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)*
*NOTE: Asafoetida, also called Hing, is a common Indian spice. Before it’s cooked it smells pretty bad. But once cooked, that smell is gone and its flavor is wonderful. It simply cannot be duplicated with other spices. It’s kind of like a combination of onion and garlic, but more earthy. It has been used in India as a culinary spice, but also has medicinal properties as a digestive aid, a remedy for asthma and bronchitis and to fight influenza and bacterial infections.

tofu “paneer”


  1. 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.
  2. Drain the tofu cubes and bake on parchment paper at 350° F for 30 minutes, flip at 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Stir in the cashew cream and tofu cubes and simmer for another 10 minutes on low.
  7. Serve with some brown basmati rice.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *