It seems almost an injustice to put it into words. I love the the aromas, the textures, the spices, and widely varied ingredients. There's an incredible diversity in the food culture of India -- and so much fascinating history behind the cuisine, which has benefited from the influences of numerous peoples and traditions.
On top of everything, Indian food is easily adaptable for strict vegetarians, for the gluten-free crowd, and it is extremely budget-friendly (for all you frugal gourmets out there). It's also one of the best ways I know to use those couple of pounds of stray greens you have lying around. You know, the ones you bought (even though you didn't know what you were going to do with them) because they looked SO AMAZING at the farmer's market.
Saag paneer (or similarly, palak paneer), is a smooth, spiced Indian dish, the best versions of which are sprinkled liberally with sizable chunks of a cheese called paneer. The dish hails from the northern portion of India, where flat bread (puris, chapatis, or na'an) is generally served in lieu of rice. The food is typically eaten by hand using the bread to scoop up the accompanying dishes.
The purists are going to hunt me down one of these days for making this dish with tofu, rather than paneer. But, I'm going to stand behind my ways. The fact is, I've been making this substitution for years -- to the extent that it has become the rule, rather than the exception.
exactly the same thing. We use different recipes -- but our philosophies are very much the same. In fact, I'm even going to use a quote from her to explain the difference between tofu and paneer:
Tofu and paneer have a couple of similarities. They’re both white. They’re both moderately firm. They both enjoy getting simmered on a flavorful bed of spiced creamed spinach, and they both willingly take on whatever flavors they are offered. Where the similarity ends is in terms of texture and flavor. Paneer is thick, slightly chewy but rich and dense. The flavor is creamy and just barely sweet, like fresh milk. Tofu, on the other hand, is a spongy and occasionally slightly bitter vehicle for whatever it happens to run into. Oddly, I’m okay with that. -- TinaYeah, we're OK with that too. If you're not, we can respect that. But, please don't be a troll and leave nasty comments about our ignorance. We KNOW they're not the same.
But, I digress. The fact of the matter is, paneer isn't all that hard to find, and it's not even terribly difficult to make (or so we hear). In fact, we might even decide to tackle a paneer-making project one of these days. But, in the meantime, tofu is a lovely substitute.
Saag tofu takes a bit of prep work to get things going, but the dish actually comes together quite quickly -- so this is more than appropriate for a weeknight meal. You'll even have enough time to whip up a side of red lentil daal to accompany it, if you feel like going the extra mile. But, it makes a perfectly respectable meal in and of itself.
Flavorful, fresh, and beautifully green, this saag is redolent with spices and garlic. The texture is velvety and slightly tangy from the yogurt, and the mustard greens add a little bit of bite. Freshly ground garam masala elevates the spice quotient to new heights.
Just perfect scooped onto a warmed piece of garlicky na'an.
Saag Tofu (or Paneer)
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