Hello! and welcome…I’m back in the saddle after a brief break. I have a lot of recipes to post this week, so let’s get started!
One of my readers requested a recipe for palak paneer (spinch-cheese curry). I wanted to try a different recipe for palak paneer since there are so many varieties. After much hand-wringing I went back to my go-to recipe since I know how it turns out and I think it’s a great variation. It’s also super easy to make and doesn’t require any special ingredients from the Indian grocery store. This recipe is a riff on a recipe my Dear Mother-In-Law gave me years ago and actually appears in her cookbook, Green Leafy Vegetables.
Please note that I use tofu in place of paneer but feel free to use it if you can get it or if you make your own. This recipe is also very tasty with potatoes cooked in the gravy instead of or in addition to the tofu or paneer.
Spinach Tofu Curry (or Palak Tofu)
- 1+ tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp margarine (or butter or ghee)
- 3 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
- 1 green chili, finely chopped (or to taste, optional)
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce (or 1/2 tsp tomato paste or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tomato)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 3 cups fresh or frozen but thawed spinach, finely chopped*
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 8 oz (approximately) firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed (or paneer)
- additional oil for preparing tofu/paneer/potatoes
- 4 tbsp yogurt (soy or other) (optional)
Start by heating the 1 tbsp oil and the margarine/butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the cloves and bay leaf and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir around while it turns translucent, adding a little bit more oil if it starts to stick. When the onion starts to turn brown on the edges stir in the garlic, ginger and green chili (if using). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, adding a little bit of oil or water if it starts sticking. Add the tomato sauce and salt and stir. Wait for one minute and then stir in the spinach and garam masala. If the mixture is very thick, add a little water to make it the consistency of gravy. (The amount of water that you will need to add depends on how you will eat the curry. If you are eating it with bread, then you want a drier mixture. If you are having it with rice, then make it a little wetter.) Turn the heat to low and allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the spinach is simmering, prepare the tofu/paneer. Cut it into bite sized pieces. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp of oil. Add the tofu/paneer pieces and fry until light golden brown. Flip over and fry the other side the same way. Remove from the pan and drain.
Add the tofu/paneer to the spinach mixture and allow to simmer for another 2 minutes. Before serving, turn off the heat and add the yogurt (if using) and stir gently. Serve with chapatis, naan or rice.
*I used fresh spinach. I washed it well and drained the water. I put it into my vitamix (blender) with water to cover and processed until it was finely chopped. You can also use a food processor or hand chop if you like.