I adapted the classic North Indian's malai kofta, a dish of potato and paneer balls in tomato curry, and gave it a vegan twist. I doubled down on coconut for extra flavor and creaminess without dairy. I really enjoy eating Indian food: The way the spices come together and explode on my taste buds gives me a sense of warmth and grounding.
Spoon 1/2 cup of the thick cream off the top of the can of coconut into a medium bowl and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half the onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, garam masala, coriander, curry powder, mustard, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the tomato paste is brick red, about 1 minute more.
Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the crushed tomatoes and the remaining liquid from the can of coconut milk into the pan. Bring to a simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the remaining onion, the cilantro, chickpea flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the bowl with the coconut cream and mix until well combined.
Once the oil is shimmering but not smoking, working in batches, use a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon to form round dumplings from the chickpea flour mixture and gently add to them to the oil. Fry the dumplings, flipping them halfway through, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
Divide the rice between plates or bowls and top with dumplings and creamy curry sauce. Garnish with more cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
Read the labels on condiments and prepared items to make sure they are vegan. Some can be not-so-obvious sources of animal products.
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