If you know Indian food then you know what Naan is. So I don’t need to tell you how incredibly delicious, light and easy it is to make this Indian bread! If you are not familiar with Malai Kofta, you can just call it an Indian vegetarian form of meatballs where potato dumplings (kofta) are fried and then cooked with a rich and creamy tomato sauce. You can definitely make it low fat without compromising on taste and that’s what I have tried to do with this recipe.
Let’s begin with making fresh restaurant-style Naan bread (without yeast) at home and then get to the recipe for Malai Kofta.
How to make Naan bread at home:
2 cups all purpose flour or wheat flour
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oil
(These are the ingredients for the basic dough. You can also flavor your naan with herbs. I have made cumin naan, garlic naan, butter naan and some topped with cilantro greens.)
- Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour.
- Mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine.
- (This part isn’t an exact science.) Slowly add liquid and mix until you have a soft dough. It should be soft enough to make an impression with your finger without applying pressure. If the dough sticks to your hand too much, use a little oil.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
- After a few hours, dust your working board with flour, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (about 8 balls for this recipe). Dust the board again and flatten the balls, making them thick and elongated.
- If you are using any additional spices, sprinkle one side with the spice. (I’ve made cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and some simple butter naans.) Brush the other side with water.
- Heat a thick-bottomed skillet, wok, or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once it’s hot, place the naan wet-side-down (it will stick) and cover it with a lid.
- Let it cook until you see bubbles (about 30 seconds.) Now cook the other side of the naan over direct flame of the burner using tongs. The naan is done when you see charred brown spots.
Recipe for Malai Kofta:
The traditional Malai Kofta is rich, creamy and nicely loaded with fat. But I tried to make a lower-fat version. I used grated squash dumplings instead of potato dumplings but you can use all kind of vegetables. Be warned, the ingredients listed may scare you, but trust me – this dish is very easy. If you have to add some new spices to your cabinet, it’s worth the effort!
1 medium size bottle gourd or squash (grated and water drained)
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Corn flour to bind everything together to be turned into smaller balls later
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
1 big bay leaf
2 black cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3-4 count peppercorn
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
(Or instead of the 6 ingredients above, you can use a tablespoon of garam masala)
1 cup onion paste
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 green chili
1 cup tomato puree
2 1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
3 tbsp milk
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Method: For Kofta (vegetable dumplings)
- These two ingredients (left) are the hidden jewels of your dumplings! Coarsely crush fennel seeds and coriander seeds and mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Add corn flour enough for everything to bind together well.
- Make lime sized balls and deep fry them in oil at a temperature of somewhere around 350 F. Fry them until the dumplings turn nice and brown. Pull them out and drain all the extra oil on a paper towel.
- These vegetable dumplings are a great way to give your little ones some vegetables. Works like a charm for me every time!
For the gravy:
- Grind the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, cumin and cinnamon in a coffee grinder to make a powder.
- Soak cashews in milk for about an hour and 45 minutes and then make a paste out of them.
- Heat oil in a pan and throw in the onion, ginger and garlic paste.
- Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the paste turns brown.
- Add salt and turmeric. As soon as you add salt, the oil should start to separate.
- Add coriander powder and tomato puree. Cook it for another 10 minutes or until all the water from the tomato is gone.
- Now you can add your cottage cheese. Use the boxed low fat cottage cheese which has a little liquid with cheese crumbles.
- Keep stirring until all the crumbles of cheese dissolve and then add cashew paste.
- Mix well and add your spices (or garam masala). Mix again.
- Add about 2 1/2 cups of water and let it simmer for a few minutes. I like my gravy a little thick, add more water to thin.
- Throw in the kofta balls and give it a quick boil. (If you’re making potato koftas, cook the gravy separately and then pour it over the koftas before serving, otherwise they tend to get soggy.)
Enjoy your koftas with homemade naans or rice!