Saag Paneer Minus the Paneer

Recipe 20 minPreparation Time 25 to 30 minCooking Time

Saag Paneer Minus the Paneer

20 minPreparation Time 25 to 30 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

In this vegan version of saag paneer, you won’t miss the dairy. And you'll get a dish packed with nutrition, including magnesium, folate, fiber, and anti-inflammatory spices.

The Benefits

Any dish like this, that’s mostly greens and tofu, is off to an excellent nutritional start. Adding a cornucopia of spices and some healthy fat seals the deal.


Serves 4
  • 2 to 3 cups (170 to 255 g) frozen or 4 to 6 cups (106 to 160 g) fresh spinach
  • A little water — about 2 Tbsp for fresh spinach; for frozen, no water necessary
  • 1 (14-oz / 396-g) package firm tofu
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin, divided
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) avocado oil, divided
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) knob of ginger
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Pinch of nigella seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • Pinch of hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) tomato puree
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Pinch of garam masala, for serving
  • Pinch of cayenne, for serving


  1. Step 1
    Combine the spinach and water (if using fresh spinach) in a pan over medium heat and sauté until the spinach is wilted and bright green. Transfer the spinach to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Step 2
    Put the tofu on a plate. Squeeze the water out of the tofu by placing a weighted pan on it for about 10 minutes. Then slice about 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of the ground cumin. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the avocado oil over medium heat and pan-sear the tofu until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Step 3
    In a blender, purée the red onion, garlic cloves, and ginger with a splash of water. Set aside.
  4. Step 4
    In a separate pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp (15 ml) avocado oil over medium heat and add the cumin seeds and a pinch of nigella seeds; let the spices cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the onion purée to the pan. Cook until golden brown, for about 5 minutes. Then add the turmeric, the remaining 1/4 tsp cumin, coriander, cayenne, and hing. Sauté for a minute. Add the tomato purée and sauté until aromatic, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Step 5
    Add salt to taste, the spinach purée, and water (if desired for a thinner consistency) to the aromatic tomato purée and stir well. Add in the tofu and coat with the spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Step 6
    Finish with fresh cilantro, a sprinkling of garam masala and cayenne. Enjoy!