India In My Kitchen / India En Mi Cocina

Charcoal painting by Monica

To continue with my adventure with Indian food, I’m now sharing the recipe for Malai Kofta. Like I mentioned in my previous post, this dish is a delicious vegetarian meal but, according to my friend Monica, this dish is not to be eaten every day. I agree with her because the dish, although delicious, is heavy and has all those calories that are not very figure friendly. However, once in a while it’s okay to treat yourself to a wonderful, rich and flavorful dish of Indian food. 

Beside the flavors, another pleasure that comes with Indian food is the aromas. When cooking dishes from the subcontinent, the fragrance of all the spices and herbs fill the kitchen and, suddenly, the atmosphere becomes warm and cozy. I just love it! 

Now, put some music on and get ready to experience India in your kitchen! 

Garam Masala: black pepper, clove, cumin, black cardamon, green cardamon, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaf 

For the Koftas:
2 medium potatoes, cooked and grated
4-5 oz paneer (homemade or store bought), grated
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon corn starch or all purpose flour*
¼ teaspoon garam masala
½ tablespoon powder milk*
1 table spoon chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

*1 ½ tablespoons of gram flour can substitute the corn starch and powder milk.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, form into balls, roll in corn starch or all purpose flour (optional) and let sit in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes (this will firm the balls and harden the surface a little, making them easy to handle) In a shallow pan, heat enough oil to fry the koftas.  Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels and set aside.

For the sauce:
1 bay leaf
½ inch cinnamon stick
2-3 green cardamom pods
½ cup onion paste
½ inch fresh ginger plus 2 garlic cloves, passed through a garlic press
¼ cup cashew paste
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
2 cups water
2 tablespoons golden raisins
Salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons cream (optional)

For garnish:
Slivered almonds and chopped cilantro leaves

Remove some of the oil from the pan were you fried the koftas, leaving about 2 tablespoons. Fry the whole spices; bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom, until they release their aroma. Add the onion paste and fry until it browns. Add ginger and garlic, fry for about a minute and then add the tomato puree and saute for about 3 minutes. Next add the cashew paste and spice powders, stir in the raisins and saute for about 10 minutes.  Add water and continue stirring until sauce thickens and it feels creamy. At this point, if using, you can add cream. Add salt to taste. Let simmer for a few more minutes. Add fried koftas and simmer for a couple more minutes. Serve hot and garnish with slivered almonds and chopped cilantro leaves.

Malai Kofta
Coming soon - Methi Rice


Exploring Dishes From The Subcontinent / Explorando Platos Del Subcontinente

Photo from Knowledge

It all started with a post I read in Saborearte Entusiasma, Carmen’s blog. She awakened my cravings for Indian food. After reading her post I went out for dinner with my husband to Bombay, a local Indian restaurant. We had the most delicious dish that made me want to come home and duplicate the recipe.

The dish was Malai Kofta. The waiter described it as vegetarian meatballs but I would say they were potato dumplings. They were soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. They were covered with a creamy sauce that was sweet and nutty with a little bit of heat. Umm, so good! I promptly wrote the name and the ingredients for the sauce that were listed on the menu; cinnamon, nutmeg, mild spices and malai or cream. Although I had no idea how I was going to do it, I, for sure, was going to try to duplicate this at home!

Remember my office? Yes, my office, the one with employees from all over the world? We have a girl from India who I knew was going to help me with this recipe. Yes, I know, I can get help from the internet… I'd rather ask my friend at work. I like going to the internet for many things, including recipes. But whenever possible and as my first choice, I like asking people for recipes. When I talk to people I learn much more than just the recipe. I learn about the person, their family, their country and how a certain recipe relates to whomever is sharing it with me. I find this fascinating!

Garam Masala Whole

I asked Monica, my friend at work, about the mild spices and I told her the dish tasted like it had some nuts but the menu didn’t mention it. Yes, she told me, the sauce is made with tomatoes, onion and it has ground cashew which is what thickens the sauce. Besides the cinnamon and nutmeg, people use chili powder and other spices but she told me to use garam masala. Monica didn’t have a recipe because, as in many cultures, family recipes are not written, they are passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. She was able to remember how Malai Kofta was made in her home back in India and she shared that with me, which made me very happy!

With Monica’s help and some research I did on the internet, I came up with a recipe for Malai Kofta which was very close to the one we had at the restaurant. I will be giving you the recipe but this is a very long process and it takes several steps, it took me all day! But I’m going to share it in several posts. Today I’m starting with recipes for three pastes; onion paste, tomato puree and cashew paste. I also have a recipe for paneer, an Indian cheese that is used in the making of koftas.

Onion Paste
1 cup chopped onion
1 bay leaf
2-3 cardamom pods
¾ cup water

In a shallow pan cook all the ingredients until the onion becomes translucent and the water evaporates. Let it cool and grind to a paste. Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tomato Puree
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and cut in half
1 garlic clove
Water as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

In a shallow pan, place the tomatoes and garlic and cover with water. Cook until soft. Transfer only the tomatoes to a blender with salt and pepper to taste. Blend to a smooth puree. Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Cashew Paste
20 whole raw cashews
5 whole raw almonds
Milk as needed

Soak the nuts in hot water for several hours until they become soft and plump. I didn’t want to wait so I cooked them and let them boil for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and grind to a paste. Add milk as needed to help the blender. The result should be a thick paste. Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

1 quart whole milk
3-4 tablespoon lemon juice

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the milk over medium heat. When the milk starts boiling, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Keep stirring until the solid curds separate from the watery whey. Allow the mixture to cool down for a few minutes and then strain through a kitchen towel draped over a bowl. Wrap the towel around itself in order to squeeze out liquid from the curds. Shape the paneer into a round and wrap tightly. You can shape your paneer into a rectangular block making it suitable for slicing and frying. My recipe does not require any specific shape so I just did a flat round. Place a heavy weight on top of the paneer to force out more moisture.  I let my paneer sit under the weight for 15 minutes, after that, it was ready to use in my recipe - for more firm paneer, let it sit longer time.  Remove from the towel and use in your favorite Indian recipe.

The three pastes can be used to season any dish and the paneer can be eaten as is or can be added to many recipes. In my next post I will show you how I used these.


What I Found At The Market / Lo Que Encontre En El Mercado

Wild Strawberries/ Fresas Salvajes

Strawberries / Fresas
Sunflowers / Girasoles
Blood Orange / Naranja Sangrita
Figs / Higos

Rosemary / Romero

Basil / Albahaca

Carrots and Squash / Zanahorias y Calabazas

Carroats / Zanahorias

Sea Urchins / Erizos

Crabs / Cangrejo
Cherries / Cerezas
Yellow Plums / Ciruela Amarilla

Nectarines / Nectarinas

Grapes / Uvas