Vegan saag paneer (spinach cheese curry) using cheese-like pickled tofu!
India by far has the largest percentage (and population) of vegetarians in the world, but most of them take dairy foods, so many of the vegetarian Indian dishes are actually not vegan. Saag paneer or spinach cheese curry is one of them and it happens to be one of my most favorite Indian dishes, so I wanted to try to make it vegan using homemade cheese-like pickled tofu!
Like any other Indian curry, saag paneer is made with a combination of various spices.
First, prepare spinach (500g or about 2 bunches) by steaming it or microwaving it on high for 2-3 min then put it in a blender with some water as needed to puree it.
Heat oil in a deep pan and fry cumin powder (1 tsp). Then add ground ginger (about 1-2 tsp) and garlic (about 1-2 tsp).
Add diced onions (1 medium) and sautée well.
Once the diced onions become transparent, add a mixture of coriander powder (1.5 Tbsp), tarmeric powder (1 tsp), garam masala (1 Tbsp) and cayen powder (1/4 tsp or less depending on how much heat you want in the curry). Stir well.
Add diced tomatoes (2 medium). Stir well.
Add pureed spinach. Stir well.
Add 100ml of water and 1 tsp of salt. Stir and cook for about 10 min.
Add cheese-like pickled tofu pieces and stir gently. Taste and add salt as needed.
For this saag paneer, I used pickled tofu using silken tofu but extra firm tofu would be closer in texture to paneer. Unlike paneer, cheese-like pickled tofu tastes a bit sour and works well to neutralize the spiciness (hotness) of the curry. You can serve this curry with rice or Indian bread (chapati, naan, etc.)!