Vegan Malai Kofta

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This is the best malai kofta recipe. That’s not just because it’s by me. It’s actually the best malai kofta recipe because it satisfies the craving and it’s cruelty-free.

The kofta balls (kofte) are made by using equal part tofu and mashed potatoes. Rolling the kofte in cornflour before deep frying makes them nice and crispy on the outside. This will also make sure they are light in colour in contrast with the dark sauce. If you would like darker kofte then simply skip this step and fry the kofte directly for a little longer. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can’t stop you.

You can replace the cashews with sunflower seeds or some soy or oat based cream to make this nut-free. ‘Malai’ means cream, so if you are not going to add nuts you should try to make up for the cream and fat content by using these substitutes. Put chopped green chillies in with the onions if you want it spicier.

A few years before I went vegan I had the most amazing malai kofta of my life. Since then I have been to many restaurants in many countries to try their take on this classic dish. I never found anything that hit the spot. After going vegan I had lost all hope of finding a vegan version at a restaurant, so I felt like I had to come up with something myself. After many failed attempts and drawing inspiration from many sources, the final recipe is ready. This restaurant-style Indian meal is the star of the show. It is perfect for when you’re feeling fancy but don’t want to spend too much on food, or when you’re cooking to impress. I really love this recipe, and I hope so do you.

Vegan Malai Kofta

Recipe by EshCourse: DinnerCuisine: IndianDifficulty: 6


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Cooking time


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  • For the sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil / Vegan butter

  • 1 medium onion

  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)

  • 10 pieces of cashew nuts

  • ¼ cup non-dairy cream

  • A generous pinch of sugar

  • Whole spices
  • 1 Bay leaf

  • 5 *Cloves

  • 1 tsp *Cumin seeds

  • *Small stick of cinnamon

  • 3 *Green cardamom pods

  • Powdered Spices
  • 1 tsp Turmeric

  • 1 tsp Chilli powder

  • ½ tsp *Cumin powder

  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder

  • A pinch of salt and pepper

  • For the kofte
  • 1 cup Paneer-style tofu (texture should be slightly softer than medium-firm, but it will also do)

  • 1 cup Potatoes, boiled and peeled

  • A big thumb-sized piece of ginger

  • [Optional] 1 or 2 Green chillies

  • 1 tsp Onion powder

  • 1 tsp Garlic powder

  • 1 tsp Coriander powder

  • 1 tbsp Cornflour

  • A pinch of salt and pepper

  • [Optional] A handful of chopped cashew nuts

  • [Optional] A handful of chopped fresh coriander


  • For the sauce
  • Add the vegan butter or coconut oil to a saucepan along with the whole spices and let them cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the powdered spices in, cook for three to five minutes longer, and add a tin of chopped tomatoes along with the cashew nuts.
  • Cook for five more minutes before adding 2 cups of water. Put the lid on and let it simmer until the tomatoes are mushy and cashews are softened.
  • Cool a little bit, remove the bay leaf, and blend it all up into a smooth sauce in your blender or food processor.
  • Heat it up again and add a pinch of sugar and the non-dairy cream.
  • Taste and check for seasoning – add another pinch of salt if needed.
  • For the kofte
  • In a mixing bowl add and mix the ingredients into a dough-like texture.
  • Once the mixture is ready, divide it into equal sized balls. Roll the balls in cornflour and deep fry in oil until crispy.
  • To serve, just put your kofte in a bowl or on a plate and pour the sauce on top of them.
  • Don’t put the kofte in the sauce, unless they are to be eaten immediately. Store the kofte and the sauce separately.


  • *The whole spices are necessary for developing the right flavours we are looking for. It’s not a problem if you can’t buy the spices whole, you could replace them with their powdered versions but add them in later with the rest of the powdered spices. The clove and the cardamom are the most important flavours in the sauce, and the ginger and garlic are the most important flavours in the kofte. If you must skip ingredients, make sure you don’t skip these.
  • If you want your sauce silky smooth like in the restaurants, then feel free to strain it after blending – I like mine better without straining.
  • Do make sure when you’re deep frying the kofte to not fry them until they are too dark in colour. We want some nice light coloured kofte in contrast with the dark sauce. This is why we rolled the kofte in cornflour. If you would like your kofte to be darker in colour then simply skip this step and fry the kofte directly for a little longer.
  • You could either buy the paneer-style tofu or make it yourself at home by heating up 1L of unsweetened soy milk and adding 2 Tbsp of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) before turning the heat off and let the milk sit for a while. Once the milk solids separate and only a clear-ish liquid remains, strain the liquid off using a cheese cloth and use a tofu-making press or a rectangular mould with a lot of weights to end up with a tofu block.

Header photo by Ratul Ghosh on Unsplash


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