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FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta

This FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta is part of my suite of FODMAP friendly vegetarian Indian recipes. I love Indian cuisine and it pains me that I can’t eat it without onion and garlic ruining my day afterwards. So! I developed this low FODMAP Malai Kofta recipe that is gluten free, low lactose and easily made vegan.

Malai Kofta is a creamy vegetarian curry that is filled with paneer kofta. Paneer kofta are fried balls of paneer and potato and are added to the curry base at the end. This recipe pan fries the kofta – this is not traditional, but I find it a lot easier and less stressful. This FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta is a comforting and delicious dish, all without onion and garlic.

An aerial close up view of a black skillet filled with FODMAP friendly Malai kofta topped with a swirl of cream and chopped coriander

FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta

There are a few tricks we’re using to make this Malai Kofta without onion and garlic. Firstly, spring onion and leek greens replace the onion in the curry base. Carrots help to replace the bulk that adding onion provides and tinned tomatoes keep the fructose content down.

To ensure the curry is FODMAP friendly, we omit the cashews from the kofta and the curry base. Lactose free cream (or coconut milk) replaces the cream, and homemade lactose free paneer is used in the kofta.

An aerial view of two bowls and a skillet filled with FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta. The skillet kofta is topped with a swirl of cream and coriander. The bowls are filled with white rice accompanying the kofta. The scene is set on a dark grey steel backdrop.

How to make a curry base without onion and garlic

I have developed a few curry recipes without onion and garlic now. I would say, though, that this recipe is probably the easiest. It uses spring onion greens, leek greens, carrots and tinned tomatoes to replace the flavour and bulk of onions in a traditional curry sauce.

Utilising different spices also helps create flavour without onion and garlic. I use a fair amount of cardamom pods in this recipe, but it really gives the low FODMAP curry base a good hit of flavour.

Another way of adding flavour to curry base without onion and garlic is to use asafoetida powder. Asafoetida has a cooked onion and garlic adjacent taste. It is very pungent, so you only need a tiny bit of the powder to reap the rewards. Generally speaking, asafoetida powder is cut with flour to make it less potent, so check to ensure it is gluten free. You can read more tips for adding flavour without onion and garlic here.

An aerial view of a skillet filled with FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta and topped with drizzled cream and chopped coriander. A spoon pokes out to the bottom left of the skillet, which sits on a white marble table

FODMAP notes for your Malai Kofta

This curry sauce is made without onion and garlic, but it also FODMAP friendly more broadly. Tinned tomatoes are quick and easy, but they also help keep the FODMAP content down. Per gram, they are interestingly more FODMAP friendly than fresh tomatoes. 100g of tinned tomato is a FODMAP friendly serve, whereas 65g of a common tomato is currently (as of May 2024) a low fructose serving.

I have chosen to omit the traditional cashew paste from this FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta. Cashews aren’t overly FODMAP friendly, even in small serves. Instead, I use lactose free milk and/or cream to add creaminess to the Malai Kofta.

On the topic of dairy: use lactose free cream and milk to keep this lactose friendly. Lactose free cream often uses gelatin, so you might need to make your own lactose free cream if you are vegetarian. This involves adding lactase to cream the night before use.

I use my own recipe for lactose free paneer here. It’s easy to make, tastes delicious and is a whole lot cheaper than the store bought variety here in Australia. I use 3 litres of lactose free full cream milk and 125ml (1/2 Australian cup) white vinegar.

A moody aerial view of a dark grey ceramic bowl filled with rice and FODMAP friendly Malai kofta topped with cream and coriander. A skillet of Malai kofta sits in the top right corner of the image, which is set on a dark grey backdrop.

Tips for making FODMAP friendly kofta

Choose all rounder variety of potato to make the kofta. Waxy potatoes don’t make for great mash, so they won’t work well here. In Australia, the white potatoes at the supermarket are an all rounder variety.

Both cornstarch and potato starch work equally well here. Choose what works best for you.

You can add some spices or coriander to the kofta, is you like. I quite like them plain with a bit of chilli, but you can add a bit of garam masala if you wish.

Make sure your pan and oil are both extremely well preheated. Because the kofta are made with cheese, they will very easily stick to the pan, which is a nightmare. A thoroughly preheated pan and oil combination will avoid this. I cook my kofta in my skillet.

An aerial close up view of a skillet filled with FODMAP friendly Malai kofta. The Malai kofta sits in a black skillet topped with cream and coriander

Can I make this low FODMAP Malai kofta vegan?

I have not tried to make this Malai Kofta vegan. The deliciously cheesy kofta are all part of the experience, but I will test a tofu version at some point. If you’d like to make the curry base dairy free, though, simply use oil and dairy free milk or coconut cream. The taste will be a little different with the coconut cream, but it will be delicious nonetheless.

A close up macro photo of golden brown fried cubes of paneer

More FODMAP friendly vegetarian Indian recipes

An aerial view of a bowl of FODMAP friendly paneer curry topped with a swirl of cream and chopped herbs. Paneer peeks out from the curry gravy and a cheesy naan dips into the top right corner of the curry. The bowl sits atop a grey steel backdrop and a glass of water sits to the top left of the image
An aerial close up view of a black skillet filled with FODMAP friendly Malai kofta topped with a swirl of cream and chopped coriander

FODMAP friendly Malai kofta

FODMAP friendly, no onion or garlic, gluten free
*This recipe uses Australian cups and measures. Use gram and ml for international accuracy.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 6 people


For the curry base:

  • 60ml (3 tablespoons)* butter or oil
  • 1 bunch spring onion greens chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium leek greens thoroughly washed and sliced
  • 50 g ginger grated
  • 1 bunch coriander roots thoroughly washed and chopped (save the leaves for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika optional, for colour
  • chilli powder I used Kashmiri to taste
  • 15-20 cardamom pods seeds kept and husks discarded
  • 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • 1 X 400g tin of plain tomatoes (see notes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 250ml (1 cup)* water

For the kofta:

  • 400 g steamed potato about 2-3 large
  • 400 g paneer I use homemade lactose free, see notes for the recipe
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or potato starch (make sure the cornstarch is gluten free if it needs to be)
  • Seasoning to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 green chilli
  • Oil for frying

To finish:

  • 60-125ml (1/4 – 1/2 cup)* lactose free milk, to your tastes
  • 60-125ml (1/4 – 1/2 cup)* lactose free cream, to finish the curry
  • Coriander leaves, to top the curry


To make the curry base:

  • Heat a large skillet with the butter or oil over a medium heat. Once warmed, add the spring onion greens, leek greens, ginger and coriander roots. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened and fragrant, then add the carrots. Add a splash of water whenever you need to.
  • Add the spices and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add the tinned tomatoes and a splash of water if needed. Stir well to combine and cook for 10-15 minutes until the carrot is soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To make the kofta:

  • Use a potato ricer or masher to mash the potatoes. Crumble or grate the paneer into the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and use your hands to combine into a smooth mixture. Taste and adjust for seasoning before forming into about 14 balls, roughly 1 tablespoon worth of mixture each.
  • Preheat a large frypan extremely thoroughly over a medium high heat. Paneer will cause the kofta to stick easily, so make sure the pan is nice and hot.
  • Add a splash of vegetable oil and pan fry the first batch of kofta. Keep them moving and fry them on each side until golden. Repeat with the remaining kofta.

To finish:

  • Blend the curry sauce base until smooth.
  • Add 1-2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, then return the sauce base to the skillet over a medium heat. Once warmed, add the milk or cream to achieve your desired thickeness and creaminess. Taste and adjust for seasoning and spices. Just before serving, add the kofta into the curry sauce. Drizzle with extra cream and finish with coriander. Serve with rice.


  • You can also use my low FODMAP Nomato sauce recipe to replace some or all of the tinned tomato. One batch of Nomato sauce makes approximately 1.2kg, which is equivalent to 3 x 400g cans of tinned tomato. 
Keyword curry without onion and garlic, FODMAP friendly, FODMAP friendly Malai Kofta, gluten free, Vegetarian
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  1. 5 stars
    This was a great curry sauce Georgia! I didn’t make the paneer or kofta (but would love too!) and used chicken instead. It does make a lot of sauce and next time will make all the sauce base and only use half. Save the rest for the next curry. Great flavour- and I love lots of spice so added half a teaspoon of chilli powder in with the spice mix. Your recipes are really lovely.

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