Methi Malai Paneer made vegan with Tofu and Cashews. Tofu and Fenugreek/Greens in Creamy Sauce. Easy Weeknight Restaurant style Indian entree. Serve over Naan or rice. Vegan Gluten-free Recipe. Soy-free Nut-free option.
Methi Malai Matar (Fenugreek/Greens and peas in creamy white sauce), Methi malai paneer (fenugreek and Paneer cheese cubes in creamy sauce) are some Mughlai dishes you might find in some Indian restaurants. The dishes use malai or dairy cream and cheese or other dairy ingredients. Its like a spiced up Spinach dip, with lots of complex flavor!
But this version is free of all that, tastes amazing, and comes together quickly as well. Fresh fenugreek leaves are a favorite to use in the dish when in season. If you find some then definitely use them fresh, else use dried fenugreek with greens of choice. Serve with hot garlic Naan or rice/grains or make a bowl with roasted veggies, add to wraps or on a pizza!.
Dried fenugreek (kasuri methi) is available in Indian stores and online on amazon. Definitely get some, as I use it in many recipes, so it will not just get stored and expire :). Fenugreek has an amazing flavor profile, bitter but pleasing. You can use ground mustard + celery seed as a substitute when used in small quantities.
Use Chickpea tofu or chickpeas +veggies to make this soy-free. You can also use vegan almond paneer from my book or Kite hill Original Almond cheese. Add them to the sauce directly without the baking steps. To make this nut-free, use non dairy yogurt or silken tofu.
Tofu is baked with garam masala and nutritonal yeast. You can also add pressed fresh tofu directly for shorter cook time. The sauce is a simple onion cashew tomato sauce with greens and fenugreek leaves. For variations make this Greens/Chard and Peas in Creamy Sauce. We were cooking up greens and peas in creamy sauce every 2-3 days when my family was visiting. It was clearly a favorite.
More Restaurant Style dishes from the blog
- Indian Butter Tofu. GF
- Bombay Potato and Peas
- Tofu Pasanda
- Tofu in Spinach Curry – Saag Tofu
- Vegetable Jalfrezi – Veggies in smoky tangy curry
- Gobi Broccoli Makhani
- Tempeh Tikka Masala with Kale
Like this recipe? Then there are 20 more options in my Indian Kitchen book. Fenugreek leaves are the only ingredient in this recipe that needs to be either ordered online or picked up from an Indian store. To sub use 1/3 tsp powdered fenugreek (fenugreek seed powder), or 1/4 tsp ground mustard + 1/8 tsp celery seed. Whats your favorite Indian meal this month?
Troubleshoot Indian recipes in my book or the blog: Most of the time the recipes are just perfect for most people, while for some it seems like there isnt enough spice/flavor. If so, you might need to adjust the following.
Add more salt, as the right salt immediately brings out the spices and complex flavors.
Add more of the spices, if the spices are old, their payoff is pretty less, or maybe you are just accustomed to eating a higher amount of spices in Indian food. Everyday Indian cooking isn’t always full of spices, and every dish does not have a flavor payoff that goes Pow. But it is understandable that if someone is cooking Indian food only occasionally, then the expectation is for more. So taste and adjust to preference.
Add more oil, as oil carries the spices faster into the dish. It is often about what one is accustomed to. Depending on whose recipes you cook from (Indian cooks living in India, Indian origin chefs outside India etc), food might generally have higher salt, oil and spice amounts. My mom generally adds more salt to some of my dishes. These recipes here are pretty solid to use as a base and then you can play around and make them your own. Thats the amazing part of Indian cooking. Get some basics right, then everything falls well together.
Lets get to making this fabulous dish.
Methi Malai "Paneer" Tofu - Tofu and Greens in Creamy Sauce
Methi Malai Sauce:
- 1 tsp oil
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) cumin seeds
- 2 cloves
- 2 inch cinnamon stick or add a heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon later with the garam masala
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped
- 1 hot green chile chopped
- 1/3 cup (87.33 g) tomato puree or puree 1/2 heaping cup chopped tomato with a tbsp of water
- 1/4 cup (32.25 g) raw cashews soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
- 1 cup (250 ml) water or non dairy milk
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) garam masala
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) turmeric
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) or more cayenne
- 1 cup (236.59 g) fresh Fenugreek methi leaves, just the leaves washed and drained, or 2 cups chopped greens + 2 to 3 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 3/4 tsp (0.75 tsp) salt or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) sugar or more to taste
- Press the tofu for 10 minutes to remove excess moisture, then cube into small even pieces.
- Toss pressed tofu in oil. Mix the spices and starch and a small bowl, then add to tofu. Toss untill well coated. Bake on parchment lined sheet or greased baking dish at 400 degrees F / 200ºc for 15 to 20 minutes
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot add cumin, cloves and cinnamon and let them cook until cumin seeds change color.
- Add onion, garlic, ginger and chile and cook until translucent. Add pureed tomato and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, blend the cashews with water until smooth (or use premade cashew cream and add some non dairy milk). Or blend 1/4 cup silken tofu or non dairy yogurt + 1 tbsp flour with non dairy milk. Too many options 🙂
- Add the ground spices, greens and fenugreek leaves, salt and sugar and mix well. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the greens are wilting. Add cashew milk to the pan. Bring to a boil. Taste and adjust salt, heat, spice and sweet. Add more non dairy milk if too thick.
- Add in the baked tofu and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Serve hot with Naan or rice or make an Indian Bowl with chutney or pickled onion, cooked grains, garam masala roasted veggies.