I am fairly confident that my Indian friends would laugh at me for this dish. A VEGAN palak paneer? For anyone who does not know… paneer is actually a form of cheese that is very popular in Indian dishes. And no, that cheese is not vegan 😉.
But, last year we had an awful lot of spinach in our farmer’s box. And palak paneer is one of my favorite dishes when we go out for Indian food. So I kind of thought – let me try and create a version that is plant-based. Because I wanted to have that bit of extra bite from the cheese (which is not typically found in German supermarkets), I decided to use Tempeh. And you know what? It tasted lovely and I was more than excited when spinach came back in the farmer’s box this year and I could shoot the recipe.
This dish packs a punch in terms of flavor from both the onion, garlic, and spices that have been used. Plus that gorgeous, green color clearly makes a great accessory in a picture 😉. It also comes together super easily. If you love Indian cuisine, I am convinced this recipe is for you.
Why is this vegan Palak Paneer good for you?
Spinach belongs to the family of “dark, leafy, greens”. It contains healthy doses of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vitamin K. Calcium is important for our bone health. It also allows our blood to clot, helps with contracting our muscles and keeps our heart healthy. Iron is important for your red blood cells in order to carry oxygen through the body. If you do not have enough iron in your body your muscles and bones are receiving less oxygen, which can cause unusual tiredness. Spinach also contains an antioxidant called “alpha-lipoic-acid”. This has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and increase sensitivity to insulin in patients with diabetes.
Something that we are still less familiar with in Western Europe. Tempeh is originally from Indonesia and made by fermenting soybeans. Tempeh is rich in Protein, Maganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Calcium. Calcium is particularly important for your bone health and may prevent the development of Osteoporosis (= your bones becoming fragile). Tempeh also contains something called “soy isoflavones”, which have an antioxidative effect and can reduce oxidative stress and chronic disease in your body.
One of my favorite additions to a meal and an all-rounder when it comes to your health. Onions are particularly high in Vitamin C, B6, and B9 and are also a great prebiotic. This makes onions great in being supportive of your immunity. They also play a key role for your metabolism and forming DNA within your body. Onions may benefit your heart health as they are known to decrease the “bad” Cholesterol, inflammation and triglycerides in our bodies. This is further supported by the antioxidant properties found in onions. One, in particular – “anthocyanins” – has been shown to further reduce your risk of heart attacks.
Both the powder and root have a bright yellow color that, if you have worked with it before, manages to stain literally everything 😂. Curcumin, which is the main compound found in turmeric, has strong antioxidant properties, which manages to destroy free radicals inside your body. Turmeric also has strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Chronic inflammation has been linked to chronic diseases, including cancer, as the constant inflamed state can lead to DNA damage inside our bodies.
How can I adjust this recipe to my dietary requirements?
This recipe is vegetarian and vegan. If you leave out the Tempeh (or sub it with a paleo alternative) this recipe is also paleo. For a nut-free version, you could swap in greek or coconut yogurt (about 3/4 of a cup) instead of the cashews. If you would rather like to make paneer (and can eat dairy) instead of using Tempeh, I found this recipe that might be helpful.
And there you have it for this week 🤗. Enjoy this delicious transfer to the Indian continent and let me know how you got on – either in the comments or over on Instagram under @life_and_lemons_foodblog and with the #lifeandlemonsfoodblog. Happy cooking!
Vegan Palak PaneerCourse: MainCuisine: Indian, veganDifficulty: Easy
This Vegan Palak Paneer only contains plant-based ingredients that pack a punch of flavor when transporting you to the Indian continent.
- For the Sauce
250 gr Spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves
½ cup non-dairy milk
½ cup cashews
- For the Tempeh
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
- For the Palak
2 garlic cloves
1 thumb-piece size of ginger, peeled and grated
1 large white onion
¾ tsp cumin
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp turmeric
A little bit of water
Heat-stable oil (coconut oil) for frying
- Start by washing the spinach and place it in a blender together with 2 of the garlic cloves, non-dairy milk and cashews and blend on high speed until smooth
- Cut the tempeh into bite-sized pieces and fry off with a 1 tsp of the coconut oil – ca. 5 minutes adding the cumin and cayenne whilst the tempeh is in the pan. Meanwhile, crush the rest of the garlic cloves, ginger and cut the onion into small pieces
- Take the tempeh out of the pan and turn the heat to low. Add the crushed garlic and ginger along with a bit more of the oil and all the spices continue to stir until fragrant – ca. 2 minutes. Now add the onions and continue to fry (add a little bit more of the oil if needed). You can also add a bit of water at the time to render the onions down – you do not want them burnt but translucent and not remaining with too much of a bite. Now, add the spinach mixture to the pan and immediately turn the setting to low. Cook until everything is hot. Feel free to adjust any of the seasonings if you need a bit more of a kick (or feel one of the flavors could come through stronger). If you feel the palak is getting too thick you can also add a bit more of the non-dairy milk.
- Add the tempeh and immediately serve with rice, flatbread or both! Enjoy!!