If you’re a fan of Indian or Iranian cuisine, you’ve undoubtedly fallen in love with the squeaky, vegetarian umami bomb known as paneer. Paneer is a fresh curd cheese that doesn’t melt, absorbs the flavor of saucy dishes, and provides a wonderful textural element to soups. It can withstand the duration of crockpot cooking or crisp up in a fry pan. It’s crazy versatile and delicious! But… it’s not vegan.
Paneer has a lot of similar qualities to tofu–its mild taste makes it a fantastic flavor sponge in the right dishes. Tofu is a little more crumbly and has far less umami, so we have to tweak it just right in this paneer recipe to get that cheesy vibe from our friendly vegan soy block.
Vegan Paneer Recipe Ingredients:
12oz firm or extra firm tofu
1/4 cup rice flour *
1 tbsp Umami Dust *
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
Vegan Paneer Instructions:
Press the entire brick of tofu by wrapping it loosely in a flour sack towel or several paper towels, then weighting it down with a heavy cutting board or other flat, heavy object. Allow the tofu to sit and drain for 20-30 minutes. You may want to use a plate or bowl; it will release a lot of water!
While the tofu is pressing, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk or a fork.
Check on the tofu. It should be much firmer and flatter, but still slightly moist to the touch. If it’s ready, slice into 1×1/2×1/2″ pieces. Toss these pieces lightly in the dry mixture, coating evenly.
Heat oil in a deep sauce pan over medium heat (oil should reach ~350°F). Shake off any excess flour or seasoning from the tofu and carefully drop into the oil. Allow to fry for about 1 minute, then remove with a metal strainer or tongs. Set on a flour sack towel or paper towel to cool.
Eat your finished vegan paneer as a snack, toss it into a crockpot masala, or drop it into some curried lentil soup. This vegan paneer shines best in rich, saucy recipes where it can accent and absorb the flavors of the whole dish.
*Corn starch or all purpose flour can be substituted in place of rice flour in a pinch.
*Umami Dust is included in our Vegan Kit. If you don’t have any, you can substitute 1 tbsp of porcini mushroom powder or 1/4 tsp of MSG or a tiny splash of vegan Worcestershire sauce/liquid aminos. If using liquid, toss the tofu in the liquid first, then in the dry ingredients.