Paneer, a fresh cheese that tastes like a cross between mozzarella and feta, is a common ingredient in vegetarian Indian recipes. To make this healthy Indian spinach recipe vegan, substitute tofu for the paneer and use “lite” coconut milk instead of yogurt.

EatingWell Test Kitchen


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring rice and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to maintain a low simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes (see Tip). Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add paneer (or tofu) and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, chickpeas, ginger, garam masala and cumin. Cook, stirring, until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach, tomatoes and salt and cook until hot, about 3 minutes. Return the paneer (or tofu) to the pan and cook, gently stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt. Serve the rice with the stew.


To have the most success cooking whole-grain rice, use a pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook on your coolest (or simmer) burner, making sure the rice is simmering at the lowest bubble. When preparing a recipe that calls for less than 1 cup of dry rice, like this, we found that rice is done quicker than when cooking a larger amount. So, when cooking a small batch of rice, start checking it after 30 minutes to make sure it doesn't burn.

Nutrition Facts

507 calories; protein 25.8g; carbohydrates 49g; dietary fiber 9.1g; sugars 5.9g; fat 25.4g; saturated fat 11g; cholesterol 58.5mg; vitamin a iu 14735.8IU; vitamin c 11.2mg; folate 191.9mcg; calcium 539.7mg; iron 3.7mg; magnesium 115.6mg; potassium 623.9mg; sodium 536.1mg; thiamin 0.2mg.

Reviews (4)

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4 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 1
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 3 stars
I found this dish had a pleasant mild flavor and was and easy dish to prepare. Perfect for a weeknight meal. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Bitter - possibly because of cooking process This ended up with a bitter taste and I wonder but it may be because of when the spices are added. If I try this again (dependent on being able to find the cheese which should make it more flavorful) I add the spices just befor adding the tomatoes and spinach. I'll give them a quick bloom. Hoping that will eliminate the bitterness. Pros: Healthy different cuisine Cons: May not be able to find the cheese possible problem with when spices are added Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Flavorful Vegetarian Dish I was surprised how much flavor developed in such a quick dish. We couldn't find paneer in a grocery store but luckily we have an Indian market in town. It's hard to believe that we can have fried cheese in a healthy meal! It didn't turn out beautifully after I mixed the yogurt in but it was delicious. I added the reserved tomato juice (from canned diced tomatoes) when I added the spices to keep them from sticking to the pan. I'll definitely make this again. Pros: Quick easy spicy Cons: Kids didn't like spice chickpeas or spinach Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Very tasty and satisfying This first recipe of my Lose It Challenge turned out great! I made the paneer myself (a Cook's Illustrated recipe - very easy) and was pleasantly surprised how well it browned and kept its shape during the pan frying. I used fresh tomatoes and cooked the spices together with the onion to bloom them before adding the chickpeas. I will definitely make this again! Pros: Healthy Cons: None Read More