Friday, December 4, 2009

Malai Kofta (and home made panir cheese)

Best Papadams, cute packets

Malai Kofta

Malai kofta is one of my all time favourite Indian dishes! It is a special, rich dish traditionally reserved for celebrations. The main ingredient in the kofta balls is a handmade panir cheese, mixed with cashew nuts, sultanas, coriander and chili, and I love to add a handful of toasted fennel seeds. These balls are then deep fried, drained and placed in a lightly spiced creamy tomato sauce. It is divine! Makes about 30 small kofta. It is perfect when accompanied by a cauliflower curry like a poriyal- with some yellow rice, a spinach raita and a truck load of papadams.
The Panir cheese is very easy and great fun to make, it can be used to make dips or simply slice, fry up and serve with some extra virgin olive oil or balsamic vinegar or you could make your own Palak Panir
This recipe comes c/o the inspirational Vegetarian Chef, Kurma Dasa.
You can find more of his amazing recipes here, and if you are feeling inspired why not do a cooking class in your home - details here.

Ingredients Kofta balls
curd cheese, panir, from 3-litres milk (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons sultanas
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 or 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
*I love to add a big handful of toasted fennel seeds!!
ghee or oil for deep-frying

Ingredients Malai sauce
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder
4 cups tomato puree
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup pouring cream
1 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves

To make the Kofta balls:
Place the curd cheese in a food processor and process until creamy smooth. Alternatively you can knead with your hands.

Add the sultanas, almonds, chilies, salt, pepper and fresh coriander and mix roughly.

Roll the cheese mixture into thirty 1.5cm smooth balls. Heat the ghee or oil in a wide pan over moderate heat, test temperature is hot enough to deep fry. Gently place in a quantity of cheese balls. Fry the balls gently until they turn a rich, dark brown. Lift them out and drain them. Repeat for all the kofta.

To make the Malai Sauce:

Place 1 tablespoon ghee in a wide mouthed saucepan and apply moderate heat. When the ghee is hot, add the ginger and stir for a few moments. Sprinkle in the yellow asafetida powder and stir momentarily.

Add the tomato puree, salt and sugar. Bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.Mix in the garam masala, stir in the cream, then gently add the kofta balls. Simmer the kofta gently in the sauce for 5 to 10 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle with the chopped, fresh coriander.

To make Home Made Panir Cheese

You need little by way of equipment to make curd cheese: a 2 – 6 litre pan, or larger (depending on the quantity of milk), a stirring paddle or wooden spoon, a colander, and some new cheesecloth. You will need the following ingredients for an easily manageable home batch of panir.

4 litres fresh milk
3-4 cups yogurt

Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pan that allows plenty of room for boiling. Set it over high heat and bring the milk to a full foaming boil, stirring often to prevent scorching and sticking. Reduce the heat to low, and, before the foam subsides and spoon in the yogurt.

Very gently and slowly move the spoon through the milk in one direction. After 10 or 15 seconds, remove the pan from the heat and continue to gently agitate the milk until large lumps of soft curd form. If the cheese has not formed after 1 minute, place the pan over the heat momentarily until the casein (milk protein) coagulates and leaves pale yellow-greenish whey. If necessary, add a little more acid agent.

As soon as the cheese has formed, remove the pan from the heat, cover it and set it aside for 10 minutes. If you want a very soft cheese, gently pour in 1 or 2 cups of hot water. When the cheese has settled under the surface of the whey, it is ready to drain.

Line a colander with 2 or 3 thicknesses of cheesecloth or some clean white cloth that has been dipped in water and wrung dry. Drape the corners and edges of the cloth over the sides of the colander.
Remove the large lumps of cheese with a slotted spoon and place them in a colander. Gently pour the smaller pieces and remaining whey into the colander. Gather up the corners of the cloth and twist it around. Hold the bag of cheese under a gentle stream of cold running water for 5 to 10 seconds. Gently twist the cloth to squeeze out the excess whey.

Place the bag of cheese under a weight until firm, I use my heavy mortar and Pestle. Unwrap the cheese and use as directed, or wrap in paper-towel-lined plastic wrap, zip-lock bags or plastic containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Thanks to Kurma for letting me share this recipe, if you give it a go, I would love to hear how it goes.

Chele xx


trixi said...

I love home made panir. Haven't made it for a while but think your recipe just made a little hungry for panir again!

Sabrina said...

Oooo-thanks for the recipe. I adore Indian food! I've made paneer, but never have tried my hand at kofta. Yummy!