Oct 17, 2010

malai kofta

Indian Night

An awesome Indian dish is Malai Kofta. Kofta means "balls" (as in meatballs) and Malai means "cream." Neither of these would lend themselves to veganism and I haven't found a vegan version anywhere.

The kofta can be made with meat or vegetables or beans or cheese. The kofta in Malai Kofta uses paneer, a homemade cheese.

So, let's veganize it!

The sauce is a tomato based gravy with a little cream and some spices, but nothing all that complicated.  In  order to achieve the creaminess that cream brings to the Malai party, I used cashew cream and cashew butter and a few Tablespoons of Earth Balance to up the richness of the sauce.

I made the koftas using chickpeas and fresh herbs. I pan fried them a little and then finished them in the oven.

Although this meal was very successful in terms of flavor, it does not have quite the flavor that cream lends to the original. While there are some dishes that I truly try to achieve authenticity with, this particular one tasted so good that I am not bummed by not hitting the target exactly. It most certainly resembles Malai Kofta, but since I am not using dairy cream, the taste is slightly different. So, if you are not expecting exact replication, this is a total knockout.

For the greens I made the Spinach and Kale Bhaji out of Flavors of India.

Cost Breakdown
cashew: $2
tomato: $3
spices: $1
chickpeas: $2 
herbs: $2
kale, spinach: $4
garlic, onion: $1
Total to feed a family of 6:


  1. I like the cost breakdown on your site. It's very interesting to see this recipe "veganized" Thanks for sharing.

  2. looks delicious. great work to have cashews in Kofta.

  3. It is interesting that you hadn't found a vegan recipe for them. The local Indian restaurants serve them exclusively vegetarian style (probably not a stretch to make them vegan) and I never knew other places might prepare them with meat!


  4. Thanks, all!

    Jason, the issue is not that they can't be found vegetarian, it is that they are not vegan.

    The dairy cream has a vastly different flavor profile in this dish than the cashew cream that typically comes off without a hitch. I am also sure that the ghee that is used is an additional flavor depth that I was not counting on when I began making the dish.

    The end result was not an exact replica of the malai (cream) gravy, but it was just as rich and delicious.

    Thanks for visiting!


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