Written by Taylor Mogavero, Program Coordinator

A delicious way to eat your greens! Palak is an Indian spinach gravy that is typically served with paneer, a soft cheese. Using this meal as inspiration, I have created a plant-based version that takes 30 minutes to make! For a more traditional but still plant-based version of palak paneer, please see Vegan Palak Paneer with Tofu by Rainbow Plant Life.

Though traditionally made with spinach, you can use any green leafy vegetable from your garden or farmers’ market for this recipe. Boil your tofu for a “soft cheese” texture or bake for a crispy and chewy texture. For extra ease (or soy allergy), you can also use canned chickpeas. 

Takes 30 min to make! (if using chickpeas or boiling tofu – baked tofu may take longer)

Image from Rainbow Plant Life


▢ 2 (14-ounce or 16-ounce) blocks of extra firm tofu OR 2 cans chickpeas

▢ 3-4 tbsp oil and 1-2 tbsp starch (if baking tofu)

Green Sauce

▢ 8-10 ounces (225-285g) green leafy vegetable, washed well*

▢ 1 can full-fat coconut milk

▢ 1 cup water

▢ 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled 

▢ ½ onion, roughly chopped

▢ 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

▢ 2 small tomatoes OR ½ can of diced tomatoes

▢ 1 serrano pepper (remove seeds for a mild heat) OR chili flakes to taste


▢ ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

▢ 1 teaspoon ground cumin 

▢ 1 teaspoon ground coriander

▢ 1 teaspoon cardamom 

▢ 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek (optional)

▢ ¾ teaspoon kosher or sea salt

▢ Freshly cracked black pepper

▢ 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)

For Finishing (optional)

▢ Freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice

▢ Chopped cilantro

▢ Coconut yogurt

▢ White rice or bread


Tofu – Baking Method**

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. 
  2. Drain the tofu and squeeze with a dish rag to absorb extra water. Rip the tofu into similarly sized, 1-inch pieces.
  3. Toss tofu pieces with 3-4 tbsp oil and 1-2 tbsp starch. 
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crispy and browned. You can flip the tofu pieces halfway for a crispier texture.

Tofu – Boiling Method 

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  2. Drain the tofu and chop into cubes.
  3. Add the cubed tofu to the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Use a strainer to remove the tofu from the water and drain immediately. 

No prep for chickpeas

For All Methods

  1. Add all “Green Sauce” and “Spices” ingredients into a blender. Blend until completely smooth.
  2. Heat a pot or Dutch oven to medium-low. Pour in the Green Sauce and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Stir occasionally and add more water if the sauce seems to be drying out. 
  3. Add tofu or chickpeas. Stir gently to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is thoroughly heated. 
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper or extra spices. Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice on top.
  5. If using, add cilantro and coconut yogurt to garnish. Serve with white rice or bread. 


*Blanch your greens to reduce bitterness.

**Want extra chewy tofu? 1) Press your tofu by wrapping it in dish towels and laying something heavy on top, such as books or cans, for 10-20 minutes. 2) Freeze your tofu instead of refrigerating it. The night before or the morning you plan to cook with it, move it to the refrigerator. Use as normal.

Inspired by Vegan Palak Paneer with Tofu by Rainbow Plant Life


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