Weeknight Cooking

Vegan Palak Paneer

August  3, 2015
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 8 hours
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

There's no cheese in this "paneer" recipe, but there are perfectly seasoned, super crispy, cheesy-flavored blocks of tofu. Take some time to press and marinate the tofu in advance—the resulting texture is absolutely worthwhile. The green sauce may darken over time, but leftovers will taste even better on the second day, after the flavors and spices have had some time to mingle.

To make your own cashew cream to use in the recipe, you can follow these instructions: https://food52.com/recipes...Gena Hamshaw

What You'll Need
  • For the tofu paneer
  • 1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • For the palak paneer
  • 10 ounces (about 8 cups) spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 poblano or serrano chili, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped (about 1 or 1 1/2 cups, or you can use 1 can diced tomatoes, draining the excess liquid before adding them to the recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup cashew cream (see headnote) or coconut milk
  • 1 cup Basmati rice, for serving (optional)
  • 1 handful Chopped cilantro or chopped green onions, for serving (optional)
  1. To prepare the paneer, press the tofu between two plates or cutting boards and cover it with a heavy book or two. Leave it for at least an hour and up to overnight. Drain the liquid, pat the tofu dry, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. Place them in the bottom of a flat, airtight container. Whisk together the lemon, water, salt, and nutritional yeast. Pour this mixture over the tofu cubes and cover the container. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight (up to 2 days is fine, too).
  2. When the tofu is marinated, preheat your oven to 400° F and lightly oil a baking sheet. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes, or until the cubes are golden brown, flipping them halfway through.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Submerge the spinach leaves in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they're just tender. Transfer them to the cold water to stop cooking and preserve the lovely green color. When the spinach leaves are cool, drain and squeeze-dry completely. Transfer the spinach to a food processor and process into a thick paste. (Note: If you prefer a silky smooth palak paneer, you can add the spinach leaves to the blender with about 1/3 cup water and blend until the mixture is totally smooth. Some people prefer this, while others like a palak paneer that has a bit more texture, in which case a food processor is ideal.)
  4. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper and onion. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is very tender and soft and browning slightly. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic is very fragrant. Add the tomato, salt, garam masala, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, and lime juice, along with the spinach purée and the cashew cream. Stir and cook everything for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is flavorful and thick. Stir in the tofu paneer. Season everything to taste with additional salt and red pepper flakes.
  5. Serve the palak paneer over cooked rice and top with cilantro or onions if desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Teann Ingram
    Teann Ingram
  • Amy Bowman
    Amy Bowman
  • Sherrie Greene
    Sherrie Greene
  • Melanie Scott
    Melanie Scott
  • Nadine Barnett
    Nadine Barnett

13 Reviews

Teann I. December 27, 2020
Delicious! I did combine some steps. I added the fresh chopped spinach right to the dish after the tomatoes cooked down. Put it all in the blender to pulse. Added back to the pan and added the cream. Was perfect!
Amy B. April 12, 2020
So flavorful and delicious! We had to sub garbanzo beans for tofu bc apparently there is a tofu shortage right now. Looking forward to trying this as written though!
Sherrie G. December 19, 2019
Omg, it was wonderful! I followed it exactly except chopped the onion and only used a teaspoon of oil as we are trying to eat whole food, planted based, no oil. Thank you so much!!!
Jen J. October 12, 2019
It was Delicious! I added some vegetable broth at the end to thin out the sauce to my liking.
Nichole March 18, 2019
Thanks for posting this!
I made a version that used unsweetened cashew milk instead of cashews, tempeh in place of tofu out of convenience, and changed the oil to a small amount of canola oil and the result is delicious. It's even tasty as a cold dish, like a gazpacho...
Amy January 9, 2017
Just made this and it was amazing! This is my all time favorite Indian dish so am very psyched to find this vegan version! Delish. Thanks!!
Melanie S. May 5, 2016
This was so yummy! Great flavour. My husband loved it and he usually turns his nose up at vegan meals.
Nadine B. February 26, 2016
I made this today and used canned diced tomatoes, followed everything else exactly, oh, except I did use brown basmati, which of course, is somewhat different than white basmati. The canned tomatoes seemed somewhat overpowering to me although others were pretty happy with the results. I am anxious to try this "paneer" recipe with some in season, fresh tomatoes. I will definitely do this again!
Transcendancing February 24, 2016
I made this and it worked well, but I think 20 minutes was too long for my tofu (however my oven is having issues atm too). I really liked this and will definitely make it again - am sure that my result being soso is entirely me and not the recipe and in any case, everyone liked it anyway (but I still want to make it again and improve on my results!).
souptastic November 12, 2015
I really enjoyed this and it was a great excuse to use my brand new tofu press, which worked wonders. The pressed tofu took up the marinade completely in about 30 min at room temp and toasted up beautifully. I used two jalapeños as a substitute for the other peppers and it only needed a dash of salt as it was so flavorful. Was looking forward to leftovers but we ate it all! Also I blanched the spinach in the microwave for a minute and it worked great and saved the time to boil water.
Aly October 17, 2015
Is there something else you can recommend to substitute the nutritional yeast? Thanks!
MargaretB September 4, 2015
I thought I had a block of tofu at home but was mistaken, so I improvised and threw in chickpeas as my protein. It ended up fine, because the palak was so. so. good. Honestly the closest I've ever gotten to restaurant-quality palak at home. I used coconut milk, which I was kind of worried would come through too strongly, but it was very subtle and delicious. And frozen spinach worked just fine as well! What an easy, incredible recipe.
Sarah S. August 9, 2015
I made this last night, but with frozen spinach because it is what I had on hand and some turmeric and cayenne because I did not find it nearly spicy enough. Genius recipe!