This is a relatively mild Indian dish, made with loads of lovely spinach. It can be made vegan using tofu, or non-vegan using paneer cheese (For a simple recipe for homemade paneer, see the end of my paneer tikka masala post). I made some changes to the original book recipe to simplify it.
The book: Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness
Description: This book is, as the title suggests, a guide to cooking Indian food in your home kitchen, and specifically in an Western kitchen. This means that while there is some use of specialty ingredients, often the book will offer alternatives or simply supply a simplified version of a recipe that makes it easier to cook at home. It works really well if you are living in the UK, or in a fairly large American city with access to places like Whole Foods or other retailers that will carry Indian spices and the like. It can require a bit more creativity to make it work if you live somewhere where such items are more difficult to locate.
Genre: Indian food
Veg Status: The book is by no means exclusively vegetarian, and it has large sections dedicated to meat and fish. However, because Indian food is very vegetarian friendly, this book has lots of vegetarian and vegan recipes. Moreover, most of the meat recipes can be easily converted to vegetarian or vegan by substituting tofu, paneer, or cooked chickpeas for the meat.
GF Status: Indian food is very GF friendly. While there are some breads and pastries that would be difficult to convert to GF, some Indian classics are GF by virtue of using chickpea flour or lentil flour instead of when flour. And of course the vast majority of the recipes for curries and the like are naturally gluten free. In other words, you will be able to find enough GF recipes for your heart's content in this book.
Ingredients (for 2 large portions or four small ones):
- 1 package (about 300 grams) firm tofu or paneer, sliced into cubes
- about 500 grams/ 1 lb fresh spinach or frozen spinach
- 1.5-2 tablespoon ghee, butter or oil
- 3 whole dried chilis
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 7 green cardamom pods
- 7 whole cloves
- 3/4 teaspoon fennel
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated ginger
-1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil to a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add as many cubes of paneer/tofu as will fit comfortable and brown them on all sides. Drain the tofu/paneer on paper towels and continue until all of the tofu/paneer is browned, adding more oil as needed. (I needed only one batch). Set aside.
2. Boil about 2 inches/5 cm of water in a large pot. Add the spinach (frozen or fresh), cover and cook stirring for a few minutes until the fresh spinach is wilted or the frozen spinach is thawed. Drain, and either puree in a blender with some of the cooking water, or simply chop finely.
3. Heat the ghee, butter or oil with the red chiles, cumin, cardamom, cloves and fennel seeds in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cumin turns a golden-brown color, 1-2 minutes. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, 45 seconds. Add the spinach and the salt. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
4. Place the paneer/tofu squares on top of the spinach. Cover and cook gently 5 more mintes. Halfway through the cooking, use a spatula to gently turn the paneer in the spinach. Taste for salt.
5. Serve with rice and/or Indian bread.