Palak Tofu: A Healthy Palak Paneer

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on January 29, 2015

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Palak Paneer is a classic North Indian dish. Walk into any Indian restaurant, and you’re almost guaranteed to see “Palak Paneer” or “Saag Paneer” on the menu.

It is traditionally a rich stew made with heavy cream, butter or ghee, paneer (which is a type of cheese used in Indian cooking), spinach, and tons of warm spices like cumin, turmeric, and coriander.

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It’s definitely an indulgent dish, since the heavy cream, butter and cheese are usually more prevalent in the dish than the spinach 🙂

I’ve gotten tons of requests for a healthier palak paneer recipe in the past, but I’ve never found a recipe that’s good enough to replace the original. This one might be the winner though!

It is full of spices, creamy and rich, but thanks to low fat milk, coconut oil for cooking, and tofu in place of paneer, it’s only about 200 calories for 1/4 of the ENTIRE recipe.

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Eat it with rice, naan, roti, or your favorite Indian side dish. It will leave you feeling satisfied – as if you had just walked out of a fancy Indian restaurant. It’s baby friendly too! I served it to Layla (minus the cayenne) and she gobbled it up!

The Ingredients

Adapted from Manjula’s Kitchen

  • 1 10 oz package of chopped frozen spinach or 4 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • Pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp of whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups 1% low fat milk
  • 1/2 tomato diced to garnish

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The Directions

Step 1: Dice your tofu into big cubes. Spray a large pan with olive oil cooking spray. Pan-fry the tofu on each side until it is firm and slightly browned.

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Step 2: Take the tofu out of the pan, place in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes and ginger until they come together in a smooth puree.

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Step 3: Combine the tomato mixture with the coriander powder, turmeric, cumin powder and cayenne (if you are making it for your kids – you can leave the cayenne out here and add it in at the end just for you!)

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Step 4: Mix the whole wheat flour with the milk and set aside.

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Step 5: Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if it cracks/pops right away it is ready. Add hing and cumin seed. After cumin seeds pop, add the tomato puree mixture, and let it cook for a few minutes until the tomato puree is about half in volume.

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Step 6: Add the spinach and salt. Let cook on low for about 10 minutes.

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Step 7: Add the milk mixture, and let cook on low another 4-5 minutes until everything is combined.

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Step 8: Add the tofu and fold it gently into the spinach mixture, let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve with diced tomatoes, roti, whole wheat tortillas, naan or rice.

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And that is it! A traditional Indian dish from scratch, start to finish, that you can feel great about eating. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Palak Tofu: A Healthy Palak Paneer

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 216.7

Fat per serving: 11.6g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 216.7 Calories, 11.6g Fat (2.1g Saturated), 350mg Sodium, 14.9g Carbs, 2.8g Fiber, 5.3g Sugar, 17.5g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 10 oz package of chopped frozen spinach or 4 cups of fresh finely chopped spinach
  • 1 package extra firm tofu
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1.5 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • Pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp of whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups 1% low fat milk
  • 1/2 tomato diced to garnish

Directions

  1. Dice your tofu into big cubes. Spray a large pan with olive oil cooking spray. Pan-fry the tofu on each side until it is firm and slightly browned.
  2. Take the tofu out of the pan, place in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes and ginger until they come together in a smooth puree.
  3. Combine the tomato mixture with the coriander powder, turmeric, cumin powder and cayenne (if you are making it for your kids - you can leave the cayenne out here and add it in at the end just for you!)
  4. Mix the whole wheat flour with the milk and set aside.
  5. Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if it cracks/pops right away it is ready. Add hing and cumin seed. After cumin seeds pop, add the tomato puree mixture, and let it cook for a few minutes until the tomato puree is about half in volume.
  6. Add the spinach and salt. Let cook on low for about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the milk mixture, and let cook on low another 4-5 minutes until everything is combined.
  8. Add the tofu and fold it gently into the spinach mixture, let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve with diced tomatoes, roti, whole wheat tortillas, naan or rice.

Notes

Adapted from Manjula's Kitchen

http://pickyeaterblog.com/palak-tofu-a-healthy-palak-paneer/

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Krista January 30, 2015 at 8:47 am

I recently tried Palak Paneer for the first time at an Indian restaurant, and I fell in love! But I’ve been hoping there’d be a way to make a good lightened up version. This is perfect! Totally making this for dinner tonight! Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 30, 2015 at 9:29 am

Oh awesome!! I know isn’t Palak Paneer the best? I can’t wait to hear how you like this recipe Krista!

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Tai February 1, 2015 at 3:40 am

I was wondering what to cook with tofu when you posted this recipe. Super tasty, healthy, and easy to prepare! This is now my favourite tofu recipe!! 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 1, 2015 at 9:16 am

Woohoo! So happy to hear that Tai!

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Ellen Twistol February 2, 2015 at 5:57 am

This sounds so good!! I have been trying to find new ways to eat tofu. My father hates it, but I am trying to eat less meat, this sounds soo good, I am definitely going to make this tonight, cant wait!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Thank you so much Ellen! I’m sure you will love this when you try it – keep me posted on how it goes!

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Scratch is Better February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am

Looks yummy. Love how you blend the tomato using a vitamix, creates a nice creamy texture.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 2, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Thanks! And yes – the texture of the spinach in this dish is super creamy and velvety – which I love!

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Sara G. February 8, 2015 at 9:06 am

I want to try this recipe & replace the milk with a plant based milk. Would you recommend coconut or almond milk? Thank you!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 8, 2015 at 8:29 pm

I’d definitely try coconut milk. Let me know how it turns out!

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kirsten burnett February 9, 2015 at 10:59 am

Thank you so much for sharing this absolutely delicious recipe. I am so glad that I came across your blog! I will surely be coming back for some more good recipes.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 10, 2015 at 8:01 pm

So glad you liked it! Thanks!

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DP February 9, 2015 at 8:02 pm

I just tried this recipe using frozen spinach tonight. It turned out a bit funny looking and then I looked backed to Manjula’s recipe and saw her suggestion about pureeing the spinach if you are using frozen spinach. I pureed only about 75% of the cooked mixture (tomato mixture, milk mixture, and spinach) to leave some texture in there before adding the tofu. It then turned out wonderfully. Thanks so much for alerting me to the recipe. Thanks also for the suggestion on how to serve it to a lo. My son is 16 months old. Keep up the good work!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 10, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Oh great! I’m so glad you liked this recipe and it turned out well! I did see that Manjula suggested pureeing the spinach – I chose not to because I like the chunkier texture. But pureeing the spinach is definitely the more traditional way to go. And yay for serving it to your little one too! 🙂 That’s awesome!

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David Sax February 10, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Thanks! I just listened to your interview with Howard Jacobson. Very cool. This recipe looks great. I was wondering the same thing as Sara G as I read through it. I look forward to giving it a try. Cheers!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 10, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Hi David! Thanks so much for stopping by – so glad you liked my interview! I can’t wait for you to try this recipe – and you’ll have to keep me posted on how the coconut milk turns out in it. Thanks again!

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Marie Alessandra February 11, 2015 at 8:44 am

That looks so delicious!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 11, 2015 at 9:46 am

Thanks Marie! I’m sure you will love it when you try it!

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Raja Makan February 11, 2015 at 6:04 pm

wow tofu ! i like tofu, maybe i must try this recipe for experiment with my favourite food tofu. Thank you Anjali.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 11, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Great! Let me know how you like it!

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Petra February 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm

I’m happy to see the healthier version of Palak Paneer! I eat only vegetarian but I always found this dish too indulgent-feeling. I love how all the elements work together with the basic spinach and since I’m really curious about the difference, seems like this is the new must-try of the next weekend! Oh, and I admire your food-photography skills! :)) Honestly, if I was cooking, the result never looked so amazing – and definitely not in the pictures! Glad to find inspiration here! 🙂

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 16, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Thanks so much Petra, I hope you love this recipe when you try it!

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Narcisa January 7, 2016 at 3:32 pm

What is hing? I’ve never heard of it. If I can’t find it in my local market can I successfully make this recipe without it?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 8, 2016 at 7:27 am

Hi Narcisa! Hing is an Indian spice — it’s used in most Indian recipes 🙂 It’s also called Asafoetida. You can buy it at any Indian grocery store or on Amazon here. But you can make this recipe without it — it just won’t have the same exact flavor as the authentic version (but it will still taste good!) Hope that helps!

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Shoumi April 24, 2016 at 10:35 am

Looks delicious, trying this out today! Thank you Anjali!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 25, 2016 at 10:27 am

Yay! I’m sure you will love this recipe Shoumi!

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