I can hardly believe that a few years ago I didn’t like Indian food. This was mostly because I didn’t like curry – which I also can hardly believe. Now I LOVE Indian food and curry. One of my favorite dishes is Palak Paneer, which is chunks of cheese (paneer) in a spinach sauce (palak).
Ordering Indian food on a regular basis isn’t exactly light on the wallet, so I’ve wanted to try my hand at making it, but a lot of the recipes seem a bit intimidating. This recipe looked fairly simple, and I was planning on taking advantage of the freezing weather and tackling some recipes I’ve been wanting to try, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this.
In this recipe I used tofu instead of paneer for a couple of reasons. Tofu is easier to find at the local grocery store and it’s probably a little healthier than cheese. I am planning on learning how to make my own paneer as it looks fairly easy, but that’s a post for a different day. I’ve heard it’s available to purchase at stores, but I don’t know a place in the cities that sells it (anyone who knows please tell me!)
I would say flavor and texture wise this turned out very similar to the dish we get from the local Indian place. I definitely will make this again when I try making homemade paneer. The tofu is about the exact same texture as the paneer, but it’s pretty flavor-less, so I missed the cheesiness of the paneer a little bit. Paneer doesn’t have a super strong flavor, so there wasn’t a big difference.
The flavors in this dish pack a punch due to all of the spices included in the recipe. I owned all of the spices except Garam Masala, which I couldn’t find at a regular, local grocery store. Whole Foods had it and I’m sure a place like Pensey’s Spices would carry as well. I served this with Naan the night I made this, and the next day we had the leftovers over basmati rice (this is how it’s normally served – I just was out of rice the first night – oops!). I think it was even better the second day!
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 chili pepper, minced (I used a serrano pepper and left the ribs and seeds in for medium spicy)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (I had a ginger paste)
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 14 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with garlic, drained
- 1 17 ounce bag frozen spinach
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cubed tofu
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion and chili pepper until soft.
- Add the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander, bay leaves, fresh ginger, and minced garlic. Saute everything together for 2-3 minutes to bring out the flavors. Add the fire roasted tomatoes and saute until everything is well mixed and the flavors are blending together, about 5-10 minutes.
- Thaw the spinach in a large bowl in the microwave. Press all the excess liquid out. Add the spinach and fresh cilantro to the skillet. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves. Use immersion blender to blend to desired consistency. Or if using a regular blender transfer the mixture to a blender. Pulse a few times until you get the desired consistency (smooth, but not pureed). Return the mixture to the skillet.)
- Stir in the yogurt and water. Add the salt and paneer; cover and simmer for 10 minutes to help the flavors continue to develop.
- Serve with basmati rice, naan or both:)