Palak Tofu 'Paneer' - Tofu in Spinach curry. Vegan Glutenfree Recipe

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So finally I am adding a bit of Tofu to some meals. Still very very few meals, but trying to develop just a bit of acceptance to it. Hubbs likes Tofu, but I never have and never needed to really even eat it. There are always more options to cook up at home, but not necessarily when we eat out. Some of the upscale vegan restaurants also pretty much involve Tofu. There was a menu at a fancy fundraiser which was only Tofu and Seitan and both of which I am not fond of. I can eat them only if they are made really well with a good lot of flavors going on.

We started making Tofu scrambles once a week or rather hubbs started making some, since he always was the scramble expert. He is happy about putting on the chef hat for some morning breakfasts ;). The scrambles are usually amply spiced and herbed and cheesed :).

Any which way, lets get back to this Palak Tofu "Paneer". Palak is Spinach and Tofu acts as the spiced up Paneer. I used to love the creamy palak/saag paneer in my pre-gan days. Since vegan-izing it, I usually make it with Tempeh. With Tofu however it tastes even creamier. And the best part is it takes less than 15 minutes in the kitchen. Saute the Tofu, meanwhile blend up the spinach, add to Tofu and let cook while you clena up prep the flat bread or rice. Drizzle cashew cream and serve. Done. 
Another delicious Indian restaurant style curry, vegan-ized and somewhat healthy-fied.:)

You can make it soy-free with potatoes and/or cauliflower, or chickpea Tofu. Serve with flat breads, or top a bowl of quinoa or brown rice, or make sandwiches or top a pizza!

I am scrambling to make a simple e-book with Indian sweets and Desserts for Diwali. There are some amazing new recipes and some tried and tested and loved recipes from the blog in the book!
Here is a sneak peak of a recipe that will be in the book. Been working on these for the past year. Rasmalai is cheesy balls in Saffron flavored nutty cream. They are porous and you wont believe the amount of cream that can be squeezed out of each ball :)

I also substitute half of the greens with other leafies, like collard greens or mustard greens some days. This spinach gravy is a delicious to add greens to meals if you are not fond of green smoothies.

More restaurant style curries on the blog
Vegetable Jalfrezie - Veggies in tangyy smoky curry.
Tempeh Do Pyaaza - Tempeh in double onion curry
Dahl Makhani
Mango curry Tempeh - Sweet and Spicy mango curry
Tempeh Tikka Masala curry
Gobi Makhani - Creamy buttery curry


Saute the Tofu in a little oil for 2-3 minutes.

Add all the spices and mix and cook for 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, collect all the ingredients for the spinach curry and blend them.

The tofu is all seasoned up by now. 

Add the spinach puree, mix well and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Drizzle some cashew cream or coconut cream and serve hot. 

Palak Tofu "Paneer"- Tofu in Spinach curry
Allergen Information: Free of Dairy, egg, corn, gluten, yeast, grain. Can be made nut-free with coconut milk

Serves 2-4
Spiced Tofu:
2 teaspoons oil
half of a 14 oz firm tofu block (I use Nasoya firm tofu. 1.5-2 cups cubed tofu)
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a generous pinch of kala namak (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne(to taste)

Spinach curry:
2 cups packed Spinach, washed, chopped if large
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk or coconut milk
2 Tablespoons soaked cashews, soaked for 15 minutes or use ground raw cashew (less or more for creamy consistency to preference)
4 cloves of garlic
an inch cube of ginger
1 Serano chili pepper or to taste
1 medium tomato chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp salt to taste
1 teaspoon raw sugar or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon garam masala

cashew cream to serve

In a pan, add oil and heat on medium heat. Chop up the tofu and add to the oil. Mix to coat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add all the spices under Spiced Tofu and mix to coat. Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes, partially covered on low-medium heat.
Meanwhile, wash the spinach and add it and all the other ingredients under Spinach curry except garam masala to the blender. Blend into a smooth puree. Add the puree to the sizzling tofu. Mix well. Add garam masala to taste. Cook covered on low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the raw garlic smell is not detectable and desired gravy consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust salt and spice.
Drizzle some cashew cream and Serve hot with Naan, roti or other flat breads, or with quinoa or rice.

Notes: To make it nut-free, use coconut milk instead of almond milk and drizzle with coconut cream. You can also use Tempeh to make this. Cook the tempeh with oil for 3 minutes, then add spices under spiced tofu and a 1/2 cup water. Cook covered on low-medium, for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. To make soy-free, use potatoes and/or cauliflower, and follow steps under spiced tofu. Cook at low heat for 6-8 minutes, then add spinach puree. If you dont have garam masala spice blend, use curry powder, or use cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon powders and a bay leaf. 

This curry is being shared at Allergy free wednesdays, Ricki's wellness weekend


  1. Curry is one of those mysteries that I have yet to master. I know it's not complicated (as you show here), but I didn't exactly have a lot of exposure to curry growing up (in fact, my mom didn't like it so she never made *anything* with curry). This looks so delicious & simple!

  2. This looks amazing! Can't wait to try it.

  3. This looks amazing, Richa! I used to love saag paneer and I'll bet the tofu makes a great stand-in for the paneer, especially with all of those wonderful spices.

  4. Ooh thanks Richa, saag paneer is my favourite Indian food ever and I've been missing it now I don't eat dairy. Can't wait to make this!

  5. Thanks Richa! I have used tofu to replace paneer I just like the spinach finely chopped instead of all mashed up.

  6. I love tofu, but it definitely took me a while to warm up to it. This looks incredible!

  7. Oooh I would love to have the recipe for the Rasmalai :) have never had them because they´re not vegan, and I didn´t know to make them.

  8. Palak Paneer was always my favorite Indian dish in my Pre-gan days. I can't wait to try this super quick and delicious looking vegan version! Thank you!!!

  9. This looks so great, and so easy to make — the perfect dish to use up the last of my spinach! Can't wait to try it.

  10. I am so excited you veganized this, palak paneer used to be one of my favorite dishes- I am so making this for book club tonight!!!!

  11. i have still never cooked with tofu, but this looks creamy and delicious. also, i'm just reminded that your vegetable jafrezi has been on my to-make list for a while now. need to make that this weekend.

  12. Yummy. The color is wonderful and - well, I do like the chunks of tofu :-).

  13. It took me awhile to warm up to tofu, before I learned how to infuse/marinate/encrust it with yumful flavors. Searing it with a spicy sauce is always my simple favorite but I can't resist all the fabulous flavors you have in this recipe so I must try it. Many thanks!

  14. I am looking forward to your vwgan rasmalai recipe!

  15. I love tofu! But I'm super picky about the texture, so there are only certain varieties I'll eat. I've never had palak paneer, since I only really discovered Indian food since becoming vegan. Looking forward to trying your version!

  16. I about jumped out of my chair screaming when i read the ingredients. I can eat this! a curry recipe with no onion or tomato! HALLELUJAH.

    1. There is a tomato in there, but you can omit it or use roasted red pepper:)

  17. Do you have a garam masala blend you recommend, or do you make your own mix? This looks delicious!

    1. i buy mine from the Indian store. Any brand that is in whole spices and not already ground will do.

  18. Thanks for this wonderful recipe! My spinach-hating 10-year old requested it again this week. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you Carrie. So glad to hear about change! more power to spinach:)

  19. I really liked this version! It seemed to go a lot faster than when I usually make it - I tend to cook everything, then immersion blend the gravy. Thanks for this tip, and the tasty tasty recipe :)

  20. This was amazing! I doubled the recipe and my husband and I ate the whole dish in one sitting! Also perfect for the cold and flu season. Bookmarked! Thanks!

  21. Made this this weekend, fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Richa, your palak tofu looks really REALLY good. The palak tofu I made wasn't completely vegan as I had to use my remaining ghee so it wouldn't go to waste. Shall follow all of your recipe next time, hopefully soon! Glad I came across your blog.

    Here's what I did. Or tried to do :)

  23. hi richa thanks for this recipe.. i don't eat dairy products but i love paneer. I have one question can I replace paneer with tofu in Indian punjabi cooking in every recipe of paneer . plz reply

    1. Yes you can pretty use tofu in most recipes. Since tofu has a distinct taste and also slightly different texture, shallow frying it with some spices like n the recipes, or marinating it overnight in spices, helps make it a better sub in the dish.

  24. I made this tonight and it was fabulous! And super easy. I used Twin Oaks Extra Firm tofu and my omni husband couldn't tell it wasn't paneer!

    1. perfect. that is always music to my ears:)

  25. In my "pre-gan" days, I looooooved saag paneer! This dish is delicious! Even better than the original, even my kids love it! So easy to....I kind of don't want to let them know how easy it is :-)
    Keep 'em coming :-)

    1. awesome! it is one of my fallback recipes when in time crunch. delicious, easy and quick.

  26. In my "pre-gan" days I always thought the paneer was tofu anyway!! This was crazy easy and delicious, even my kids love it! I've already made this at least 4 times.....keep 'em coming :-)


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Hi! I am Richa. I love to whip up plant-based meals which make me and hubbs swoon and not miss any animal or animal products in them. Find out more About Me here.

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