Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kale and Tofu - Indian Style

This is a healthy remake of one of my favourite dishes called Palek Paneer which originates in North Indian.  IT is a beautiful dish that goes over well with all people including those that would not usually eat kale!  It is also easy and flavourful and suitable for both gluten free and vegetarian eaters.  Serve as a main course with whole grain Indian breads and brown rice or as a side-dish to more traditional meals.

Traditionally it is made with spinach but I used kale as it is what I still have in my garden and it makes a fine substitute.  Paneer is a fresh Indian cheese.  If paneer is not on hand you can use a firm tofu like I have or a firm ricotta cheese or even diced potatoes. I give instructions below if you would like to try making your own fresh paneer.

2 Tbsp (30 ml) oil - I use grapeseed
350 gram package tofu, firm (or paneer or firm ricotta cheese)

1 cup (250 ml) onion, diced
2 cloves of fresh garlic  - I use Ontario organic garlic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) ginger, fresh, grated or minced
2 tsp (10 ml) coriander seed, ground
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin seeds or ground
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) turmeric, ground
1 tsp (5 ml) garam masala (Indian spice blend)
1 tomato, fresh
8 cups (2 liters) kale, fresh, shredded
1/2 cup (125 ml) water - as needed
Note: Substitute  2 x 10 oz cello packs of fresh cabbage, spinach or Swiss chard for the kale.


1.  Cut the firm tofu (paneer, ricotta, potato...) into 2.5 cm/1" cubes. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and fry on both sides until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.
2.  In the same pan fry the onions, minced garlic, ginger, and spices and saute until the onions are soft.
3.  Add the chopped fresh tomato and shredded kale mix well.  Continue cooking until vegetables are tender but not overcooked.  The water is an optional ingredient if you want it a bit saucier.   
4.  To serve, add the previously fried tofu/paneer cubes and toss lightly. 

NUTRITION FACTS (per 1 cup/250 ml serving): 190 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 2 g sugar, 12 g protein.  % Daily Values are 290% vitamin A, 200% vitamin C, 25% calcium and 20% iron.

We can't buy paneer in northern Ontario but you could always make your own!   To make paneer at home you bring 1 liter/4 cups of milk to a boil over low heat.  Add 30 ml/2 Tbsp of lemon juice and stir continuously and gently until the milk thickens and begins to curdle.  Strain the curdled milk thorough a sieve lined with muslin (cheesecloth).  Set aside under a heavy weight for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to press to a flat shape about 1 cm/ 1/2 inch thick.  Make the paneer the day before you plan to use it in a recipe; it will then be firmer and easier to handle.  Cut and use as required; it will keep for about one week in the refrigerator (from: the Complete Book of Indian Cooking by Shehad Husain and Rafi Fernandez, Acropolis Books, Annes Publishing Limited 1995)

I teach a Tikka and Tandoori Indian class and also Indian Vegetarian Cooking. 
© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
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