One of my favorite vegetarian dishes at our local Indian buffet is Palak Paneer. There is something miraculous in heaping a dark green mushy dish on your plate, chock full of spinach, and having it taste so delicious that you keep going back for more. When I hear people say that they don’t like vegetables, I always think of Palak Paneer – who doesn’t love that?! (At some restaurants, you can get basically the same dish called Saag Paneer, the only difference being the type of greens used. Saag can include spinach and mustard greens as well as other leafy greens, where as Palak means spinach specifically.)
Unfortunately, when you are eating a vegan diet, palak paneer is off your plate as it contains ghee, cream, and of course, paneer cheese. Well, thanks to the lovely Dreena Burton, vegans can enjoy all the flavor of this dish without any of the dairy products. She has named it “Palak Soyabina Panira” — as in, Palak with soy cheese, or, more aptly, tofu. Interestingly enough, the method for making tofu out of soy milk is remarkably similar to the method for making cheese out of cow’s milk.
This dish was amazing. I used an entire 1-pound carton of baby spinach (the Costco size) and our family of 5 devoured it, leaving only a tiny portion for leftovers. Even our 5 year old took seconds! Granted, it helped that I served it over white rice, his favorite food in the world. Just thinking about our family ingesting that large quantity of spinach tickles me to my toes. All that iron, calcium, lutein, and beta carotene…woo hoo!
I served this with a simple cucumber and tomato salad with cilantro, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, and a little bit of salt, pepper, and curry powder. It provided a wonderful cooling element to our meal, though next time I’ll add some chopped onions for more flavor.
If you would like to get this recipe (plus many more fantastic, family-friendly vegan recipes), check out Eat, Drink, and be Vegan, by Dreena Burton. You’re sure to find something that you like!