Tofu haters will often say that it’s a tasteless and horrible ingredient to use in cooking, and I do agree with the tasteless element. So I often try to make sure that Tofu is seasoned and spiced well if I am going to use it otherwise it is indeed quite bland. Some of you will already know that the traditional north Indian recipe is “Palak Paneer” and uses Paneer cheese with Spinach. This is delicious and I do use the recipe with Paneer when I have it, but the cheese is high in fat and I don’t always have it to hand. Tofu however makes a great and healthier replacement and I think it has a nice texture as well. I don’t like the silken variety of Tofu for this dish so I use the firm type and I buy the “Cauldron” brand of Tofu which is in all major Supermarkets here in the UK. I usually buy the Tofu when there is a special offer and freeze them. When defrosted the Tofu makes a better texture than if used from the fridge.
PLEASE NOTE: always try and defrost the Tofu at room temperature. I have made the mistake of using a microwave to rush the defrosting process and the texture of the Tofu doesn’t turn out as well.
Many traditional Palak Paneer recipes call for cream to be added im, but this is a vegan recipe so I have added coconut milk instead but cream or normal cow’s milk definitely gives it a rich flavour. You could try with both and see which you like best 🙂
What you need:
- 500g chopped frozen spinach or about 4 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach (I have used homegrown spinach in these photos)
- 1 pack extra firm tofu (I use Cauldon brand 394g)
- 2 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
- Pinch of asafoetida
- Salt, to taste
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp coconut oil
How to make it:
- Dice your tofu into big cubes. Add your oil to a non-stick pan and fry the tofu on each side until it is firm and slightly browned.
- Add a little salt, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and 1/2 tsp cumin powder to the tofu and ensure all the cubes are coated evenly with the spices.
- Take the tofu out of the pan, and set aside in a separate bowl or plate. Blend the tomatoes and ginger until they are well combined and have formed a smooth puree.
- Add coriander powder, turmeric, cumin powder and add to the tomato ginger puree and combine well.
- Combine the whole wheat flour with the coconut milk in a bowl ensuring there are no lumps, and keep aside.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and when hot enough, add hing and cumin seed. As soon as the cumin seeds start to pop add the tomato puree mixture, and let it cook for a few minutes until the tomato puree has reduced to about half it’s original volume.
- Add the spinach and salt and then cook for about 10 – 12 minutes on a low flame.
- Now add the milk flour mixture, and let cook on low another 5 minutes until everything is combined well.
- Add the tofu and fold it gently into the spinach mixture, let simmer for a further 5 minutes. This allows the Tofu to take in all the flavours.
- Now taste and check the seasoning and add more if necessary. Once it’s ready, garnish with some dried red chillies, or chilli oil.
This dish is really nice served with roti, chapathi any other flatbread or rice.