Monday, July 13, 2009

Palak Paneer? No! Its Palak-Tofu...!!!


Since my last post, there have been some requests to post healthy recipes. So here it comes. Its a paneer-less version of palak paneer. Instead of fat filled Paneer, I used Tofu. For those who are not very familiar to tofu - Tofu is a soy bean extract, packed with protiens. It is very commonly used in Thai cuisine. Looks like paneer, tastes like paneer, only a much much healthier substitute. More on Tofu -

Serves 4

2 bunches of spinach (palak) coarsely cut. (You can just tear off the leaves into smaller pieces since we will be anyways grating the spinach later)
1 onion, fine chopped
1 tomato, fine chopped
an inch of ginger, fine chopped
2 green chillies (add more depending on level of spice)
salt to taste
1 medium block of extra firm tofu
Oil to fry
2 spoons Garam Masala

For base:
1. In a wok( kadhai ), fry ginger and onions till golden brown.
2. Grind chillies into fine paste and add to oil.
3. Add tomatoes and stir into paste.
4. Add Garam masala and salt and cover the gravy for 5 minutes.

For Palak:
1. Boil water in a vessel and put the cut spinach. Cover it with a lid and let is steam in for 5 minutes.
2. Take out the spinach and dip it in cold water immediately and leave it immersed for couple of minutes. This helps preserve the green color of the spinach.
3. Take out the spinach and grind it in mixer to fine paste.

For Tofu:
A thing to remember is - unlike paneer, tofu is very delicate to handle and is full of moisture. There is a technique to fry tofu. I usually buy extra-firm tofu, since its easy to cut in cubes.
So here is how you fry tofu:
1. Wrap the big block of tofu with a clean, fine cotton cloth or a tissue paper. The key is to remove moisture tofu as much as you can. Handle it carefully without smashing it.
2. Cut tofu in small cubes - may be about an inch in size.
3. Remove more moisture from the cubes if required.
4. Heat oil in a flat sauce pan.
5. Put few cubes in the oil and leave them till a thin golden layer is seen. Flip over the cube and repeat the process till whole cube changes color to light golden. Do not keep flipping over the pieces since they are very delicate and will get smashed.
1. On medium heat, add palak paste into the base gravy and mix well.
2. Adjust the salt and spice.
3. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
4. Add fried tofu to the gravy, cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve hot.
1. Switching palak from hot water to cold water preserves the fresh green color and prevents the palak to turn into darker shade after cooking.
2. All the water (hot and cold) used as a base for any other recipe - like vegetable soup, may be in dal. Its really nutritious and should not be trashed.
3. Substitute red chillies for green. Fry red chillies separately and grind into paste before adding to oil. It brings out the flavor.
4. If you want really smooth gravy, after tomatoes are cooked, wait till the gravy is cold and then grind it.

Try this dish and let me know. Tofu is a really great substitute for paneer. If you like, you can add tofu almost anywhere instead of paneer. Let me know, I will post some more tofu/paneer recipes.

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