Let me take a moment to wish a belated happy Mothers’ Day to all you moms and kids. I was very lucky this year to be able to spend the day with my own mother, which happens very rarely even though we live only a few hours apart. The older I get, the more grateful I am to have been raised by this generous, good-hearted woman who never met a person–or a vegetable–she didn’t like.
Which is a not-so-smooth way to segue into a recipe that contains one of my favorite vegetables. Years ago, I discovered Palak Paneer at the Indian restaurant in Columbia, S.C., and it quickly became one of my favorite dishes. Well, it was a very short-lived favorite because I became vegan just after I’d discovered it and almost wished I had never even tasted it. Over the years, I’ve tried to make a tofu version that’s just as good as what I remember, but all my attempts seem to fall flat. Without the ghee (clarified butter) and other dairy products (including the homemade paneer cheese), my spinach dish just never quite lives up to the palak paneer of my memories.
I’d love to say that this is the version that finally succeeds in surpassing the dairy version, but I’d be lying. Though it’s very good in its own right, delicious and richly spiced, this rendition still lacks the creaminess that probably can be accomplished only through the generous use of margarine. So I’ll keep working on the formula, but I think that this healthier recipe is a tasty replacement in the meantime.
Palak Tofu (Tofu in Curried Spinach Sauce)
- 1 package firm tofu (about 1 pound)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste (or 1 tsp. chopped ginger)
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder (or garam masala)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach (1 pre-washed bag)
- 3 tablespoons soy yogurt
- generous pinch ground fenugreek (optional)
- salt to taste
- Cut the tofu into cubes about 1/2-1 inch in size. Spray or brush a non-stick skillet lightly with oil and heat it on medium-high. Add the tofu in a single layer, and cook it, turning often, until it is lightly golden on all sides. Remove it from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the onions to the skillet and cook until golden. Add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for another minute. Add the tomato, curry powder, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook until tomatoes begin to break down.
- Add the spinach, stir well, and cover. Cook until the spinach is completely wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until almost smooth. Pour it back into the skillet, add the yogurt and fenugreek and salt to taste. Add the tofu to the skillet, and cook on low for about 15 minutes. Serve over rice or with Indian flatbread.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2
Since D. and I ate the whole recipe, I’m saying that this makes 2 servings, though if you are not piggy like we are and include side dishes, this may serve 4. Based on 2 servings, this provides: 274 Calories (kcal); 12g Total Fat; (36% calories from fat); 23g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 81mg Sodium; 8g Fiber.