Vegan Saag Paneer
By Heidi Allison
Saag Paneer is that ubiquitous velvety, green, spinach-based vegetarian Indian dish that makes its way onto the menu of almost every Indian restaurant in the U.S. It is the most famous Indian vegetarian curry dish there is, and, people just can’t seem to get enough of it! The downside to this iconic dish is that it typically calls for full-fat cream, ghee (clarified butter) and homemade cheese. It’s a crave, but not the best dish for your heart or waistline. It’s also not vegan-friendly.
In this rendition, the dish has been lightened-up, without any compromise in taste or creamy texture! The cheese has been switched out for lightly fried, firm tofu, which takes on the flavor of the coconut oil and retains the texture of homemade Paneer...a clever trick! And, the heavy cream has been replaced with cashew milk, which gets that requisite creamy flavor and mouth feel, but at a fraction of the fat. A great dish for you and your Vegan friends alike.
Vegan Saag Paneer
1 pound Organic Spinach
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
¾ package of Firm Organic Tofu
; rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Yellow Onion
, peeled and thinly sliced
2 inch piece of Ginger
, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cloves Garlic
, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Roma Tomatoes
, peeled, seeds and cut into ¼ inch slices
1 Serrano Chile
, stem and seeds removed
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
½ teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 cup Cashew Milk
1 teaspoon Kosher Flake Salt, or to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add spinach. Mix with a wooden spoon and cook till wilted—about 2 minutes. Drain spinach and rinse with cool water; then place in a food processor. Pulse several times till chopped...about 5 times.
Add coconut oil to a large skillet and heat on medium heat until hot. Add tofu and cook till golden brown and a light crust is created; then turn over with tongs and brown the other side. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Wipe pan clean and add 2 Tablespoon of canola oil to the skillet and heat on medium heat till hot. Add cumin seeds and sauté till fragrant and light brown—about 1-2 minutes. Add onions, ginger, garlic, chile and tomatoes, and cook till soft—about 10 minutes. Add gram masala, turmeric and coriander and cook several minutes longer. Place in the food processor and pulse till puréed—about 2 times.
Return spinach mixture to skillet and add cashew milk and heat on medium-low until heated through.
Notes from the Chef
This dish keeps for 1 week. May add a few drops of fresh lemon at serving to “brighten it up”.