Palak tofu - Tofu in a healthy spinach gravy
What a satisfactory Sunday it was! Since my brother leaves for India tomorrow for his vacation, he was in a jolly good mood I must say. I woke up this morning to kesariya balam and more from his bollywood playlist. We spent a good part of our morning savoring an upma recipe I was experimenting with, and talking about Jeroen and my vacation ideas for our trip back to India later this year. We had initially planned to revisit Andamans this year, but due to lack of holidays, we shall postpone Andamans until the next year and go elsewhere this time. While a big part of me wants to go back to Rajasthan, but for variety's sake, we should go somewhere else - something for our dinner conversations for the next month or so!
Since yesterday I felt a little under the weather during the day, we missed the pre-55th birthday celebration of Jeroen's friend Adriana. Adriana and Jeroen sang together for about 7 years until recently when Jeroen decided to move to a different choir closer to our new home in Rotterdam. A few years ago Adriana completed a highly ambitious trip around India. She visited places known and unknown, experienced almost every possible form of commute that my country has to offer and came back with such good memories of her amazing experience. We felt that as her birthday present, we would gift her a spice box which would suffice for most of the common Indian recipes that she wants to replicate. This recipe is for her, and the spice box shall be guarded safely until we meet next!
I prepared palak tofu for dinner this evening. Tofu was unheard of when I stayed in India; we had paneer - the answer to all the culinary questions for a lazy day! My Mom calls it "cheating food" as it saves her the hassle of preparing veggies on a busy or warm day. Paneer was either freshly prepared at home, or store bought at any grocery store, or neighborhood bakery. Although I prefer my veggies to paneer, who can resist a good spoon of palak paneer or paneer butter masala? I don't usually get to see paneer in the shops in Netherlands, unless I specifically visit an Indian grocery store. Thus, I wanted to prepare this recipe with something more approachable - tofu. Tofu has a very different flavor when compared to paneer, so I prefer air/deep frying tofu cubes before they dive into my curry base. That usually helps smoothen the strong flavour of the ingredient. Also, what I love about this recipe is that it leaves you with a big batch of spinach stock - ideal for a soup for the next day!
We enjoyed our dinner tonight in our balcony since the weather was so amazing! We have a few more months of summer, and I can't wait to enjoy more of our balcony dinners. Time to prepare some chai and get ready for the week ahead. Happy new week everyone!
Time to cook: 30 minutes
- 600 gram Spinach leaves
- 1 red onion
- 1/2 inch ginger piece
- 300 gm tofu/paneer
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 1 star anise
- a few peppercorns
- 3-4 tsp fresh cream (can be substituted with coconut cream/cashew cream)
- Salt to taste
- 5 tbsp cooking oil
- 700ml Boiling water
- Blanch the spinach. I usually add about 700ml of boiling water to the spinach and let them soak for a minute or two, after which, I strain them and run under cold water. The warm water is something I like to preserve as a stock for soup or curries for the next day.
- Add about half of the spinach in a blender along with quartered onion, ginger, and all the spices (#5 - #8) and blend until they combine into a fine paste. Take the rest of the spinach and blend them separately.
- (Optional, but highly recommended for extra flavour!) Airfry/deep fry the tofu cubes and set aside. I used my airfryer to fry the cubes at 200 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan, and add the the first batch of onion & spinach paste to it with some salt and cook at high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the remainder of the spinach paste to the pan with the tofu and combine. Let that cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Finish with a few teaspoons of fresh cream and remove the pan off the heat.
- Enjoy with some steamed rice or fresh chapatis.