Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese used a lot in North Indian food and often served with spinach (palak). I love spinach and this recipe is very spinachy so be warned if you are not as keen on it. Spinach is high in iron but needs to be cooked with other veg that contain vitamin c in order for the iron to be absorbed. In this recipe, tomatoes do that job. I replace the paneer with a mix of tempeh (as I had some left over) and tofu. To be honest, you cannot tell the difference once it has been cooked in the creamy, spicy, spinachy sauce.
For this dish, I used my own super quick method for making curries by blending most of the ingredients when raw to cut down on the chopping and cooking time. It works really well and I was able to make this curry in 20 minutes.
As always with a rich dish, I served it with something fresh. This time it was a spicy tomato salsa and a mixture of white and wild rice.
About 350g of firm tofu or tempeh or mixed
About 375g of fresh spinach washed well
Half a large onion
2 large ripe tomatoes
A teaspoon each of black peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds-dry fried and ground
Half a teaspoon of fennel seeds left whole
A teaspoon of garam masala
Two large cloves of garlic
A thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger
Four whole chillis or less if you don’t like it spicy
A teaspoon of sugar
A few toasted cashew nuts
Freshly chopped coriander
Salt to taste
Put the following in the blender, blitz to a liquid and remove -tomatoes, onion, chilli, ginger and garlic.Next place the spinach in the blender with a tablespoon of water and blitz.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wide, shallow pan and add the whole and ground spices. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato paste mixture and the spinach. It will be quite wet and will need to be reduced on a medium heat for about ten minutes. Then add the tofu or tempeh and sugar (this balances the sourness of the spinach but can be omitted if you like that taste) and continue to cook for another ten minutes until the sauce is thick and the tempeh or tofu have become greener and absorbed the sauce. Add salt to taste, a pinch of garam masala to freshen it up and a small handful of fresh coriander. Serve garnished with generous, toasted cashews to add texture and extra protein.