SEEMA Cooks: Vegan Palak Tofu

tofu
Image courtesy of Malathy Chandrasekar

I have not not always been a big fan of tofu. In fact, neither was I a big fan of paneer (cottage cheese). I guess it had something to do with the texture. They also don’t taste like much, so they need getting used to. Anyway, long story short, I decided to try tofu in place of paneer in this popular North Indian recipe for palak paneer.

Extra Firm Tofu

Tofu, being a watery, soy-based product, is somewhat tricky to handle. I remember the first time I cut open a tofu tetra pack, I almost ruined the whole thing, by dropping it on the counter. Lucky for me it was a soft landing, so I was able to save it from crumbling. Perhaps the most stable is the extra firm variety of tofu, which I used straight up the first time without draining the water. For some recipes, draining water is recommended, so I ended up investing in a tofu press.

Tofu Press

While there are several tofu presses you can choose from, the one I ended up was this simple device that’s highly rated on Amazon. It is easy to use. Just insert the tofu slab between the two plates and tighten the screws gently. Water drains out slowly and the whole process takes about 15 minutes. Draining the water made it easier to cut and cook the tofu.

Vegan Palak Tofu

In general, palak (spinach) paneer calls for the use of milk or cream, so you then get that creamy taste and texture. Since I don’t enjoy creamy dishes much, I decided to skip that ingredient in this recipe. My concerns about ruining the dish by eliminating milk/cream were unfounded. The spices, onion, and tomato, blended with slightly cooked spinach, make this dish so flavorful, you will not miss the cream! I was also pleasantly surprised about how good the sautéed tofu tasted in this blend.

Why Is This Healthy?

Spinach is low in calories, high in iron, fiber and antioxidants. It helps lower blood pressure and improve vision. Tofu is a nutrient-dense food. It is low in calories but high in protein and fat, and this makes it a great choice not just for vegans and vegetarians, but for anyone that wants a variety in their diet. It also contains many important vitamins and minerals.

The Recipe

This wholesome North Indian recipe made with tofu in a spicy spinach sauce, is delicious! Enjoy with steamed rice or hot rotis.

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Indian

Special diet: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, no added sugar

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time:15 minutes

Total time: 35 minutes

Serves: 2

Calories: 313kcal

INGREDIENTS

Tofu

  • 3 cups extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Spinach (Palak) Sauce

  • 5 cups spinach, packed
  • 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste, or crushed/minced fresh garlic and ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder, or cayenne pepper/paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup filtered water

METHOD

Tofu

  1. After pressing tofu in a tofu press and draining water, cut tofu into small cubes (you can eliminate this step if you do not have a press). Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add tofu cubes, cook for a minute and sprinkle salt, pepper, chili powder. Mix well and cook tofu gently till it is browned on all sides. Set it aside in a bowl.

Spinach (Palak) Sauce

  1. Cook spinach in the same pan for a minute and set aside.
  2. Add one teaspoon of oil, sauté crushed ginger and garlic, till browned. Add onion and tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add turmeric, salt, garam masala, chili powder and cumin powder. Mix well. Add cooked spinach, mix and set aside in a bowl. Let it cool for a couple of minutes.
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend to fine puree. Add a quarter cup of water to get the right consistency.

Palak Tofu

  1. Add cooked tofu and blended sauce to a pan and cook for a couple of minutes, making sure the sauce mixes well with the tofu.
  2. Transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Serve hot with fresh rotis and sliced cucumber.

Notes

Great with fresh roti or steamed rice.

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible

For the full recipe, go here!

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