The chilly is biting again once more and I can’t put on sufficient layers and drink sufficient scorching drinks to maintain heat. I additionally crave wholesome consolation meals so my right now’s recipe is my vegan tackle a traditional Indian dish – saag paneer. It’s a staple on Indian eating places’ menus however in case you haven’t come throughout it, it’s a spinach and paneer cheese curry that hails from Punjab, the northern area of India.
Though I’ve not grown up on it myself, in a humorous approach it jogs my memory of my childhood and my childhood nemesis – creamed spinach, which I used to be pressured to eat regularly as an anemic youngster. Like I believe most children, I simply needed to endure it with a purpose to get my palms on the dessert (some issues haven’t modified 😉 ), however now the style this curry – which is a extra scrumptious tackle creamed spinach in my opinion – makes me weirdly nostalgic and brings me consolation.
One of many key parts of this dish – recognized all around the world as saag paneer (though palak paneer is extra precise, palak = spinach) is paneer, which is a sort of agency cheese made out of dairy milk. As this element is clearly out of limits for a vegan, I sought to imitate paneer with tofu. I used agency, properly pressed tofu to approximate paneer’s texture and submerged it in a mix of seasonings, aromatics and spices to banish the blandness and provides it flavour. It’s clearly not the identical factor, however I’m actually proud of how the completed dish has turned out and we’ve been having fun with it quite a bit currently.
Additionally it is fairly fast to make. The marinade solely takes seconds to place collectively and the spinach sauce, in distinction to many dishes of this kind, doesn’t require extended simmering. Actually, I solely cook dinner it for about 10-Quarter-hour to retain as a lot dietary worth of spinach as attainable. It advantages from being made a day upfront, however in the event you don’t have that luxurious of time, it’s completely high-quality too. I hope you’ll give it a attempt to that you simply’ll take pleasure in it in the event you do.
MORE ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
TOFU: Agency tofu serves to substitue paneer on this historically vegetarian recipe. For optimum flavour, I marinate the tofu in a mix of seasonings, spices and aromatics in a single day so that each one the flavours get absorbed. For those who needed to arrange it upfront, you could possibly marinate it even longer, as much as 3 days.
LEMON JUICE: I used lemon juice to offer tofu a little bit of a cheese-like tang and a few extra to season the spinach sauce. Other than including flavour, lemon juice additionally helps our physique to soak up non-heme iron in spinach.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Dietary yeast, which is a staple vegan seasoning made out of inactive yeast, helps to flavour tofu with a slight cheese-like flavour.
CUMIN SEEDS: Cumin seeds are used to flavour the oil that’s the base of the curry sauce and to marinate tofu.
TURMERIC: Turmeric is one other spice to that key on this Indian dish. I used a bit of to flavour the tofu and a few extra to flavour the sauce.
GARAM MASALA: Garam masala, which is a warming spice mix generally utilized in Indian delicacies, is used within the sauce in two methods. I add some to the sauteed aromatics and toast it off very gently earlier than including in liquid and sprinkle a bit of extra on the finish to complete the dish off. I additionally use a small quantity of this mix to flavour the tofu.
GARLIC & GINGER: Garlic and ginger want no introduction, I’m positive. They belong to a bunch of greens known as aromatics and type the spine of most savoury dishes all around the world. Garlic and ginger are true staple of Indian delicacies (alongside onion and recent chillies) and so they’re used right here to flavour the curry sauce and I additionally added threw a little bit of them into the tofu marinade to assist me banish its blandness.
SPINACH: Spinach is the important thing ingredient of the sauce though traditonally mustard leaves had been usually used. As this dish grew to become a staple on Indian eating places menus all around the world, mustard greens acquired changed by a extra available spinach. I used recent spinach, however frozen spinach works simply as properly. There are two choices on the subject of texture. For those who just like the sauce to be clean, course of the spinach in a blender. I personally desire a little bit of texture to this curry sauce, which is why I solely pulse a number of occasions it in a meals processor as a substitute. For those who dislike spinach, why not return to this dishe’s roots and use a drifferent darkish leafy inexperienced veg? Mustard leaves and kale would each be a high-quality substitute, however beware that every of them will deliver their very own distinctive flavour to this dish.
VEGAN CREAM: Cream is the ultimate ingredient on this easy curry sauce. I used vegan single cream by Oatly, however any vegan single cream product will work simply as properly. Alternatively, you may make your individual cream by mixing soaked cashews with a small quantity of water or, of coconut flavour doesn’t hassle you, use full fats coconut milk within the place of vegan cream.
Historically, this dish is made with paneer – a agency sort of dairy cheese, however since I needed to make this dish vegan I made a decision to imitate paneer utilizing tofu. I pressed it, cubed it after which marinated it in a heady concoction of spices, seasonings and aromatics in a single day to offer it most flavour. I then baked it in a scorching oven to make it firmer, crispier and to accentuate the flavours of the marindade. An alternative choice – in the event you don’t thoughts utilizing a bit extra oil – is to coat it in potato starch after marinating and pan-fry it in scorching oil till crisp on all sides.
To arrange the spinach, add a splash of water to a heat pan after which pile on as a lot spinach as you possibly can. Transfer it round all of the pan utilizing kitchen tongs in order that no leaves get scorched. Add extra spinach as quickly as a few of the first portion wilts. Swap of the warmth as quickly as spinach is sort of all wilted and let it end off within the residual warmth.
As soon as the entire spinach has wilted, elevate it off the pan together with your kitchen tongs and add to a meals processor. Pulse till it’s minced fairly finely. You might additionally mix it in a meals processor (with or with out aromatics which might be fried within the subsequent step), however I personally desire some texture on this dish.
Pre-heat a medium measurement pan, add oil and as soon as the oil begins to shimmer, add entire cumin seeds and I additionally used a great pinch of chilli flakes (you could possibly use recent inexperienced chilli as a substitute, in the event you do this add it in later, with garlic and ginger). After a number of seconds, add onion and sautee it on low-medium warmth till virtually translucent. Stir usually.
Subsequent, add in garlic and ginger (and recent chilli if utilizing) and keep it up sauteeing till each are softened and aromatic. Subsequent add in dry spices and permit them to toast gently (make certain your warmth is low) with the aromatics. Stir the entire time.
Lastly, add in minced spinach and cream. Simmer for about Quarter-hour and your spinach sauce is prepared. Serve with baked (or fried) tofu, over rice or/and with a chunk of vegan naan bread (recipe to observe).
- 400 g / 14 oz agency tofu, pressed
- 60 ml / ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 tbsp dietary yeast
- ¾ tsp high-quality salt
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ cumin seeds
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp garlic powder or 1 clove finely grated
- vegetable oil, for baking (or frying)
- 2 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch (fried choice)
- 30 ml / 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- a pinch of chilli flakes or recent inexperienced chilli (non-obligatory)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger (thumb-size piece)
- salt & pepper, to style
- ½ tsp turmeric
- chilli powder to style
- 1 tsp garam masala, divided
- 400 g / 14 oz recent (or frozen*) spinach
- 180 ml / ¾ cup vegan single cream
- 10 ml / 2 tsp lemon juice, alter to style
- 360 g / 2 cups basmati rice, cooked or vegan naan
- recent corinader / cilantro
- Minimize pressed tofu into into uniform, bite-size items. My had been 2.5 cm / 1″ squares.
- Mix the entire remaining elements (aside from oil and potato starch) and 120 ml / ½ cup of water in a medium-size, flat bottomed dish/field. Prepare tofu items on high and spoon marinade over the tofu with a spoon.
- Place the tofu within the fridge. Marinate for so long as you possibly can, ideally in a single day. Give the tofu a stir from time to time to all items are evenly coated.
- BAKED OPTION: Pre-heat the oven to 200 C / 390° F. Elevate tofu out of the marinade and organize on a paper lined baking tray. Bake for Quarter-hour, after Quarter-hour coat dried tofu items in 1 tbsp (15 ml) of oil and return to the tray, bake for additional 15-20 minutes.
- FRIED OPTION: Elevate tofu out of the marinade and coat it in potato starch on all sides. Warmth up a number of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, as soon as the oil is scorching, organize tofu within the pan. Pan-fry on low-medium warmth, flipping the items regularily, till golden brown and crispy.
- Warmth up a big measurement frying pan, add a great splash of water and half of the spinach. Utilizing kitchen tongs, transfer the spinach across the pan. As soon as most of it has wilted, add the second half and permit it to wilt.
- As quickly because the spinach has wilted, elevate it out of the pan (leaving any moisture behind) and place it in a meals processor. Pulse a number of occasions till uniformly minced. You may also use a blender, however I personally desire it to retain a little bit of texture.
- Wipe the frying pan clear, then warmth up oil in it. As soon as the oil is scorching, add cumin seeds. Permit them to sizzle a bit of on low warmth earlier than including in finely diced onion and a great pinch of salt.
- Saute onion on low warmth till virtually translucent (about 10 minutes) earlier than including in garlic and ginger. Saute for an additional 5 minutes or so stirring steadily.
- Be certain the warmth is low, earlier than including in floor spices: turmeric, chilli, half of garam masala, plus extra salt and a few pepper. Combine spices into the aromatics and keep it up pan-frying for an additional 60 seconds to toast them gently.
- Add in minced spinach, vegan cream, a great pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon. Cowl and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, then uncover and cook dinner for additional 5.
- Alter the seasoning and sprinkle the opposite half of garam masala on high.
- Serve alongside paneer tofu on a mattress of rice or with a naan mattress. Sprinkle with corinader and additional lemon juice if appreciated.
*SPINACH: I used recent spinach, however you should use frozen spinach as a substitute – about 285 g / 10 oz is equal to 400 g / 14 oz recent. Thaw earlier than utilizing.
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