One of the most popular vegetarian dishes that have ruled the Indian Cuisine across time unrecorded is the Spinach and the Cottage Cheese Curry, or better known as Palak Paneer.
With its origin in Punjab, one of the northern states of the Indian subcontinent, this dish has had a history of fan followers. Like most other Indian curries, this one too exhibits the aromatic flavors of the Indian spices. It’s rich, creamy and the spices blend in absolute harmony to bring out the best of the otherwise neutral-tasting ingredients – Spinach (Palak ) and the Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer).
But now, since dairy is out of the question, I thought of trying this recipe using Tofu. Besides, now that there are so many recipes and videos featuring this curry recipe, it would only be ludicrous of me now to give this a try. 😉
So here is my take on this recipe. I used ingredients that were readily available in my kitchen and with minimal oil to keep this dish as simple and as healthy as possible.
Also, if you worry about draining the excess water from your tofu, jump to the notes section for a quick tip and some kitchen equipment suggestions.
Spinach and Tofu Curry
- 2 bunches of spinach leaves
- One packet of extra firmTofu
- 1 onion- chopped
- 1 tbsp of ginger & garlic paste
- 2-3 Green chilies- chopped and slit, (depending on how hot your chili is or as per your taste)
- 1 red dried chili
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of coriander powder
- 1 tsp of cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp of garam masala powder
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tsp of Salt or as per your taste
- 1/2 tsp of sugar ( you can omit adding sugar, but I prefer balancing the taste with salt and sugar combined. 🙂 )
- Thoroughly wash and drain the spinach leaves.
2. Chop the onions and the green chilies. 🙂
3. Once the Tofu has been well drained and squeezed of the excess water, cut them into small cubes, shallow fry them in oil and keep it aside. This is purely optional. If you’d prefer, you can even toss them in the oven to make them crispy.
4. Now to prepare the gravy, heat 2 tbsps of oil. Add the red chilies, cumin seeds, and the asafoetida.Once the spices begin to splutter, add the chopped onions and cook on low-medium heat.
5. As the onions turn soft and translucent, add the ginger-garlic paste and the remaining spices with some salt and stir it for another 7-8 minutes.
6. Once the onions and the ginger-garlic mixture gets rid of its raw smell, add the spinach leaves into the pan.
7. As you keep stirring for about 5-7 minutes, you will see the spinach mixture turn soft and mushy, and will be reduced to half as compared to what it looked like before.
8. The next step is to blend this spinach-onion-ginger-garlic mixture into a creamy gravy.
(If you are using a standard blender, cool this mixture for at least 10 minutes before churning it. But in case you have a hand-blender, you can save some more time and blending it right away.)
9. Blending the mixture will give you a rich green and smooth gravy-like consistency. At this point, if you feel that the gravy is too thick, add 1/2 cup of water to avoid the curry from sticking to the bottom of your pan. Now, check the seasoning and adjust the salt and sugar as per your taste.
10. Your gravy base is now ready.
11.Now for the last few remaining steps, add the tofu cubes into the gravy and cook it covered on low heat for another 10-12 minutes. This will allow the spices to infuse with the tofu.
12. Traditionally, Ghee (clarified butter) or butter is added to garnish this dish, which I have replaced using a spoon of the Earth Balance Vegan Butter. 😀
13. That’s it. You are done. ♥
This curry is not spicy and tastes great when served hot with white rice or with any Indian flat bread of your choice.
Tips for the Tofu
- Just in case, frying the tofu seems like a hassle, try marinating them with a pinch of salt, some garlic powder seasoning and a tbsp of flour/corn startch. Prep you baking sheet with a parchment liner, spread the tofu pieces on the sheet and spray it with some cooking oil. Pop this tray into the oven at 350 F or 180 C for 15 minutes. This will definitely save you more time.
- If you’ve had a hard time draining excess water from your tofu, I would recommend using a Tofu Press. If you plan your meals ahead, then using a tofu press is a great idea. I absolutely love it. If not, try keep the tofu between two plates and by placing a heavy bowl on top to release the excess water. 🙂
- For months, I have been using the standard kitchen top blenders . As much as I love mine, I also feel like I am wasting time waiting for my curry to cool down before I can blend it. So I got myself an immersion hand-blender that has made my life so much easier. 🙂
Enjoyed the Recipe?
Did you try this recipe out yet? If you have and you loved it as much as I did, please drop in a comment, share and help spread the love by sharing a picture on Instagram tagging me @frommyvegandiary.
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