Malai Kofta vs Paneer Masala: Everything You Need To Know

Malai Kofta vs Paneer Masala: Everything You Need To Know

If you are interested in getting to know more about authentic Indian food, then you have landed on the right page!

In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between these hugely popular dishes. Malai kofta vs paneer masala – let the battle commence! 

Malai Kofta vs Paneer Masala: Everything You Need To Know

What Are The Similarities Between Malai Kofta vs Paneer Masala?

There aren’t too many similarities when it comes to these. Both curries use a variety of different ingredients, and the cooking method is also not the same.


Each dish takes on a red or orange color. This is due to the use of tomatoes and vibrant spices.

Gravy Base 

This is where the most notable similarity lies. Each curry is made with a thick, creamy gravy which is the key component! If you want to have a dabble at cooking either dish, getting the gravy right is essential.

Spices Used 

As we can see by looking at the table below, each curry contains the same selection of spices. So how do they taste so different? 

Keep reading to find out! 

Paneer Masala Malai Kofta
Coriander powderCoriander powder 
Garam masala Garam masala 
Chili powderKashmiri red chili powder 
Turmeric powder Turmeric powder
Cumin powder Cumin powder 
Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) Kasuri methi 

 What Are The Differences Between Malai Kofta vs Paneer Masala?


The main difference is the way the paneer is cooked. In a malai kofta, the paneer is grated and made into balls of kofta along with potatoes and spices. (We’ll go into more detail later on). 

The paneer used in a paneer masala is chopped into cubes and added to the gravy in its raw form. The heat of the liquid is enough to chop each cube through quickly. 


Contrary to belief, an authentic paneer masala recipe does not (or should not) contain any nuts at all. If you enjoy the flavor of nuts, you can always cook the gravy base in groundnut oil. 

Malai kofta, on the other hand, contains a smooth cashew paste which gives the dish a nutty and creamy flavor. 

Malai kofta vs paneer masala: A Short History 

To find out more about these mouth-watering delicacies, let’s delve into the history of each one! 

Malai kofta

This authentic dish originated from the Mughlai recipes in north India. It is an immensely popular curry served in Indian restaurants across the globe. Malai kofta is a great alternative to dishes that contain meatballs and can be enjoyed as a side dish or a main meal. 

This creamy curry is normally served with Indian flatbreads such as naan or roti. 

Paneer Masala 

Paneer Masala

This north Indian curry is renowned for its high nutritional value and succulent taste. Once the staple diet of North Indians, masala is a versatile dish that can be served with meat or vegetables. The velvety, smooth gravy is popular with both adults and children, and you’ll never struggle to find this item on any Indian restaurant menu. 

Paneer masala is a firm favorite at celebratory events such as weddings and parties and is best served with any of the following options:

  • Basmati rice
  • Jeera rice
  • Steamed rice
  • Garlic naan 
  • Plain roti 

To see how to prepare an authentic paneer masala, take a look at this video.

Want to know the difference between paneer masala vs paneer tikka masala? Then click here!

Malai kofta vs paneer masala: Is There A Vegan Version?

Sure! You can make just about anything vegan these days. Most grocery stores now provide whole areas dedicated to plant-based products.

Read on to find out how to switch it up! 

For the paneer

Paneer can be swapped for pieces of tofu. Alternatively, you can remove the tofu altogether and add your favorite vegetables! 

Malai paneer vs paneer, which is better? Click here to find out!

For The Dairy

Butter can be replaced with cooking oil or a plant-based alternative. If adding cream to the dish, you can also try a non-dairy product. 

Another way to make a dish creamier is by adding cashew nuts. If you suffer from nut allergies, try adding poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, or watermelon seeds! 

How Is Malai Kofta Made: Recipe

Malai kofta is the perfect comfort dish when it’s cold and wet outside. The soft potato balls with the sweetness of the gravy base make this dish a popular choice when it comes to Indian cuisine. 

So throw on your cooking aprons and let’s make it! 


For the Kofta 

  • 1 cup of grated paneer
  • 2 large potatoes (cooked, cooled and grated) 
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala 
  • 3 tbsp almond flour
  • 15 cashew nuts
  • Handful of raisins

For the gravy 

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil of your choice
  • 2 large onions
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp fennel powder
  • 1/4 cumin powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 garam masala 
  • 6 tbsp cashew paste 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt 
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream


1. In a mixing bowl, add the following ingredients:

  • Grated potatoes
  • Grated paneer
  • Cornstarch 
  • Garam masala 
  • Salt

2. Add in chopped cashews and a handful of raisins before mixing the ingredients together. 

3. Divide into 8 balls – or more if there is any leftover. The mixture should be smooth instead of sticky. Heat up some oil in a pan and slide each ball in. Fry until golden brown and crispy.

4. Place to one side while you prepare the gravy base. 

For The Gravy Base

1. Fry the onions until translucent in color before adding the chopped garlic.

2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and fry until soft before adding in the cashew paste. 

3. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes. 

4. Once cooked, allow to cool before adding to a blender jar. 

5. Blend until smooth. You can also strain the mixture through a sieve for an even finer gravy. 

6. Add a spoonful of cooking oil or butter to a pan over a medium heat.

7. Place a bay leaf in the pan along with 2 green cardamoms and a piece of cinnamon. 

8. Fry for 30-60 seconds before adding the blended mixture. Then simmer until hot. 

To prepare the malai kofta, both the gravy and the kofta balls should be cool and not piping hot. If served hot, the kofta balls will become soggy and not crispy. 

Malai kofta vs palak paneer, which is better? Click here to find out! 

Lastly, if you want to learn more about paneer, check out our article, Everything You Need To Know About Paneer.

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