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Bringing Malai Kofta to Your Table

Bringing Malai Kofta to Your Table

Katie Kwan | Chef's Blade

Recessionista is the new BoHo, as funemployed is the new investment banker. As underground eateries become the new Babo/Momofuku, we all find ourselves around a new table. Here in San Francisco, they are larger tables, perhaps viking length tables in warehouses, carpets in our parents’ houses, or blankets in parks. We are not eating in pairs or threes, but in tens and twenties.

We are all underground restaurants in our own way, cooking a select menu of 5-6 dishes for our masses. In San Francisco, we are pooling resources to remain eaters of good food without waste and without having to spend a lot. We remain people who can focus on how we feed ourselves and how we prefer to eat. Hopefully, some really interesting stuff is also happening.

A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I came together in a Herculean effort to fill a table with tomato lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, samosas, chicken vindaloo, vegetarian curries, chutneys, naan, and malai kofta. We brought what we had: nuggets of experience, bastions of inexperience, optimism, sweat, and fenugreek leaves.

And we created a kitchen table. We got comments like, “this is so much better than going to a restaurant”. We devoured the food without looking up, but, most importantly, the time we spent together, the excitement we had, and the “holy shit, things are burning – o well!” attitude we shared, made us owners of our meal.

I made Malai Kofta, a vegetarian “meatball” in tomato sauce. Malai Kofta is basically a ball of mashed potatoes and purple yams, filled with paneer, coconut and spices, which is then fried and topped with a sauce made from poppy seeds, nuts, onion, tomatoes, and more spices.

My sister snatched this recipe through her travels in India. She tried to annotate and translate a woman’s movement into metrics. But how do you translate handfuls and glassfuls into replicable instruction? And how do I, by secondary association, visualize her movements? I felt basically blind-folded.

I attempted what few instructions my sister scribbled in her journal and documented it here. I did this because these scribblings are the drop off where recipes by word of mouth or proxy can be lost.

I see this recipe is a culmination of what I want out of a day. Running around to Indian bazaars in San Francisco, asking advice from strangers who are holding the same ingredient I am holding, banging things in my mortar and pestle, making cheese, shaping balls, guessing, editing, drinking, and enlisting help. Watching a day come together in a succinct dish.

In the end, I loved my output. Though I stand by my interpretation of this recipe, it did come out like an appetizer rather than a main dish. The sauce was thick and chunky when it should have run thinner, like a marinara sauce.

I have made some changes to the original dish, so it is aspirational. If you have a day to putz in the kitchen, make these meatballs. In additional to tasting like a win, they have a really delicate sweet flavor. The spices were not too strong and more so harmonious.

1. Summary and Ingredients
2. Building the Components Together
3. Making the Kofta and Preparing the Malai Kofta to eat

For summary and ingredients, go to the next page—>