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In an attempt to use less dairy recently, I tried to make a vegan paneer cheese

Saag with vegan paneer and basmati rice

This recipe is a riff on Priya Krishna’s Saag Tofu from her cookbook Indian-ish. I made it for the first time a while ago and it was SO excellent that I’ve been anxiously waiting to make it again. In an attempt to use less dairy recently, I tried to make a vegan paneer cheese.

It’s nothing like paneer, I’ll be the first to admit but it adds a creaminess to the dish that makes it work. Ro make this vegan, swap the ghee with coconut or a neutral oil.

Serves 4

Ingredients

Vegan paneer

1 cup raw almonds

6 tbsp psyllium husk

1.5 tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp white miso

Saag

2 tbsp ghee

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1” fresh ginger, minced

1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted

1 small green chile roughly chopped

1.5 tsp lime juice

salt

1/2 cup water

Assembly

2 tbsp ghee

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp asafatida

1/4 tsp chile powder

1/2 cup brown basmati rice

Recipe

STEP 1

For the vegan paneer, let almonds sit in water overnight and soak in water. The next day, remove the skins from the almonds. In a separate bowl, add the psyllium husk with 12oz of water and mix. Let it soak for around an hour until it’s very thick.

STEP 2

Get started on the basmati rice and cook according to the package directions. Once the psyllium gels, add the almonds, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and miso paste to a blender and blend until a very smooth paste forms. Transfer to a rectangular glass container and place in the fridge for an hour.

STEP 3

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and cardamom. Cook stirring constantly until just starting to brown, around 2 minutes. Then add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent and slightly browned. Mix in the garlic and ginger and cook again, stirring for around 1 minute.

STEP 4

Add the spinach and cook until well incorporated, around 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chile and lime juice. Season with salt and let cool for a few minutes.

STEP 5

Place spinach mixture in a blender and blend until a course sauce forms. Return the spinach mixture to the pan. Set it on low heat and stir in water.

STEP 6

While the spinach mixture is cooking, heat 2 tbsp of ghee in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds. Once they start to pop and turn slightly brown, remove from heat and add the asafetida and chili powder. Serve the spinach topped with paneer, a side of basmati rice, and a drizzle of the chhonk (ghee mixture) you just made.

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Every Sunday evening, I send out a newsletter with the following week's dinner menu, and the seasonal produce featured. The newsletter is free, and I won't share or sell your email address.

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