Vegetable Koftas

This dish in my opinion is an indianised version of a manchurian with lots of flavour. I wanted to make something similar to a Malai Kofta but not quite as heavy with the Paneer and Potatoes in a creamy sauce. The gravy is the same as used in our Paneer Makhani. I used an Paniyaram/appam pan to fry the koftas just as I did for the Manchurian. However, I timed it well to make the koftas perfectly so they are well cooked on the inside. These Kofta balls even taste great on its own. I ended up eating a few as my pre-dinner snack.

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Total cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 2


For Makhani Gravy:

  • 2 large tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • ½ onion (roughly chopped)
  • 2 tsp ghee (or oil)
  • 4-5 tbsp double cream
  • 1 star anise
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 5-6 cardamom pods
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8-9 cashew nuts
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 inch ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri chilli for a strong, red colour)
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp water or as required
  • 4-5 saffron strands (optional but strongly recommended for that added oomph!)

For Vegetable Koftas:

  • ⅓ grated cabbage (I blended it dry in a blender or you can grate it using a grater)
  • ½ grated carrot (blended it dry in a blender)
  • ⅓ grated cauliflower (blended it dry in a blender)
  • 100 gms gram flour (besan)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (adjust as per spice tolerance)
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt to taste + sprinkle on vegetables
  • ¾ tsp oil to cook each koftas


For Makhani Gravy

  1. In a pan, heat 2 tsp oil/ghee.
  2. Once hot, add the star anise, cloves, bayleaves, cinnamon sticks, garlic and cardamom pods.
  3. Next, add the roughly chopped onions, cashews and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions become golden brown.
  4. Add the roughly chopped tomatoes, salt, red chilli powder, sugar along with 50 ml of water and cover it with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the gravy thickens on medium heat .

5. The tomatoes should be cooked after the simmer and form a gravy (see below).

6. Remove the whole spices (cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, bay leaves and cardamom pods) as these can discolour the gravy.

7. Transfer the gravy mixture to a blender. Ensure you blend in 3-4 short bursts to avoid pressure building inside due to the steam from the gravy.

8. Blend until a thick and smooth gravy is formed.

9. Transfer the gravy back to the pan.

10. Add the double cream along with the saffron (optional) and mix. The consistency should be as below. You can add 3-4 tbsp of water to adjust the consistency of the gravy.

11. Add the cooled down koftas (recipe below) to the gravy and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes and enjoy!

For Vegetable Kofta

  1. In a bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, cauliflower and salt and mix.
  2. Leave aside for 10 minutes as the vegetables begin to release water.
  3. Transfer the mixture on a muslin cloth. If you do not have a muslin cloth, you can squeeze it in a strainer.

4. Squeeze as much of the water you can. It is important to squeeze out water as the vegetables will continue to release water as they are kept longer whilst koftas cook and you do not want to end up with a mush for the later batches.

5. Transfer the mixture back to the bowl.

6. Add the gram flour (besan), garam masala, chilli powder, cumin powder, asafoetida, salt and mix.

7. Combine well to form a soft dough. The dough will be slightly sticky but that is fine as long as it is good to form balls.

8. Shape the mixture into about ¾ to 1-inch balls. You should be able to make about 21 in total. I weigh out the dough and divide my balls by weight to ensure they are even but you can do it by eye as well!

9. Heat the Paniyaram pan with ¾ tsp oil in each hole. 

10. Once hot, cook the Koftas on medium-high heat in each hole turning them around until they are evenly brown and crispy. This should take about 15-18 minutes for each batch.

11. Ensure the sides are cooked evenly as well. I cooked them for about 4 mins each side and then along the sides.
Note: If you are deep frying, fry them in batches until they turn golden and crispy a.

12. Repeat until all the balls are cooked and keep aside to cool. Note: It is important that they are completely cool before adding to the sauce.

13. Add the cooled down Koftas to the gravy and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes and enjoy!

Hope you enjoy this!

Payal & Kaustubh

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