or tapioca flour (37-38g)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup (4g) fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon Indian red chili powder**
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste***
  • 1/4 cup raw or roasted cashews (35g), finely ground up in a food processor****
  • Vegetable oil for rolling and for deep frying


  • 1-2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (or a neutral oil of choice)
  • Whole spices
  • 4-6 whole green cardamom pods (I used 6)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Aromatics
  • 1 extra large yellow onion, or 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilies*****, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Ground Spices
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1-2 teaspoon Indian red chili powder (use less for a milder heat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 extra large tomatoes (16-18 ounces or 480-540g) total, chopped with the juices
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) unsweetened plant-based milk (I used this), or water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Garnishes/for Serving

  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek leaves (also known as kasoori methi; if you don’t have it, just omit)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, chopped (keep the stems)
  • Indian bread (naan or paratha) or white rice


  • Cover the 1 cup cashews with boiling water for 15 minutes, or while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Make the Gravy. Add the cinnamon sticks to a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or coffee grinder and break up into small pieces. Then add the green cardamom pods, cloves, and cumin seeds and break up a bit more. You don’t need to fully grind them, just a little to start releasing their oils.
  • Heat the coconut oil or oil of choice in a large pan over medium high heat. Once melted and hot, add the Whole Spices. Sauté for 45-60 seconds or until very fragrant, tossing frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add the onions and sauté until they start to turn brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, green chilies (if using), and cook for 1 minute, tossing frequently. Add the Ground Spices and stir frequently for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook until broken down and softened, 2-3 minutes. Then add the soaked cashews and salt. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium or medium-low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, opening the pot to stir occasionally, until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
  • Transfer the mixture to a high-powered blender, and add the lemon juice and plant-based milk. Remove the center cap from the blender lid (to vent steam), but cover the hole with a kitchen towel. Blend until the gravy is completely smooth and very creamy. If it’s too thick for your liking, add more plant-based milk or water.
  • Transfer the gravy back to the pan and heat over low. Using your fingers, crush the kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves) into the gravy, and add add 1/2 teaspoon garam masala. Stir to combine. Then, stir in the chopped cilantro.
  • Prep the kofta ingredients
    1. Add the potatoes to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil and boil until the potatoes are just barely fork-tender, not too soft and falling apart. You want them to be firmer than you’d use for mashed potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them sit there while you prep other ingredients. This helps hem dry out and remove excess water.
    2. Add the 1/4 cup cashews to a food processor and blitz until they turn into a finely ground powder. Wipe out the food processor bowl.
    3. Add the tofu to the food processor and pulse many times until it’s in tiny pieces and almost resembles ricotta.
    4. Once the potato is dried out, grate it using a box grater (the side with large holes), or crumble the potato finely using your hands.
  • Make the kofta. Add the grated tofu and potatoes to a large bowl. Add the ground cashew powder, cornstarch (or tapioca or arrowroot), minced ginger, cilantro, red chili powder, garam masala, and salt. Knead with your hands until the dough holds together.
  • Roll the dough into 18 uniform-sized balls, about 40-50 grams per ball. Oil your hands as needed while rolling to prevent sticking.
  • To Deep-Fry the kofta (recommended method). Heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil or high-heat oil (I used sunflower oil) in a heavy-bottomed wok or pan over medium heat. To check if the oil is hot enough, add a tiny bit of the kofta dough to the oil. If the oil around the kofta immediately sizzles and it rises to the surface in a few seconds, it’s the right temperature. If you have a thermometer, wait until it reads 350°F/176°C.
  • Using a spider, slide in one kofta into the hot oil. Wait to see that the kofta holds together, and then gently slide the other kofta in, one by one. Do not overcrowd and fry them in several batches. Toss the kofta around occasionally to prevent them from sticking to one another, and until they are crisp and deeply golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined surface and continue frying the remaining kofta.
  • To bake the kofta. Preheat the oven to 425ºF/218ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Space out the rolled kofta so that there’s a bit of space between them. Lightly brush them with a neutral oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden and lightly browned on the tops and bottoms.
  • To serve the malai kofta: Heat the Gravy in its pan to warm up (if not already warm). Add the Kofta and spoon the Gravy over the Kofta. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with indian bread or white rice. Be sure to add only as many kofta to the gravy as you plan to eat, as leftover kofta will become soggy in the gravy. For leftovers, store the kofta and gravy separately.



* See notes above in the “Ingredient Rundown: Kofta” section on how to use extra-firm tofu. To make this recipe soy-free, see the “Tips for making this recipe” section.
** See notes above in the “Tips for making this recipe” section on Indian red chili powder substitutes.
*** I used about 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Keep in mind kosher salt is considerably less salty by volume than table or sea salt, so if you use the latter, use less.
**** The ground cashews helps the kofta stick together. If you don’t want to grind up cashews, you can use breadcrumbs instead, but it won’t be gluten-free.
***** Omit the green chilies for a mild version. If you like it very spicy, keep the seeds intact. You can use serrano peppers, which are spicier, or jalapeño peppers, which are milder.
Keyword curry, dumplings, gluten-free, Indian
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