A non-traditional, but completely delicious palak paneer using fresh spring spinach from our CSA and fried tofu instead of paneer. This dish is rich with onions and tomatoes and is wonderful on just about anything, including straight out of the pot! —Tanvi | The Hathi Cooks
14 oz block of firm tofu
Canola oil, as need to shallow fry
medium yellow onions, diced
roma tomatoes, diced
spinach leaves, cleaned and coarsely chopped
finely minced jalapeno or serrano chilis
jowar (sorghum) flour, or all purpose flour
Cut tofu into rough 1inch x 1 inch x 0.5 inch pieces. Line a baking sheet or a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Place the tofu in a single layer on top. Put an additional double layer of paper towels on top of the tofu. Place a baking sheet or plate on top and weigh down with some cans. Allow the liquid to be squeezed out for about 20 minutes, and change the paper towels once half way through.
Once the tofu has been well drained, heat a large cast iron skillet with about 1/2-1 inch of neutral frying oil over medium high heat. Check periodically by holding a piece of tofu in tongs and lowering the corner into the oil. If it starts to sizzle, the oil is ready.
Carefully place the tofu pieces in a single layer in the oil. You will likely need to do this in batches. When the bottom side is golden brown, flip over and cook the other side until golden brown. Transfer using a spider strainer or heat proof slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and allow the oil to drain. Fry the remaining tofu in the same fashion. Set aside until ready to incorporate into the spinach.
Heat the 2 Tbsp of oil over medium high heat in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. When the oil shimmers, add the cumin. Allow to cook until aromatic and just barely darkened in color. Add the diced onion, and stir well. Keep cooking and stirring regularly until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. You want them to be rich and sweet, but not quite caramelized. Also, don't allow them to burn at all.
Once the onions are golden brown, add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the salt, tomato paste, chilis, ginger, and garlic and cook down until the tomatoes have fully broken down, and oil starts to separate from the mixture, about 3-5 minute. The oil will appear as a golden sheen on the bottom of the saucepan. Add the jowar or all purpose flour and cook stirring frequently for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the coarsely chopped spinach, and stir well to coat with the onion and tomato spice blend. Cook until it wilts and turns a darker shade of green. Add the milk, water, and butter, and allow to heat, but not simmer about 2 minutes. Using an immersion blender, coarsely blend the spinach together. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Add the fried tofu and stir to fully coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning again, as adding the tofu may mean adding a bit more salt. Serve and enjoy!