If you frequent Indian restaurants or are familiar with Indian vegetarian cuisine, you might have encountered malai kofta, vegetarian "meatballs" that are made from a mixture of cheese and vegetables. The kofta are typically served in a richly flavored, spiced sauce and are not short on calories, but they do offer potential health benefits.
Every recipe for malai kofta is different, but the veggie balls are most often made with a base of paneer, a crumbly Indian cheese that comes from milk curds. To make the kofta, you can combine paneer with potatoes, peas, other vegetables, fresh herbs and spices. Malai kofta is most commonly served with a savory sauce that includes tomatoes, onions, spices and sometimes cream or ghee, which is clarified butter.
One serving of malai kofta is about 3.5 ounces. In that amount, you'll get about 175 calories, 13 grams of fat, 305 milligrams of sodium, 7.5 grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber and 6.5 grams of sugar. Alternately, in a 10.5-ounce package of malai kofta that contains three serving sizes, you'll get 590 calories, 33 grams of fat, 1,300 milligrams of sodium, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of sugar.
Although malai kofta is not inherently unhealthy, it is important to consider the nutrition facts of paneer, which makes up its foundation. In 3 ounces of paneer, you'll consume 300 calories, 23 grams of fat and 90 milligrams of cholesterol, which are relatively high amounts. For a healthy adult, MayoClinic.com recommends limiting daily fat intake to a range of 44 to 78 grams and keeping daily cholesterol intake under 300 milligrams. Consistently exceeding those amounts might elevate your risk of stroke, heart disease or other cardiovascular health problems.
When you're making malai kofta at home, you have considerably more control over what goes into it and what the nutrition facts are per serving. To make the kofta as healthy as possible, try limiting the amount of paneer you use and emphasizing vegetables during preparation. You can also cut down on fat and calorie counts in the sauce you use by limiting amounts of oil or butter and using a tomato base instead of a cream base.
Restaurants don't always have nutrition information readily available, so if you're watching your total calorie intake or following a special diet, it can be a lot healthier to make your own malai kofta or buy a variety that comes with a nutrition label. As HelpGuide.org points out, restaurant and processed foods tend to have a lot more sodium, fat and calories than those you can prepare at home, so it can be worthwhile to take a bit of extra effort for improved health value.
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Carly Schuna has been freelance writing and editing for more than a decade. In the lifestyle sector, her specialty areas are wellness, food/drink, and entertaining. With hundreds of recipes and nutrition-focused articles in her portfolio, Carly loves helping readers put a healthy spin on classics in the kitchen without sacrificing taste.