Recipe

Malai kofta

by Rachel Kelly

Indian-style potato croquettes with a creamy curry sauce

These potato kofta are essentially fried potato croquettes stuffed with a lovely, celebratory mixture of cheese, nuts and dried fruit served with a creamy curry sauce. This is one of my favourite recipes as it is quite simple to make but is utterly moreish. Make smaller kofta and you have the perfect party nibble to serve with dips such as tangy tamarind and date chutney or a fragrant coriander chutney.

Ingredients

About 500g of seasoned mashed potato (use floury spuds such as king edwards, but do not add any butter or milk to the mash, just seasoning)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Corn flour or gram (chickpea) flour

For the stuffing:
600g paneer (or feta or mozzarella), finely chopped or grated
1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp dried fruit, chopped (apricots, sultanas or barberries)
3 tbsp mixed nuts, chopped (I use a mixture of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts or pistachios

For the sauce:
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 pinch of ground turmeric
½ tsp ground chilli powder (or more to taste)
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, very finely chopped
400ml single cream—you could replace some of the cream with coconut milk
Fresh coriander to serve

Method

Peel the potatoes and cut into even-sized chunks. Boil in lightly salted water for 20 mins until they are tender but not falling apart.

Drain the potatoes well—I rest the potatoes in a colander over the saucepan on a low heat for a few minutes, shaking occasionally, which helps to evaporate any residual water.

Tip the potatoes into a large bowl and mash until smooth. Don’t be tempted to mash the potatoes in a food processor—as a result of the starch in potatoes, blending them just means they’ll end up gluey, which isn’t very nice.

Season to taste, but do not add milk, cream or butter, as you might with a traditional British mash.

Make the stuffing by finely chopping the cheese and then combining with the rest of the stuffing ingredients.

Now for the fun part. Start to make the potato balls by shaping the mash into the size of a walnut. Stuff with about 2 tsp of filling—I find this easiest if I make a ball of potato and then make a hole in the ball with my forefinger. I push the stuffing into this indentation and pull the mash up around the filling before smoothing the hole closed.

Roll the stuffed potato balls in corn flour or gram flour, then set aside in a cool place while you make the sauce. I wouldn’t chill the balls in the fridge, as I find that this can make them a bit sticky which means they’ll flatten during cooking.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onions until softened but not brown (about 10 to 15 mins).

While the onions are cooking, heat the oil for frying the kofta in a deep-sided saucepan. When it is hot, deep or semi-fry the potato kofta until golden brown—about 2 to 3 mins. Drain well on kitchen paper and set aside.

Add the ground spices to the softened onion, stir well to combine and gently cook for 1 to 2 mins. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stir well and cook for a further 1 to 2 mins. When reheating, I sometimes add a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes to the sauce and blend for a smoother texture.

Add the cream and gently heat through. Check the seasoning. Add the fried potato kofta and heat until the kofta are warmed through.

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander, or place in a large serving dish and either pour the onion sauce over them or serve the sauce on the side. However, don’t leave the cooked kofta in the sauce for any length of time as this will make them soggy.

ALTERNATIVE: Possibly the only way to improve on this is to include mashed peas in the potato mixture, then you end up with the same combination as the student curry favourite, mattar paneer (or cheesy peas!)

I have also made these potato kofta-croquettes with a stuffing made up of leftover hazelnut pesto with added nuts and spices. Pretty good, if I say so myself!

Recipe: Rachel Kelly