Palak Paneer is one of my favourite Indian dishes. Spicy, flavourful spinach, with chunks of deliciously creamy paneer cheese. The best dish of it I've ever had was at a small Indian restaurant near where I used to live in England (if you happen to live in Norfolk, it's Rose of India in Attleborough). Living in Japan, I though it would be fairly unobtainable. All cheese is expensive here, and I knew we'd never find paneer anywhere. Luckily, there is an alternative, all be it a bizarre one. While looking for something completely different, I came across this recipe, which suggests substituting tofu for paneer cheese. My initial reaction was one of incredulity, but I found a few other recipes that suggest the same and so I decided to try it. The results were surprisingly good. It wasn't perfect, but it'll do as a substitute! And since it's healthier, cheaper and vegetarian (easily made vegan), I think it'll stay as a regular even once I'm back home.
This recipe is an combination of a few I found online, with a few tweaks. It makes enough for 2 people, if you make another curry dish of some sort too.
This might look like a long list of ingredients, but if you don't have something, just miss it or substitute it. The only essentials here are tofu and spinach.
½ pack firm tofu
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp tumeric
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh ginger
1tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp tumeric
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala (or extra curry powder)
½ tsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)
½ or less salt
1 pack spinach
1½ tbsp grated cheese
1. Drain the tofu, either by putting it on kitchen towel on a plate and microwaving it for a minute or so, then wiping off OR wrap in a clean tea towel and put something heavy on top and leave it for 30 mins or so.
2. Mix marinade ingredients together. Cut tofu into bite sized pieces and marinate for about 30 mins.
3. Mix "extra cheesiness" ingredients together in a bowl.
4. Heat up a non-stick pan. Fry tofu a few pieces at a time, until they start getting golden. Set aside.
5. Chop onion, garlic and ginger. Heat a little oil in a pan. Fry onions until soft then add garlic and ginger and all the spices. Fry for a few minutes then add the spinach. Cook until the spinach has wilted.
6. Blend/Food process this mixture until fairly smooth. Re-add to pan.
7. Add the tofu and gently combine. Add the "extra cheesiness" and mix well but gently.