Happy winter. We’ve been cooped up inside for the last couple of months and I’m getting extremely bored. At least with a hobby that takes place in the kitchen, I don’t need specific weather to do something fun. I’ve been getting more adventurous in the kitchen, trying to make more plant-based recipes and keeping things healthier. We’ve been playing around with baby led weaning, so everything I make for my husband and I, we’re feeding to the little one. That said, we don’t want her eating a bunch of dairy based cream and cheese. That’s a big push for why I made this vegan palak paneer with tofu.

Indian curried spinach and tofu vegan

We tried feeding her some foods using dairy cream and she got extremely plugged up. Nobody wants to deal with that, so we decided this was the extra push we needed to get the dairy out of our diets. And honestly this stuff was equally good without it. Not only that, but there is no cholesterol in this dish when it’s made with plant based ingredients! Now feel free to make it with traditional paneer and dairy cream, but it’s modified for those of you who are trying to make this plunge!

Palak paneer vegan friendly with tofu and served with roti

What you’ll love about this vegan palak paneer with tofu?

  1. It’s vegan. A dish like this can be vegan, as much as you might think otherwise. Trick your friends and tell them it’s traditional palak paneer, or Indian curried spinach and cheese. Then surprise them and tell them it’s vegan and see how they react.
  2. It’s packed full of vegetables. With each serving packing about 4 cups of fresh spinach, half a tomato, and a quarter of an onion, you’re definitely getting a good amount of your servings of fruits and vegetables with this dish.
  3. It’s packed with antioxidants. With ingredients like turmeric, you’re getting lots of health benefits in addition to delicious flavor.
Curried spinach and tofu vegan version of palak paneer

How to make the cashew cream?

I have a recipe for this, but it’s really quite simple. Soak 1/2 cup of cashews for about 4 hours prior to making this dish. Once you’re ready, blend them with 3/4 cup of water. That’s it!

Vegan palak paneer with tofu and spinach

How to make the tofu?

  1. Press the tofu. I usually cut the block down the center to reduce the thickness and then lay each piece on a few layers of paper towels.
  2. Cover the tops with more paper towels and then place something heavy over the top for about 10 minutes. I use my dutch oven or cast iron skillet, but use what you have available.
  3. Remove the weight and cut into 1″ cubes.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan or dutch oven on the stove. Add the tofu cubes and pan fry for about 10 minutes. 
  5. Be sure to stir this so you prevent sticking and that all the sides of the cubes get cooked. You can cook it longer or for less time depending on the texture you desire.
Vegan Indian curried spinach and tofu dish

How to make the vegan palak paneer with tofu?

  1. Start by heating olive oil in a large dutch oven or large frying pan. Add the cumin seeds and turmeric and allow this to cook for about 30 seconds. You should hear your cumin seeds start to sizzle.
  2. Add the onion and allow that to sauté until it starts to brown.
  3. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute until it is fragrant.
  4. Add the coriander cumin, garam masala, chili powder, and cayenne pepper if using. Stir them in and cook for a few seconds.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and half a cup of water. 
  6. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes get soft then add the tomato paste, 1/2 cup water, kasoori methi, serrano peppers, and salt. Allow this to cook for about 3 minutes until it all comes together.
  7. Add spinach in parts allowing it to wilt. Cook for 8-10 minutes and ensure all leaves have wilted. Reduce the heat.
  8. With a food processor or immersion blender, blend the contents to your liking. For a smoother consistency, blend for longer. We prefer our dish to be quite smooth, but feel free to blend less if you like more of a texture.
  9. Bring the mixture back to a simmer for about 5 minutes allowing the contents to form a nice gravy. Add the tofu and cream and cook until it’s all warm.
  10. Serve alongside rice or rotis.

Vegan Palak Paneer with Tofu

This vegan take on an Indian favorite uses tofu in place of paneer, and cashew cream in place of the dairy cream. It’s delicious and will remind you of the buffet.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: curried spinach and tofu, indian palak paneer with tofu, vegan palak paneer
Servings: 4
Calories: 307kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp ginger paste
  • 2.5 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp coriander cumin powder (or coriander powder)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves dried)
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced (more or less to your preference of heat)
  • 12 cup spinach (about 2 average store bought containers or 2 frozen packs)
  • 1 cup cream (cashew cream or non-dairy milk)
  • 1 block of tofu, cut into cubes and pan fried
  • 1 cup water (more or less to achieve desired gravy consistency)

Instructions

Tofu Prep

  • Press the tofu to get the extra liquid out. I do this by cutting the block in half to make two thinner rectangles and then cover top and bottom with a few layers of paper towels. Place something heavy (cast iron skillet, dutch oven, etc) over the top and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
  • Cut the rectangles into about 1″ cubes. Heat a dutch oven or large skillet with olive oil and add the tofu. Cook this for about 10 minutes stirring to ensure all sides get heat. You can cook it more or less to your desired texture. This will leave it similar consistency to paneer.
  • Once it’s done, remove from the pan and set aside.

Palak Paneer

  • In the same pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil and then add the cumin seeds and turmeric for about 30 seconds to allow the seeds to sizzle.
  • Add the onion and sauté until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Then add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the garam masala, the corainder cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper if using. Stir this in and cook for a few seconds.
  • Next stir in the tomatoes and about 1/2 cup water and sauté for a couple minutes. The tomatoes should start to get soft.
  • Add the tomato paste, kasoori methi, serrano peppers, salt, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir together well and allow to cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Add spinach to the pan in parts. It will wilt and reduce in size. If using frozen, you can add it all at once since it is already wilted. Stir it occasionally and allow it to cook for another 8-10 minutes. Ensure the spinach is all cooked down then reduce the heat to low.
  • Using a food processor or immersion blender, pulse the mixture until it’s blended to your liking. We prefer it more of a smooth texture, so we blend longer. If you like a rougher or leafier texture, do less.
  • Place it back in the pan and simmer for 5 minutes allowing it all to come together. Add the cream and the tofu and cook until warmed through. It should only take a minute or two.
  • Serve immediately with rice, rotis, or naan.

Notes

You can also use any nut milk or coconut milk in place of the cashew cream. If you also don’t want vegan options you can add real paneer in place of the tofu.

Let me know what you thought of this recipe in the comments below! Did you make it vegan?

-Cassie 🙂

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