Before I became a vegan, Indian food was probably one of my favorite cuisines in the world. Although Indian food has some of the easiest recipes to veganize, ironically enough, I seem to eat it less frequently now. I mostly blame it on my after-school exhaustion; after a long day of classes, I am more than ready just to throw some potatoes in the oven, make a haphazard salad, and call it a night! That being said, Palak Paneer has always been one of my favorite dishes. If I had the patience, I could probably eat this every single night.
(I would also smell very strongly of curry though, so perhaps it is a good thing I do not).
If you are familiar with Indian food, you know the term “Paneer” usually refers to cheese. Luckily, this soft cheese can easily be substituted with firm or extra firm tofu! When I took pictures for this recipe, I originally roasted my tofu to make it crispy around the edges. However, the second time I made it for friends I just cubed the tofu and simmered it with the sauce in the pan. I think it really comes down to personal preference!
One final note: this is definitely my interpretation of a vegan Palak Paneer. I modified this recipe to suit my taste preferences and in no way claim to be a master of Indian cuisine 🙂 Personally, I love it! If you end up trying it out and feel the same way, please let me know by leaving a comment or tagging me on Instagram.
Now, on to the recipe!
Vegan Palak PaneerPrint This
- 7 - 9 oz Fresh Spinach
- 2 Large Beefsteak Tomatoes, Diced
- 1 Yellow Onion, Diced
- 3 Mild Green Chiles, Diced (I used Anaheim)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Ginger, Minced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Block of Firm or Extra Firm Tofu, Pressed and Cubed into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric
- 3/4 tsp Garam Malasa
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek
- 1 small Bay Leaf
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup Plain Vegan Yogurt (I used Kite Hill)
- Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
- 1/2 tsp Salt, plus more to taste
- Prep, slice, and dice all of your veggies
- To blanch the spinach, bring a large pot of 3-5 cups of water to a boil. Add in the fresh spinach leaves, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain into a strainer, then place the spinach leaves in a “bath” of cold water with a few ice cubes in it. Set Aside
- In a large pan, sauté the yellow onion, garlic, and ginger in a splash of water over medium-low heat, or until golden
- Add in the diced green chiles and cook for another 5 or so minutes
- Add the spices to the pan and let cook for an additional 1-2 minutes; the pan should be more dry during this point to “toast” the spices
- Finally, add the tomatoes to the pan and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and turn the heat off.
- Drain the spinach leaves, then place them into a high speed blender. Add in the sauteed onion, pepper, and tomato mixture, blending until smooth and creamy.
- Return the spinach puree to the pan, then add 1/2 cup of water and the cubed tofu
- Bring this mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes
- Stir in the fresh lemon juice, salt to taste, and yogurt at the end, right before serving. Serve with rice or naan, and enjoy!
If you do not have access to vegan yogurt, you may substitute it with an unsweetened plant-based milk of your choice, but it will not be as tangy. I would suggest adding more lemon juice to counteract this!
This recipe was adapted from Veg Recipes of India