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Malai kofta, aromatic rice, puris and cucumber raita

Try this authentic Indian vegetarian meal of paneer cheese koftas served with a rich gravy, flatbreads, rice and raita.

Ingredients

For the group A spice powder
For the group B spice powder
For the kofta
For the gravy
For the saffron rice
For the puris
  • 75g/3oz wholemeal bread flour

  • 75g/3oz strong white bread flour

  • plain flour, for dusting

  • oil, for deep-frying and greasing

For the cucumber raita
To serve
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced

  • pinch each of group A and B spice powders

  • chopped fresh coriander leaves

Preparation method

  1. For the group A spice powder, dry-fry the spices together in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Tip into a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

  2. For the group B spice powder, dry-fry the spices together in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Tip into a spice grinder and grind to a powder.

  3. For the kofta, grind the almonds, cashew nuts and raisins in a food processor until fine. Set aside.

  4. In a bowl, mix together the paneer, mashed potato, green chilli, coriander, cumin, chilli powder, and a pinch of salt. Take spoonfuls of the mixture and shape into ping-pong-sized balls. Use your thumb to make a depression in the centre of each ball and fill it with some of the almond, cashew and raisin mixture. Mould the mixture around the filling to encase it.

  5. Roll each kofta in cornflour to coat, shaking off any excess, then set aside. Half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with the oil and heat until a cube of bread dropped in it sizzles and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended). Fry the kofta, in batches if necessary (to avoid overcrowding the pan), for 4-5 minutes, turning two or three times during cooking, or until cooked through and golden-brown and crisp. Remove the kofta from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm.

  6. For the gravy, heat half of the oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, ginger paste, garlic paste and a pinch of salt together for five minutes until golden-brown. Stir in the tomatoes, group B spice powder, chilli powder and a cup or two of water and stir well. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the mixture has reduced to a rich sauce, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Use a stick blender to blend the gravy to a smooth sauce.

  7. In a separate pan, heat the remaining oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the ground cumin and turmeric and fry for a few seconds, then pour in a cup of water and bring to boil. Pour in the cream and return the mixture to the boil, then stir in the ground cashews. Pour the tomato gravy mixture into the cream mixture and stir to combine. Keep warm.

  8. For the saffron rice, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onions until golden-brown, then remove them from the pan and set aside for the garnish. Heat one tablespoon of the ghee in a separate pan and fry the cashew nuts until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside for the garnish.

  9. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the group A spice powder and turmeric together for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and fry for a further minute. Add the saffron and the milk, then pour in enough hot water to cover the rice by about 2cm/1in. Add salt, to taste. Stir well then transfer the mixture to a microwave-proof dish. Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes. (Alternatively simmer the rice gently on the hob for ten minutes, or until tender.)

  10. Gently stir the remaining ghee into the cooked rice, then cover and cook for a further four minutes. When ready to serve, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the fried onions and cashew nuts.

  11. For the puris, mix the wholemeal flour and bread flour together in a bowl then add enough cold water to bring the mixture together as a stiff dough. Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead thoroughly for a few minutes.

  12. Lightly oil the palms of your hands and continue kneading the dough for another minute. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and set aside to rest for a few minutes.

  13. Dust the work surface with more plain flour and break off small pieces of the dough, rolling each into large, thin rounds.

  14. Half-fill a deep, heavy-based pan with oil and heat until a cube of bread dropped in it sizzles and turns golden-brown in 30 seconds (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended). Fry the puris, one-at-a-time, for 1-2 minutes, or until puffed up and golden-brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm and repeat the process with the remaining dough.

  15. For the raita, season the yoghurt with salt and stir in the cucumber. Transfer to a serving bowl and, just before serving, garnish with the cumin, red chilli powder and chopped coriander.

  16. To serve, put the koftas into a large serving bowl, pour over the hot gravy, season with the spice powders and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with all the other dishes on the side.

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