To all the palak paneer lovers, this dish might be a pleasant surprise! I love paneer and a lip smacking palak paneer for sure. Every bite of this home-made dish sort of has a calming effect on you!! This palak curry is inspired by mom’s palak paneer, which I attempted several times with disappointment. One time there was too much onion, another time too much tomato and other times God knows what. Seriously, for a while, I did not even bother to make it. Yesterday, for some reason, I just got the courage to try it one more time. I went by my instincts to get the proportions in order and followed her steps without slacking. And yes!! I was super happy with the outcome, which is good- it means I will be happier taking photos even in low light with whatever gear I have. I wanted to try it with tofu. But tofu by itself is quite bland and so I thought of turning it into a pakora, the Indian fritter. Sometimes, I feel pakora might be an easy solution to making anything you don’t like into something you will enjoy~ :)) Of course, you guessed it – I wasn’t going to deep fry – use of too much oil and smoke in the house….and then you are left with oil that you shouldn’t really use again…. na-a. So yeah, pan-frying it is! The pakoras turned out quite good and I ended up eating quite a bit while photographing. And it wasn’t even lunch time…:O
Now, a few seconds for learning…
Know your nutrients: Tofu not only adds variety to the usual palak paneer dish, but it also incorporates some more Iron. Spinach is rich in iron and the tomatoes in the dish provide some vitamin C that can promote its absorption. Ideally, serve this dish with a fresh tomato side salad as well or serve a citrus fruit for dessert. These tips are especially useful for vegetarians, who may have difficulty consuming sufficient amounts of iron. Paneer is quite rich in Calcium and may inhibit the absorption of iron in the spinach, which also contains some calcium, folate and beta carotene. So, try alternating between your favorite palak paneer and palak with tofu pakoras 🙂 to get your calcium as well as iron.
Palak curry: 68 cals | 3 g protein | 2 g fiber | 5 g total fat | Good source of Iron, Vitamin A, C, Folate
Tofu Pakoras: 95 cals | 6 g protein | 1 g fiber | 6 g total fat | Good source of Iron
Ingredients (6 servings):
For Palak Curry:
5 cups of chopped spinach, tightly packed
1/2 onion, diced*
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1″ ginger piece, diced
1 large clove of garlic, diced
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp kasuri methi
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
* 1/2 medium yellow onion in US= 1 medium red onion in India
For Tofu Pakora (2 per serving):
12 slices of firm tofu, 1 cm thick X 2″ wide
1/2 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili powder
salt to taste
1.5 tbsp oil for pan frying
- For the palak curry, heat oil in a non-stick pan and then add the diced onion. Allow it to caramelize on medium heat. In the meantime, wash and chop your spinach and tomatoes. Chop the ginger and garlic.
- Once the onions turn medium brown, add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic and the dry powders and saute on medium heat for a minute or two.
- When the tomatoes have softened add the spinach and mix well. Cover the pan and let the spinach cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.
- Cut the tofu slices and prepare the chickpea flour batter. In order to avoid a lumpy batter, add water slowly and beat it well into a smooth paste. Then add the remaining dry powders.
- Heat oil for the pakoras in a large non-stick pan. If you are using a small pan, use oil according for each batch you make, not exceeding 1.5 – 2 tbsp of oil for whole batch. Dip each slice of tofu in the batter, coat it well and transfer to the pan. Flip the pakoras when one side is done.
- By now, the spinach will be cooked. Allow the spinach to cool down a bit and then blenderize it to make a smooth, homogeneous puree. Add 1/2 to 1 cup water gradually. From my previous attempts I have realized that the taste isn’t as great if the puree is not homogeneous. Heat it up again in the same pan that you used for cooking the spinach and serve with hot pakoras. Add some ghee for your kids. Enjoy with warm phulkas and a side salad.