The Indian food saga continues with a fabulous and healthy dish: Saag Paneer! Traditionally, this is made with the Indian soft cheese, paneer, but the dairy can easily be substituted with tofu. I used firm tofu since that's what I had, but I'm betting soft would give an even more "real" texture closer to the traditional cheese cubes. "Saag" is the Indian word for greens, here I used collard and mustard greens, but you can use any greens you like and it would still be delicious!
I've adapted this recipe from the HUGE and amazing cookbook, 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer (probably should've added a sixth recipe. just sayin). This book is packed full of all sorts of curries, especially vegetables and legumes, as well as appetizers, rice, breads, drinks and desserts. All of the meat and dairy dishes can easily be made vegan, too! I have it checked out from the library, but I think this might need to be on my "to-buy" list now! Saag Tofu "Paneer"
adapted from 660 Curries and various internet sites
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large red onion, thinly-sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3" fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cardamom pods, ground (or 1/4 tsp)
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup warm water
3-4 bay leaves
2 Thai chilis, minced (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
2 bunches greens, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 lb tofu, pan-fried
1/2 cup vegan creamer or coconut cream
1/2 tsp garam masala (homemade or store-bought)
Heat oil in a large wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook 5 minutes, until the onions have softened and are golden brown. Remove from heat and add spices turmeric through cardamom to the onion mixture and stir to coat the onion mixture. Place in a blender along with the tomato paste and 1/ 4 cup water. Pulse to form a thick paste. Add puree back to the pan. Rinse the blender out with the 3/4 cup water to get all the spices out, and add the rinse water to the pan as well. Return skillet to stove over medium heat, and add bay leaves, chilis, and greens; stir well to combine. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Let greens cook 5-10 minutes until slightly wilted. Stir in salt, tofu, "cream" and garam masala. Let simmer 2-3 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve.
Serve with rice, chutneys, pickle and roti or naan.
I served mine with brown basmati rice and Makkai Ki Roti, a cornmeal-based roti bread. It's so good!! The bitter greens and creamy sauce go perfectly with the sweetness of corn and chewiness of roti bread! That recipe is also in 660 Curries. It's seriously a must-have!