“Hey Molly, what’s that you’re making?” asks my teeny tiny roommate one recent evening.
“Saag Paneer. Except there’s no paneer. But there is tofu. And it’s not spinach. But it is kale…” I answer ironically because I sometimes confuse the words “ironic” and “idiotic.”
“Sooo…” she says, still teeny tiny.
We stare at each other. Me, my roommate, the kale.
“Indian food. I’m making Indian food.”
Then the kale winks suggestively the way only leafy greens can and we all get uncomfortable. But like, in a nice way. I think this is called Stockholm Syndrome?
So this is Saag Paneer without the Saag or the Paneer but all the flavors of such. And the aromas. It’s easy and quick to make, another solid way to utilize yogurt because we love yogurt, and full of vegetarian protein, not so many carbs, and just the cutest amount of fat. 5 grams – adorable! Combine it with some rice or naan or couscous or quinoa or cauliflower rice if you’re into that sort of thing. Each portion is pretty giant, however, if you just want a quick and easy little meal.
Oh and thank God for those engulfing aromas. My stairwell smelled like a dying homeless person the night I made this (let’s just say that the small dog who lives above me exploded on every single step for 3 floors. Let’s just say that.). Since moving to New York, I’ve become pretty familiar with this specifically pungent odor. But it turns out Indian food clears that shit (too soon?) right up. So the next time you find yourself in one of those subway cars that is oddly vacant but for a crippling smell, just make some impromptu tandoori chicken or something. You travel with a hot plate, right?
Of course you do.
KALE SAAG TOFU
makes 4 giant servings
adapted from Sanjiv Dhar’s Indian Cooking: Light and Easy
- 1 12oz package extra firm tofu, dried thoroughly and cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 16oz bag frozen kale , defrosted (I tried once with fresh kale and it wasn’t as good. Just some frozen-kale-for-thought.)
- 100g onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1″ cube of fresh ginger
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 150g (5.3oz) icelandic skyr or Greek yogurt
I’m sorry I told you about the dog that exploded in my apartment building and that I brought it up twice…
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set out the tofu cubes in one layer on the pan. Spray with some cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and a little puffed.
While your tofu is baking, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, and 2 tablespoons of water in a food processor. Puree to create a paste.
Spray a skillet/wok/frying pan/whatever with cooking spray. Cook the onion paste on medium-low to medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it becomes a little golden. Don’t let it burn – turn the heat the down before the onions get too brown and let it cook at a lower heat if you need to.
Add the kale and 1/3 cup of water to the pan and cook til the kale is completely defrosted and incorporated with the onion mixture. Add the seasonings and mix throughly. Stir in the baked tofu. Add the almond milk and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes or so.
When it’s thickened some and all the flavors are fully incorporated/adjusted to your liking, remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt.
Serve with a smile and a side of your winning good looks.