Palak Paneer - Veganized!

"This is the result of combining the best of two great recipes for Palak Paneer (Spinach with Paneer). I wanted to "veganize" a tried and trusted recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking....and then I came across a really good looking vegan version on a blog: I felt like the latter version could be improved by using some of the techniques and spices from the other. I have to say, the end result was amazing! Making this dish is simple but there are lots of steps, and lots of dishes to wash up. Hope that doesn't scare you off! You could take care of quite a bit of it the day before. I think at the end of the day the effort is worth it and I hope you will too."
photo by Prose photo by Prose
photo by Prose
photo by magpie diner photo by magpie diner
Ready In:




  • Prepare the tofu beforehand by pressing out some of the moisture. The easiest way to do this is to place the block of tofu in a colander, placing a plate on top and then weighing it down with a tin of soup or a heavy skillet. It takes about 1/2 an hour, but you could leave this for however long you need to in the fridge.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into one inch cubes.
  • Combine the next 7 ingredients, (grated ginger, lemon juice, oil, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt and chili powder if using). Toss in the tofu and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes, or longer if need be. Try to turn a couple of times so that the marinade gets evenly distributed.
  • Final step with the tofu is to saute it in about 1 tbsp of the oil. Try to get each side lightly golden. You can use more oil if you want to -- I'm just trying to keep the calories as low as possible. Set aside once done.
  • Next step - the spinach. In a dutch oven or large saute pan, heat up about an inch of water. While that's boiling, chop the spinach roughly and then add to the boiling water, steaming until tender (a matter of a few minutes). Once done, turn off the heat and then drain out about 1/4 cup of the liquid into a measuring cup. Once you've taken that 1/4 cup out, there shouldn't be a whole lot left. Set the 1/4 cup of spinach water aside and then puree what's left in the pot together with the steamed spinach. I like to just use an immersion blender right there in the pot -- or you could move to a blender or something similar. Set the spinach aside (I move mine to a bowl and clean out the same pot).
  • Next step -- putting it together. Using a mini-blender or food processor, combine the onion, ginger, garlic, fresh chili if using, and the 1/4 cup of spinach water - puree into a smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining tbsp of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the paste (watch out, it will splatter) and fry it for about 30 seconds. Then add your other spices and diced tomatoes. Lower the heat and let that cook gently for about 5 minutes, watching it doesn't burn.
  • Add in your pureed spinach and season to taste with salt.
  • Next combine the arrowroot powder with the soy milk in a small dish. Once you've removed the lumps, gently stir it in and let the sauce thicken up for a few more minutes. Lastly, add in the tofu and let it warm through, about 10 more minutes.
  • Done! Serve with rice or naan etc -- garnish with fresh cilantro if you like, or some more diced fresh tomato.

Questions & Replies

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  1. This is better than the Palak Paneer I've had in any restaurant! It tastes so fresh! I would definitely not make this on a week night, but it is well worth the effort for a special meal. I made it as written, but I didn't bother to chop the spinach before cooking. It was still easy to puree. I messed up (due to not reading the recipe carefully enough) and pureed my tomatoes with the onion, ginger, garlic, spices, and spinach water. The sauce was a little thin as a result, but I added some extra cornstarch, and it came out fine. Next time I will definitely use the fresh chili, because I thought it could use a little more spice. I made this as a vegetarian alternative to my husband's chicken curry. Our meat-eating guests seemed to enjoy this just as much as the chicken! My husband said that it was delicious and that he appreciated having some veggies with his meat (that it made him feel better). This will definitely become one of my staple dishes for company. Thank you so much for posting it. Reviewed for Veg*an Swap, November 2009
  2. Great dish! Definitely worth the effort. I did leave out the chili powder as mentioned in the recipe and substituted a seeded jalapeno as I wasn't sure what type of chili to use and I used regular milk vs. the soy milk. We served this dish with some Naan. This recipe is a keeper. Made for PAC, 2011.


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