Palak Tofu Paneer
Palak Paneer (translation: Spinach Cheese) is one of my all time favorite Indian dishes. Yum! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to post a recipe for this. Of course, the traditional version uses fried cheese, heavy cream and overall too much oil. But it’s a pretty easy transformation to make this a fabulous plant-based dish. Tofu takes the place of the cheese and cashew cream replaces the dairy cream. Mm-hm. I did use a smidge of coconut oil to get the spices popping, but you certainly can omit it and just cook the spices in with the spinach instead of frying them first.
~ for the tofu paneer
- 1 block super firm tofu
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ cup water
~ for the palak
- 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach, thawed (of course you can use fresh!)
- 1 cup strained tomatoes
- 1½ cups cashew cream
- 2 whole red chiles (fresh or dried)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 TBS freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric (fresh or dried and ground)
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½-1 tsp chili powder (depending on the heat of your powder and your preference)
- pinch asafoetida (optional)*
- The day before you’re going to make the dish: squeeze as much water from the tofu block as you can with a towel or paper towel. Slice the tofu into about 1-1½” cubes. It doesn’t have to be exact. Whisk together the remaining paneer ingredients. Add the tofu cubes and stir to coat. Marinate overnight.
- Drain the tofu cubes and bake on parchment paper at 350° F for 30 minutes, flip at 15 minutes. Set aside.
- To make the palak, fry the ginger, turmeric, cumin seeds, asafoetida, whole chiles and chili powder in a small amount of vegetable oil until the cumin seeds sizzle and pop. Alternatively, just place all the spices with the ingredients in step #4 and continue from there.
- Add the spinach, cilantro and strained tomatoes. Cover and simmer until the spinach is cooked (about 10 minutes). Add bits of water if needed, to prevent sticking.
- To make the cashew cream, blend together 1 part raw cashews to 2 parts water. If you don’t have a high powered blender, soak the cashews for 3-5 hours prior to blending. I always make more than I need in a recipe to use in other things. It’s great for topping hot cereal!
- Stir in the cashew cream and tofu cubes and simmer for another 10 minutes on low.
- Serve with some brown basmati rice.
Serves 4. Enjoy!