Friday, November 16, 2007

November 11, 2007: Paneer koftas in creamy saffron gravy

Last month we made some tasty and virtuous baked spinach kofta balls for Vegetarian Awareness Month. As I browsed through the other entries on Coffee & Vanilla, I spied another more indulgent kofta recipe. These cheesy kofta looked much more like the ones I've grown to love from Indian restaurants everywhere and I was keen to give them a try.

The recipe takes quite some time to prepare, so it was the stuff of a lazy Saturday afternoon and evening. Although there's frying involved and a lot of time to be spent, I think these are fabulous. Unlike many of the vege patties and fritters I've tried making in the past, these really hold together. That's the magic of cornflour! I'll have to keep it in mind for future adventures in frying. The koftas are tender on the inside with a golden crust, and the mild sweet flavour of garam masala. The sauce is spicier and smells just like my favourite takeaway, although the taste is more complex.

Our efforts yielded enough to enjoy koftas with sauce and rice over a couple of meals, and even more koftas without sauce to put onto a sandwich with greens and tomato sauce. I was in sweet kofta country there for a good four days!

I'll rewrite Sia's recipe here because I made a few minor changes, but check out her post for some lovely photos of the process.

Paneer koftas in creamy saffron gravy
(from Monsoon Spice)

2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup green peas
1 small carrot, grated
5-6 green beans, finely chopped
2 cups paneer, grated
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
3-4 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons cashews, roughly chopped
salt to taste
lots of vege oil for shallow frying
fresh coriander leaves to garnish

Boil, peel and mash the potatoes; steam the peas, carrot and beans for just a few minutes, until tender. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, steamed vegetables and paneer. Add the spices, cornflour and cashews, then salt to taste. Take large tablespoons of the mixture and roll them into balls.

This is a good time to prepare the sauce. Then while it's simmering, get back into frying these koftas...

In a frypan, pour the oil to about 1/2 cm deep and bring to medium heat. Space out some koftas in the frypan and fry until golden brown, turning a few times to cook evenly. Transfer to a paper towel and repeat with the remaining koftas.

When it's time to serve up, plonk the koftas into the gravy and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

12 cashews
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
a pinch of cinnamon
1 x 400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons milk
a generous pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green cardamom pods
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1/4 cup cream
salt to taste

In a food processor or spice grinder, whizz together the cashews and spices from garam masala through to cinnamon. Stir them through the canned tomatoes.

Gently warm the milk. Crush the saffron and add it to the milk to infuse.

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the cumin seeds through to the bay leaf. Saute until fragrant. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and continue cooking until the onion browns. Pour in the tomatoes and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the saffron milk and the cream, and cook over low heat for 10-15 more minutes. Season to taste and serve with the koftas.


  1. OMG, that looks so delicious, I am definitely making that!

  2. I've been meaning to cook this dish for almost a year!! It is so delicious but the time consuming part just keeps putting me off. A Christmas special maybe...

  3. Good luck, Jackie! I hope you agree that the effort is well worth it in the end.

    Mallika, I'm looking forward to seeing your version when you eventually give it a shot.

  4. cindy,
    i am glad u enjoyed these koftas. although little time consuming the end result always makes me forget abt the work went through:)
    thank u for letting me know:)

  5. Welcome, Sia! Glad you stopped by to see my imitation.