Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saag (Tofu) Paneer

Before I was vegan, saag paneer was a frequent go-to option when eating Indian: it's delicious, nutritious, and can generally be found even at those silly buffets designed for people afraid to peruse the menu. My animal-free version uses pressed, seasoned tofu for the cheese and coconut milk for cream, with what I must admit are spectacular results. This dish pairs nicely with a tomato-chickpea curry, but with all that tofu and spinach, it could easily be a meal on its own with some rice and/or naan bread and hot pickle.

Saag (Tofu) Paneer
The "Paneer"
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed (tofu that's been frozen & thawed works particularly well here)
~ 2 tbsp. each: good curry powder, nutritional yeast
~ 1/2 tsp. salt
~ Oil for frying

~ Combine the salt, curry powder, and nooch, and sprinkle over the tofu cubes. Shake the tofu around a bit to make sure all the cubes are thoroughly coated (I do this in a plastic bowl with a cover).
~ Heat about an inch of canola oil in in a deep skillet over medium high heat.
~ When the oil is hot enough that a piece of tofu dropped into it floats to the surface, add half the cubes, fry for about 2 minutes on each side, and remove with a slotted spatula to drain on paper towels. Set aside any extra coating mixture.
~ Fry and drain the second batch, and then set the tofu aside while you make the saag.
*** Please note that if you'd rather not fry the tofu, you can bake it instead! Simply toss the tofu cubes with the nooch, curry powder, and salt as above, then coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place in a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes. Arrange the coated tofu cubes on the heated cookie sheet, spritz with another hit of cooking spray, and bake for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice during the process.

The Saag
~ 1 tbsp. coconut oil
~ 1 medium yellow onion, diced
~ 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
~ 1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, coriander, garam masala, fenugreek
~ 1/2 tsp. each: asafoetida, turmeric, cayenne pepper
~ 1 lb. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and un-drained
~ 1 14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
~ Leftover tofu coating (if any)

~ In a deep skillet or wok, melt the coconut oil and saute the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until golden but not browned.
~ Add the garlic and ginger and cook about 2 minutes more.
~ Stir in the tomatoes and seasonings, then reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer 7 to 8 minutes or until a thin film of oil starts to form on the surface.
~ Add the undrained spinach, cover and simmer another 10 minutes.
~ Stir in the cubed, fried tofu, then replace the cover and simmer about 5 minutes more, giving it the occasional gentle stir.
~ Add the coconut milk and the leftover tofu coating, combine thoroughly, and cook another few minutes to be sure the mixture is piping hot.
~ Serve with rice and/or naan bread and prepare to swoon.


  1. This sounds and looks amazing! I'm making this tonight.
    Thanks for the recipe

  2. I made this. It is AMAZING! I used fresh spinach and just a regular tin of tomatoes and added a wee bit of juice from the tinned tomatoes to compensate for the lack of liquid produced from the frozen spinach. I am going to make this again and again!
    LOVE IT!

  3. Made it! Was DELISH! Needed a little honey and used half a jar of Korma by Seeds of Change. Will definitely make this again!

  4. I made this and it was delicious. This is going to become my go-to recipe for saag.

  5. thank you so much for this recipe!
    will be trying it after i buy some coconut milk
    sounds delish!