One of my favourite vegetarian foods is palak paneer, a spinach and cheese curry. There is only one minor problem with it, and it is precisely one of its key ingredients: Paneer.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it. But I cannot seem to be able to find it in stores, trying to replace it with other cheeses just leads to weird-looking attempts at the recipe, and making the paneer myself… well. has anyone tried to make paneer from scratch on a busy week? Um… not very practical.
So, the ultimate way to make palak paneer is to not make palak paneer at all, but to make palak TOFU. Yup, you read that right. Tofu actually has quite a neutral flavour that works very well with the spices of the dish, it holds its shape properly, gives nice texture and colour, and from a nutritional point of view, I quite prefer it to the paneer.
I know this may sound strange, but seriously: my lovely indian boyfriend enjoyed it a lot, and he was so impressed that I had actually taken the time to make the paneer from scratch… it was only after several times of making it that I told him it was tofu!
- 300 g paneer or tofu (if using tofu: freeze and defreeze so it firms up)
- 450 g frozen chopped spinach
- 2 tbsp coconut oil (3 if using tofu)
- 1/2 big onion, finely chopped (75 g)
- 1 tsp garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp ginger paste or 1 inch ginger
- Optional: 1 green chili, desseded and sliced
- 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 2 bay leafs or 1 big indian bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Optional: 1/4 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream (4 tbsp if using tofu)
- Optional: 1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (you can leave it out and maybe add 1&2 tsp cinnamon and garnish with coriander, but the flavor will be very different)
- Cook the spinach according to the package instructions (I cook mine in the microwave).
- In a pan, put some oil (1/2-1 tbsp) with the whole spices and the chili. Once they start warming up, add the garlic, ginger and onion, with a pinch of salt.
- Brown in the pan for about 10 minutes until the onion is tender. Then, add the powdered spices and cook for one minute.
- Add the spinach with some water and salt. Let cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the tofu and let cook together for a couple of minutes.
- Let it cook until the water has evaporated to the consistency of the gravy you like.
- Turn off the stove, add the yoghurt and the fenugreek leaves and serve.
Nutritional information, per serving (serves 3)
- 488 kCal
- 8.5 g net carbs, 5.2 g fiber, 13.7 g total carbs
- 26.1 g protein
- 38.7 g fat