Enjoy gourmet restaurant-style Indian food at home with this Vegan Palak Tofu Paneer! A fragrant, creamy spinach curry made healthier with tofu instead of cheese. An easy yet impressive vegan Indian dinner!
1(14-ounce or 16-ounce / 400-454g) block of extra firm tofu
For the Baked Tofu Method
4teaspoonsneutral-flavored oil,such as grapeseed oil
8-10ounces(225-285g) spinach, washed well and tough stems removed
½cup(70g) raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 1 hour (if your blender isn’t high-powered, I recommend soaking in cool water overnight or for 8 hours)
1 ¼(300 mL) cups water
2garlic cloves,peeled but left whole
1.5inch(~3.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1serrano pepper,stem removed (remove seeds and membranes for a mild heat)
2small tomatoes,roughly chopped
1tablespooncoconut oil,or oil of choice
1teaspoonwhole cumin seeds
1medium yellow onion,diced
Freshly cracked black pepper
½tablespoonfenugreek leaves,also known as kasoori methi (optional)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice
White rice or Indian flatbread such as roti,naan, or paratha
Soak the cashews in boiling water. If you’re using a Vitamix-style blender, 20-30 minutes is enough time. Otherwise, soak at least 1 hour. Then drain.
Prepare tofu - baking method only. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Drain the tofu and press it (“how to press tofu” instructions are in the blog post). Chop the tofu into cubes.1. In a bowl, gently toss the tofu cubes with the 4 tsp oil, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1 TBSP nutritional yeast (if using).2. Bake on the prepared tray for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy and browned.
Prepare tofu - boiling method only. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drain the tofu and pat with paper towels to remove excess water. Chop the tofu into cubes.Add the cubed tofu to the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the tofu from the water and drain immediately. Set aside.
Blanch the spinach. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (use the same pot if you boiled the tofu). Meanwhile prepare an ice bath (a large bowl of ice water). Submerge the spinach leaves in the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, or until wilted yet still bright green. Immediately transfer to the ice bath to stop cooking. Once the water is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can. Transfer spinach to a clean dish towel to dry out while you prepare any remaining ingredients.
Make the spinach sauce. Add the blanched spinach to your blender with the soaked and drained cashews and all remaining Spinach Sauce ingredients. Puree until totally smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Make the masala. Heat a large deep pan over medium heat with the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 minute, or until a bit darker and very fragrant, tossing frequently. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until golden. Add the turmeric, coriander, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, a black pepper to taste, and bay leaf (if using). Cook for 30 seconds, stirring the spices into the onions.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pour in the Spinach Sauce and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick, stirring occasionally and adding more water if the sauce appears to be drying out.
Stir in the garam masala and, if using, crush the fenugreek leaves into the gravy. If using boiled tofu, add that now Stir gently to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on top. If using baked tofu, serve it on top of the spinach curry at the end.
Add cilantro to garnish and serve with white rice or Indian flatbread.
*If you have a powerful blender like a Vitamix, you can soak the cashews in boiling water just 20-30 minutes. You can also do very little chopping of the ginger, pepper, and tomatoes and let the blender do most of the work.