Incredible India - Malai Kofta - India

We have come to the end of my Nigerian Nights series which turned out to be a memorable and nostalgic journey for me to my homeland. This week, my culinary journey takes me to Incredible India with its bustling streets, vibrant and spicy food, rich culture and colorful clothing to mention a few. On October 23rd Indians celebrated Diwali or 'the festival of lights' an ancient Hindu festival celebrated every year. The festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. This is one of India's most important festivals, equivalent to Christmas in many countries. In honor of Diwali, I am sharing one of my favorite Indian dishes today - Saag Paneer. I fell for this delightful dish at my favorite Indian Restaurant in Houston, Texas - Kirans. It took countless trials to perfect my recipe and make it close to the wonderful Malai Kofta prepared at this restaurant. Jens and I have had innumerable delicious dinners there and we are never disappointed. I have modified the traditional recipe to make it healthier while trying to preserve the rich and creamy flavor of this wonderful dish. Happy Diwali!

Malai Kofta

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Kofta

2 carrots, washed, peeled and chopped

½ cauliflower, washed and cut into bite-sized florets

2 potatoes, washed, peeled, boiled and mashed

2 tablespoons cashews, crushed

½ tablespoon cumin powder

½ tablespoon coriander powder

½ tablespoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon chilies, minced

4 tablespoons whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon corn starch

4 cups vegetable or canola oil for frying

Sauce

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ onion (½ cup), diced

½ tablespoon garam masala

½ tablespoon cumin powder

½ tablespoon coriander powder

½ tablespoon nutmeg

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 table spoon ginger, crushed

1 tomato, chopped

4 tablespoons cashew nut, crushed

½ cup milk or ¼ cup cream

1 cup vegetable stock/broth

Method

  • Bring 2 inches of salted water to boil and then add the carrots and cauliflower. Steam for about 10 minutes or until tender, then drain the water (do not throw away the vegetable stock, will be used later) and set aside the carrot and cauliflower.

  • Place the carrot and cauliflower in a blender or food processor and blend to a puree (you may need to add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable stock for easier blending).

  • In a large bowl, combine the carrot and cauliflower puree, mashed potatoes, cashews, cumin powder, coriander powder, nutmeg, chilies and whole wheat flour, then stir well.

  • Roll into balls about half the size of a clenched fist, then roll in the corn starch to coat each ball.

  • Heat 4 cups of vegetable or canola in a deep frying pan over high heat; when oil is very hot, add the kofta and fry until brown on the outside (about 6–8 minutes). You may need to fry the kofta in more than 1 batch.

  • Remove the kofta from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

  • For the sauce, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over low heat, then add the onion and cook until translucent (about 6–8 minutes)

  • Add the garam masala, coriander powder, cumin powder and nutmeg and fry for 2 minutes.

  • Increase the heat to medium, then add the garlic, ginger and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Place in a blender or food processor and blend to a puree.

  • Place a large sauce pan over medium heat and add the puree, cashew powder, milk or cream and vegetable stock/broth.

  • Cook for 5 minutes, then add the kofta carefully so as not to break them.

  • Remove from heat.

Serving suggestions: Serve with chapatis, paratha or naan

Tip: To get a creamy sauce without the calories, use almond milk, it is an excellent substitute for cream, giving a nice creamy texture and taste sans the calories.

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