One of the most popular vegetarian dishes that have ruled the Indian Cuisine across time unrecorded is the Spinach and the Cottage Cheese Curry, popularly known as Palak Paneer.
With its origin in Punjab,the northern state of the Indian subcontinent, this dish has had a history of a long list of fan followers. I have to admit that this dish is one true example of taste and flavors of the Indian spices, so well combined that it magically brings out the best of the two individually bland tasting prime ingredients – Spinach (Palak ) and Indian Cottage Cheese (Paneer).
Yes, I remember this is my devoted happy vegan blog and I have been bragging about diary cheese here. Sorry, it isn’t my fault. This gravy recipe is a show stopper of its own kind. And so, now to the facts- I will be honest to accept that I had been craving for this curry for quite sometime and how silly of me for not even thinking of the Spinach and Tofu curry or rather the Palak Tofu Curry. 🙂
It has taken me quite a few attempts to understand how to use the Tofu, while the world was making miracles this ingredient. 🙂 And I should be humble to share the open secret of always draining the tofu well before they can be cut into cubes for any of the recipes they are meant to be used and if they can be tossed, you are surely a better step ahead. 🙂
Coming to the point, here is this quick recipe that makes each spice so worth of using it.
What would you need? (makes for 4-6 people)
- 2 bunches of spinach leaves
- a packet of Tofu (firm or extra firm)
- 1 onion- chopped
- 1 tbsp of the 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
- pinch of asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp of Salt and more as per taste. 🙂
- 1/2 tsp of sugar ( you can omit adding sugar, but I prefer balancing the taste with salt and sugar combined. 🙂 )
To Simply Prepare :
- Thoroughly wash and drain the spinach leaves.
2. Chop the onions and the green chilies. 🙂
3. Once the Tofu has been well drained squeezed of the excess water, cut them into small cubes and and mildly toss them in oil and then keep aside.
4. Now to prepare the gravy, heat oil in a vessel and once ready, add the red chili, the cumin seeds and a pinch of asafoetida and wait a second or two till it splutters. Now add the chopped onions and the chili and keep cooking on medium heat.
5. Add the ginger garlic paste and the first batch of salt to soften the onions quickly.
6. Once the chopped onions are almost translucent, add the spinach leaves into it along with the turmeric. Reason for adding the turmeric at this point is because of it’s natural antibiotic properties, we want it to cook along with the spinach leaves.
7. In say 5 minutes, you would see the spinach softened and reduced to half in comparison to what it was initially looking like. 🙂
8. Now in a regular or a hand blender, blend this partially cooked mixture of spinach and onions and churn to see to see the creamy gravy. Yay! 🙂
9. Add 2 tsp of oil in the pan and now add the rest of the spices – cumin, coriander and garam masala powder and then add this creamy, highly rich and green gravy into the spices and stir in well. You would want to check the seasoning here once and accordingly add salt and sugar to taste.
10. Add the tossed tofu pieces into the gravy and cover it, allowing it to cook under cover 😉 for low heat for 7-10 minutes allowing the flavors to seep in the tofu, adding 1/2 cup of water.
11. Traditionally, Ghee or clarified butter or butter is added to garnish this dish, which we can conveniently replace with a spoon of vegan butter. 😀
12. And finally you are done. ♥
Serve it hot with white rice or with any Indian flat breads of your choice and cherish the taste and health of spinach and tofu. Enjoy!
Hope you relish this simple twist to this traditional rich Indian cuisine as much as I and my family did. 🙂