Easy Palak Tofu Recipe

While palak paneer is usually known for cubes of paneer cheese, this plant-based tofu version is the same dish you love with a vegan twist. One of the best parts about Indian food, besides all of the incredible flavors, is the simplicity of creating authentic dishes that are already suitable for vegetarians without making any substitutions. It is extremely common to be vegetarian in India due to religious practices found in Hinduism. Not everything is vegan, but many traditional dishes such as palak — a thick paste made from puréed spinach — are easy to make vegan by substituting a dairy-free alternative such as coconut milk for milk or tofu for cheese. 

"I love this dish because it uses a ton of spinach and I am a huge fan of using greens at every meal," says recipe developer Miriam Hahn of YouCare-Selfcare. Hahn has dedicated her life to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and is all about incorporating plant-based recipes into her diet. You won't miss the meat in this palak, as the delicious spices bring this dish to life.

Gather your ingredients

For your palak tofu, you'll need a block of extra-firm tofu (about 12 ounces). You'll also need a (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, fresh spinach, half a cup of coconut milk, and 2 ½ teaspoons of oil, divided. 

Palak is nothing without its incredible array of spices, so you'll want to make sure that your pantry is stocked with all of the basics. Gather salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili flakes, garlic powder, ginger powder, chili powder, and cumin. Something that might not already be in your pantry is garam masala. You only need half a teaspoon, but it's essential for bringing all of these flavors together.

Press your tofu

The first thing you'll need to do is take your tofu out of its packaging and drain the water. Next, grab a tofu press and use it to remove any additional water. "It's important to press the tofu because it is packed in water and the excess water will make the tofu soggy," Hahn says. If you don't have a tofu press, however, Hahn recommends placing your tofu in a shallow bowl or dish lined with paper towel or a dish towel, then placing a flat plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy like a cast-iron skillet for about 20 minutes.

Making the palak base

While your tofu is pressing, it's time to mix your spices. Combine the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and chili flakes in one bowl and keep it aside for your tofu. 

In a separate bowl, mix the garlic powder, ginger powder, chili powder, cumin, and garam masala. This will be your spice mix for the tomatoes and spinach. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a large stockpot and add the tomatoes and spices and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes. After that, add the spinach and stir for 2 minutes until it's wilted. Lastly, you'll want to add in your coconut milk and blend with an immersion blender right in the pot, or use an upright blender.

Brown your tofu and add it to the palak sauce

Once your tofu is done pressing, chop it into cubes and place it in a bowl with ½ teaspoon of oil, and your tofu spice mix from earlier. Toss everything together and heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in a pan on the stove. Add the tofu and cook it for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown on all sides. 

Lastly, add your cooked tofu to the pot with your palak spinach creation. That's it!

"This dish is great on its own," Hahn says, "but I usually serve it with rice and pita bread." Naan would also be a good call. 

Easy Palak Tofu Recipe
4.9 from 24 ratings
While palak paneer is usually known for cubes of cheese, this plant-based version is the same dish you love with a vegan twist. Try this easy palak tofu recipe!
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
20
minutes
Servings
3
Servings
Palak tofu with pita bread
Total time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 (12-ounce) block extra-firm tofu
  • 2 ½ teaspoons oil, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 packed cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup coconut milk
Optional Ingredients
  • Pita bread or naan, for serving
  • Rice, for serving
Directions
  1. Take the tofu block out of the package and discard the water that it is packed in.
  2. Press the tofu by using a tofu press or placing the block in a shallow bowl lined with paper towel or kitchen towel and placing a flat plate on top.
  3. Weigh the plate down with something heavy and let the tofu sit for 20 minutes.
  4. Pour out any water collected in the bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and chili flakes in a small bowl and set them aside for the tofu.
  6. In a separate small bowl, combine the garlic powder, ginger powder, chili powder, cumin, and garam masala for the tomatoes.
  7. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large stockpot. Add the tomatoes, garlic powder, ginger, chili, cumin, and garam masala and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  8. Add the spinach and stir for 2 minutes until it is wilted.
  9. Add the coconut milk and blend the sauce either with an immersion blender or upright blender. Keep this warm on the stove.
  10. Chop your pressed tofu into cubes. Place it in a bowl, add ½ teaspoon of oil, and toss with the tofu spice mix.
  11. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil on medium heat. Add the tofu and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it browns on all sides.
  12. Add the cooked tofu to the spinach and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 218
Total Fat 17.1 g
Saturated Fat 8.5 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.5 g
Dietary Fiber 4.3 g
Total Sugars 4.2 g
Sodium 149.0 mg
Protein 11.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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