Another year is gone and we are all set with a new beginning, new dreams and new resolutions! The last few days of every year are a little bittersweet for me. The days are full of celebrations and color and smiles but in the back of your mind you always think that this is going to end very soon and life will be again back to the grind. This time was no different! All the celebrations are over, we are all back to business although still a little hung over!
But for us, although the party is over, it is not at all boring around here! A lot is going on, a lot of plans in the making and a lot of changes waiting to happen of which I’ll tell you soon. But there’s one thing that never changes here whatever be the situation and that is cooking and eating a lot of yummy food! I realized that it has been a while since I posted some good traditional Indian food here so I thought of starting the year’s first recipe with it!Asked A what he would like to eat if I plan on making something nice and Indian and without wasting a second his answer was Naan and Malai Kofta. So Naan and Malai Kofta it is!
If you know Indian food then you know what Naan is. So I don’t even want to try and tell you how incredibly delicious, light and easy to make this Indian bread is! I’ll go there though but first let me quickly tell you what Malai Kofta is, if you are already not familiar with the dish. You can just call Malai Kofta an Indian vegetarian form of meatballs where potato dumplings (kofta) are fried and later 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 here with this recipe. So let’s begin with how to make 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 of warm milk
1/2 cup of 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 dough and then you can flavor your naan with all kinds of herbs. I made cumin naan, garlic naan, butter naan and some topped with cilantro greens. So this is up to you.
Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour.
Now mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.
I don’t think there’s an exact amount of liquid that should be added to the exact amount of flour to make a perfect dough. So what I do is add liquid slowly and combine it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to hand too much then use little bit of oil on hand and then punch into the dough.
Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (in this case you should get about 8 balls to make naans).
Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread which is a little thick and elongated.
Now sprinkle one side of the bread with whichever flavor you want. I made cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and some simple butter naans.
Brush the other side with water.
Heat a thick bottom skillet or a wok or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once its nicely hot place the naan wet side down which would stick and cover it with a lid.
Let it cook for about 30 secs or until you see bubbles on it.Now cook the other side of the naan over direct flame of the burner with the help of tongs. When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done.
Smother some good amount of butter on your naans and when you taste them you’ll know what a peaceful life means!
Recipe for Malai Kofta:
As I said before, the traditional Malai Kofta is rich, creamy and nicely loaded with fat. But I tried to make a “not so fatty” version of it. I used grated squash dumplings instead of potato dumplings but you can use all kind of vegetables. By the way, the ingredients I’m going to be listing below might scare you but trust me – this dish is NOT complicated or difficult at all. And if you have to drive the car to go out and buy some ingredients, do it! Its so 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)
The two ingredients that you see above 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 deg. 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 thrown in the onion, ginger and garlic paste.
Cook it well on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the paste turns brown in color.
Now add salt and turmeric. The sign that your onion is well is that as soon as you add salt, oil will start separating.
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. This step might seem a little unusual to those who are used to adding heavy cream to their malai kofta or mughlai gravy but trust me on this one! And I’m talking about the boxed low fat cottage cheese which has a little liquid in it with cheese crumbles and not the paneer you get in Indian stores.
Keep stirring until all the crumbles of cheese dissolve and then add cashew paste.
Mix well and at last you have to add your spices (garam masala) powder. 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, if you want it thinner add more water.
Throw in the kofta balls and give it a quick boil. (In case of potato koftas I cook the gravy seperately and then pour it over the koftas before serving or else they tend to get soggy if left in gravy for a while.)
Enjoy your koftas with homemade naans or rice!