Sunday, February 7, 2010

Veganized Palak Paneer (tofu)

What did I say, curry on the brain. I love spinach curry and wanted to veganize using tofu of course instead of paneer. My picture isn't so great unfortunately.

This is the result of combining the best of two great recipes - the tried and trusted version from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking...and a version I came across on another vegan blog (the blog is no longer around otherwise I'd point you there). I thought the end result was pretty amazing. It's simple but there are lots of steps and unfortunately a fair whack of dishes to wash up afterwards.


350 g firm tofu (one package, firm or extra)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice (sub lime if need be)
1 teaspoon canola oil (any light oil or coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
sea salt, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder (note there is some chili powder again in the spinach, so all depending, you might want to omit it here)
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 bunches fresh spinach (I use a 284 gram pre-washed "tub" of baby spinach)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 medium onion
2 fresh garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or 1 fresh green chili)
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon arrowroot (or sub corn starch)
1/4 cup plain soymilk (or sub almond or rice milk, etc)


Prepare the tofu beforehand by pressing out some of the moisture. The easiest way to do this is to place the block of tofu in a colander, placing a plate on top and then weighing it down with a tin of soup or a heavy skillet. It takes about 1/2 an hour, but you could leave this for however long you need to in the fridge.

Cut the pressed tofu into one inch cubes.

Combine the next 7 ingredients, (grated ginger, lemon juice, oil, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt and chili powder if using). Toss in the tofu and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes, or longer if need be. Try to turn a couple of times so that the marinade gets evenly distributed.

Final step with the tofu is to saute it in about 1 tbsp of the oil. Try to get each side lightly golden. You can use more oil if you want to -- I'm just trying to keep the calories as low as possible. Set aside once done or do ahead of time.

Moving on - the spinach. In a dutch oven or large saute pan, heat up about an inch of water. While that's boiling, chop the spinach roughly and then add to the boiling water, steaming until tender (a matter of a few minutes). Once done, turn off the heat and then drain out about 1/4 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup. Once you've taken that 1/4 cup out, there shouldn't be a whole lot left. Set the 1/4 cup of spinach water aside and then puree what's left in the pot together with the steamed spinach. I like to just use an immersion blender right there in the pot -- or you could move to a blender or something similar. Set the spinach aside.

Putting it together - using a mini-blender or food processor, combine the onion, ginger, garlic, fresh chili if using, and the 1/4 cup spinach water - puree into a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the paste (watch out, it will splatter) and fry it for about 30 seconds. Then add your other spices and diced tomatoes. Lower the heat and let that cook gently for about 5 minutes, watching it doesn't burn.

Add in your pureed spinach and season to taste with salt.

Combine the arrowroot powder with the soy milk in a small dish. Once you've removed the lumps, gently stir it in and let the sauce thicken up for a few more minutes. Lastly, add in the tofu and let it warm through, about 10 more minutes.

Done! Serve with rice or naan etc -- garnish with fresh cilantro if you like, or some more diced fresh tomato.

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