Since I’m experimenting more and more with vegan and gluten-free foods and I love all types of ethnic cuisines, I was delighted to receive a copy of Dahlia Abraham-Klein’s new book Silk Road Vegetarian.
Sharing the “secrets of healthy and sustainable eating as practiced along the trade routes of Asia for centuries,” this book is perfect for mindful cooks who want to eat a healthy diet filled with locally-sourced ingredients. All recipes are vegetarian; some are also vegan, dairy-free and/or gluten-free. Each recipe is labeled so there is no confusion, but I do wish nutritional information had been included.
A staple of North Indian cuisine, traditional Palak Paneer is made with lots of ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (fresh Indian cheese). In this healthier vegan version, Dahlia uses coconut oil instead of ghee and she substitutes tofu for the paneer. The result is a fresh dish that isn’t swimming in fat. This recipe is similar to one of my favorite vegan breakfast dishes – Tofu Scramble with Swiss Chard. The Indian Spinach Curry recipe below adds tomatoes, a wider variety of spices and seems to be more appropriate for dinner.
If you can afford the carbs, serve this with some steamed brown rice that was cooked with fragrant cardamom pods.
Time-saving tip: Use a 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach instead of fresh or use pre-washed baby spinach and don’t bother chopping it.
If you like this recipe, some of my Virtual Potluck pals will be sharing others from Silk Road Vegetarian this week. Check out Fennel & Orange Salad from Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine and Middle Eastern Lemon Potato Salad from Cookistry.
I’m giving away a copy of Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein. To enter, leave a comment and tell me your favorite cuisine and/or dish to eat along the Silk Road (trade routes through Asia, Africa, Europe and India) – Asian, Indian, Mediterranean, North African, etc. The contest will run through Tuesday, June 17, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours or another winner may be selected. (Please make sure email from firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)
Indian Spinach Curry (Palak Paneer)
Adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
16-ounce block of firm tofu
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
4 cups finely chopped fresh spinach (large stems removed before chopping)
Place two paper towels on a cutting board and set the tofu on top. Put two more paper towels on top of the tofu and place something heavy on the stack (I use a bacon press or cast iron skillet). Let it sit for at least 5 minutes to remove some of the moisture from the tofu. Discard paper towels and slice tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.
Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange tofu in single layer and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until browned all over. Set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until translucent.
Add coriander, cumin and turmeric to saucepan; stir until fragrant. Add ginger, chili powder and crushed red pepper, if using. Cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.
Add crushed tomatoes and salt to saucepan, then bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the spinach. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 7 minutes or until the spinach is bright green.
Gently stir in the tofu and combine well. Simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors of the curry.
Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 142 calories, 8g fat (4g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 531mg sodium, 9g carb, 3g fiber, 3g sugar, 10g protein
Nutritional Analysis: If you are watching your Sodium intake, eliminate or reduce the amount of coarse kosher salt. If you’d like to cut back on the amount of Saturated Fat, use olive oil instead of coconut oil.