Tofu With Spinach, Ginger, Coriander and Turmeric

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Tofu takes the place of paneer, which is an Indian cheese, in this lighter version of saag paneer.  This is a classic Indian dish made with fresh spinach sautéed in plenty of spices. The seared tofu and yogurt are stirred in at the end, making it a satisfying meal that's wonderful served over steamed rice.


MAKES: 4 Servings
PREP/COOK TIME: 30 minutes

  • ¾ pound firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped shallot or red onion
  • 4 lengthwise slices peeled fresh ginger (2 inches long, 1 inch wide, 1/8 inch thick), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 whole dried red chilies, like Thai, cayenne or arbol
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
  •  Salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh spinach, stems trimmed at the end and washed in 2 changes of water, or 12 ounces baby spinach, rinsed
  • ½ cup drained yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon cornstarch


  1. Drain the tofu on paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a wok or a large, heavy lidded skillet and add the tofu. Stir-fry until golden brown and remove from the heat.
  2. Combine the shallot or onion and the ginger in a food processor or mini-chop and blend until finely minced, almost a paste.
  3. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat in a wok or skillet and add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds and whole chiles. Cook, stirring, for about 15 seconds, or until the spices are fragrant and reddish-brown. Add the onion and ginger and stir-fry until it is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the coriander, salt, cayenne and turmeric, stir for about 10 seconds and add the spinach in batches, adding the next batch after the first batch wilts and stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.
  4. Stir in the tofu, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the spinach is uniformly wilted and the tofu is warmed through.
  5. Whisk the cornstarch into the yogurt. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the chilies, and stir in the yogurt. Taste, adjust salt and serve with rice or other grains.

Adapted from one of Martha Rose Shulman's amazing recipes.


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