Vegan Indian Palak "Paneer" (Spinach and Tofu)

Indian palak paneer spinach and tofu

The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
180 Calories
10g Fat
14g Carbs
12g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 53mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Protein 12g
Calcium 365mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Traditional versions of Indian palak paneer (creamy Indian spinach with cheese) and the similar dish of saag paneer are made from a soft cheese that is not aged, called paneer. For home cooks in the US, many westernized versions of this recipe use ricotta cheese for a reasonable fascimile in place of the paneer cheese.

This vegan and gluten-free recipe for Indian palak paneer, however uses tofu instead of paneer, for a completely dairy-free and vegan dish. Palak paneer is also very similar to saag paneer, another Indian restaurant favorite, particularly for vegetarians. 

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and also a completely gluten-free and vegan dinner


  • 1 package tofu (firm or extra firm tofu, well pressed and sliced into 1-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup soy yogurt (if you can't find plain, use vanilla or lemon)
  • 6 bunches spinach

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Indian palak paneer spinach and tofu
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  2. Drain and press your tofu well. Not sure how to do that? Check out this step by step guide for how to press tofu. Once your tofu is drained and pressed, slice it into about 1-inch cubes.

    Tofu in a bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  3. Saute tofu and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil until tofu is lightly crisp on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes.

    Saute tofu
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  4. In a separate large skillet or a wok, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the curry powder, turmeric, ginger powder, and water, then whisk in the non-dairy yogurt.

    Heat olive oil
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  5. Add the spinach, stirring to cover in the yogurt sauce. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to add the spinach in batches. It cooks down quickly, so stay on it and keep adding more as quickly as possible to ensure a relatively even cooking time.

    Add spinach
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  6. Once the spinach is fully cooked down, remove the pan from heat and process the spinach mixture in a food processor or blender until almost creamy (an immersion blender will be useful for this step, if you have one) or until it has a nice texture, keeping in mind that some more moisture will be absorbed as it cooks and cools. 

    Spinach is cooked down
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  7. Return the spinach to the skillet and add the sauteed tofu. Cook and stir until the tofu is well mixed with the spinach and the dish is completely heated through. 

    Return spinach to skillet
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak
  8. Serve your vegan palak and tofu dish along side plain steamed white or brown rice, or, mix it up a bit and accompany your homecooked meal with another whole grain, such as quinoa or your favorite ancient grain.

    Serve vegan palak
    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

    Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

    Steam expands quickly in a blender, and can cause ingredients to splatter everywhere or cause burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only one-third of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.