Eastern food and Arabian Nights - Week 1 - Malai Kofta

I recently got back from a fabulous trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This was my first ever trip to the Middle East which may come as a bit of a surprise for someone who has visited over 50 countries, but until now the opportunity never presented itself. I was dazzled by these ancient and modern cities, where skyscrapers are abundant and each new gravity defying structure outdoes the last with titles such as World's tallest building, World's tallest hotel, World's tallest residential building and so on. These vibrant cities offer activities such as desert safaris with dune busting, camel riding, belly dancing shows, trips to 148th floor of the tallest building in the World - Burj Khalifa, being serenaded by the dancing fountains at the Dubai mall, water parks, animal parks, beaches, indoor ski slopes, souks, shopping malls and the list goes on and on. Coexisting with all this modernity and technological breakthrough are cities with a rich and ancient culture. I explored this amazing culture through food. In the next few weeks I will be sharing some of these wonderful recipes with you. Today I am sharing the recipe for Malai Kofta, an Indian dish. Indian food is widely popular in the UAE because of the large no of Indian immigrants living and working in the Emirates. Join me this spring for a culinary journey to the Middle East

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Total time: 65 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)

Kofta

2 carrots, washed, peeled and chopped

½ cauliflower, washed and cut into bit size florets

2 potatoes, washed, peeled, boiled and mashed

2 tablespoons cashew nut, 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 marsala

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

  1. 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

  2. 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

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

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

  5. 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

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

  7. 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)

  8. Add the garam marsala, coriander powder, cumin powder and nutmeg and fry for 2 minutes

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

  10. Remove from heat and allow to cool

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

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

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

  14. Remove from heat

Serving suggestions: Serve with naan bread, chapatis or paratha

Tips: 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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