Food

Easy Vegan Saag Paneer

As promised, here is the vegan saag paneer recipe to accompany the tarka dal recipe from last week to tide you over to the next policy post. They of course by no means must be made together but I find that they complement each other well, especially if you make your dal rather spicy. This isn’t an “authentic” recipe but it was mother-approved, so take that as you will.

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks extra-firm tofu (350-450g) pressed, drained, and cut into small cubes (about 45 per block)
  • 2 tsp salt OR 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3/4 large onion OR 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cm ginger, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped (optional)
  • 250-300g (6-7 cups) leafy greens (e.g. spinach, kale, mustard greens, chard, etc.) any fibrous stems removed and saved for a stir-fry
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 200ml oat cream or other non-dairy heavy cream substitute (coconut is not recommended)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Toss the tofu cubes with the salt, cornstarch, and oil and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until good and crispy.
  2. OPTIONAL STEP: Get a pot of water boiling. Blanch the greens until they’re brightly coloured and wilted. Keep an eye on them, especially if they’re more tender greens. Once they’re done, transfer them to an ice bath and set aside. IF YOU CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO BLANCH, just add the greens to the saucepan (see next steps). This step is really just for keeping the colour in the greens.
  3. Set a saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil then, once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and ginger. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the spices next and fry until the mixture is aromatic. Next, add in the tomato and green chilies. Cook until the mixture is more paste-like.
  4. IF YOU SKIPPED THE BLANCHING STEP, add the greens in here. Cook until all the leaves are wilted down. You may need to do this in batches.
  5. Add the fresh coriander and oat cream/non-dairy cream substitute. Bring the mixture very briefly to a boil then remove from the heat.
  6. Blend the mixture. You can either do this in a blender (after it cools!) or just with a stick blender.
  7. Put the mixture back on low heat in the saucepan. Add the baked tofu cubes, optional frozen peas, and salt to taste. Let simmer at least five minutes or until desired consistency. If the mixture looks too thick, add some water or more oat cream. If it looks too thin, simmer it for longer.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve with rice and/or chapati, some kind of Indian pickle, and, if you like, the winter tarka dal.

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