Likely the most commonly known nutritious leafy green (hello, Popeye), spinach is indeed a powerhouse, dense in vitamins and minerals. Spinach plants are in the same family as beetroot, silverbeet, quinoa and amaranth. ‘Eat your greens!’ is a common refrain and there are so many delicious ways to do so. Spinach is quite versatile; whether raw or cooked, and as an additional few leaves or the bulk of a dish.
Palak paneer is a rich spinach (palak) and fresh cottage cheese (paneer) dish hailing from India. It’s creamy and warming, infused with delicious curry spices simmered in cream. I am inspired by the traditional cultures and food heritage of dishes, and grateful for that base from which to create more wholefood leaning meals based around what’s coming from the fields here and now.
Today’s recipe is a riff on palak paneer, where spinach remains the star but additional greens from radish leaves and silverbeet offer variety, and there’s an option to swap paneer for tofu. I also use coconut milk in place of cream, which offers the same velvety background for this fragrant, green packed curry.
1 large bunch Spinach
1 bunch Silverbeet
1-2 bunch Radish Greens
4cm knob of Ginger
4 cloves Garlic
1 small Chili (or 1/2 teaspoon chili powder)
2 teaspoon Coconut Oil (or ghee)
1 teaspoon Cumin Seed
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
2-3 teaspoon Salt, to taste
200ml Coconut Milk (or cream)
400g Tofu (or paneer)
Fresh lemon or lime juice
The How To:
Lightly sauté spinach, silverbeet and radish greens; set aside to cool.
Roughly chop the onions. Peel away tough skin on ginger. In a blender place onions, garlic, ginger, chili, cooled greens and 1 cup water; whizz until you have a smooth purée.
In a large pot over medium heat melt coconut oil, then add cumin seed and bay leaves and toast for a few moments. Slowly, carefully pour in the pitcher of green goodness. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add cumin powder, garam masala and salt. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add coconut milk and cubed tofu and allow to cook a further 5 minutes.
- I serve alongside soaked brown rice (basmati is the most fragrant and fitting nod to the Indian roots of the dish)
- In order to enjoy the most benefit of the iron rich spinach, you need to combine with vitamin C; hence squeezing fresh lemon or lime juice over your bowl, and maybe finishing the meal with a juicy orange or kiwi fruit. Plant power!
-Don’t have spinach/radish greens/silverbeet? Substitute! Go all spinach, or mix and match with kale, baby kale, collard greens. You want a total of around 500g greens, whichever you use.
Recipe created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes & Wholefoods