Vegan Cashew Paneer
Ever heard of Vegan Cashew Paneer? Well, here’s some inspiration on how to make dairy-free paneer from scratch at home!!
Whether you’re leading a vegan lifestyle, are looking to cut down dairy or just simply lactose intolerant, this vegan cashew paneer recipe is not to be missed! As a vegetarian, my choices are usually limited to lentils, paneer or tofu, if I had to make a main gravy dish. Some popular Indian recipes like Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Tikka etc. are my favorite, and I can’t say I like tofu as much in these recipes.
While looking for a bunch of inspiration online, I realized there aren’t too many “paneer” substitutes besides tofu. Sure, you can make tofu with lentils, but it isn’t as fun or ‘real-looking’ like the white malai paneer. This was my first attempt at making paneer with a nut, and I’m pleasantly surprised with the results! I’ve also made another improved version with almonds (which I will share soon). But read on to learn how to make this vegan cashew paneer, and how to use it in cooking.
What is this Vegan Paneer substitute made of?
This Vegan Paneer Substitute is 100% plant-based and dairy-free, and is made with pure cashews.
Now, I know you’re probably wondering if this is too “rich” (both in taste & for your pocket). Yes, this paneer is creamy, rich & mimics the dairy paneer fairly well. I
t isn’t really as expensive as you think it is! Here’s some unit economics for ya – If you had to make this much Paneer with milk, it’ll cost you ~$3 for half a gallon of whole milk. Now this recipe calls for just under 1/4 cup Cashews, and makes a lot more than what half a gallon of dairy milk will yield!
And not to mention all the health benefits of choosing a plant-based source. Paneer isn’t an everyday dish anyway, and if you’re going to splurge once in a while, you can certainly afford the calories!
How to make Vegan Cashew Paneer?
Start by soaking cashews in water for a few hours. Make sure you get a good quality variety. The soaking helps you blend the cashews easily.
After this, just dump the cashews with a pinch of salt, oil, lemon juice and cornstarch, and give it a good blitz. You’re looking for a smooth and creamy mixture. Don’t be afraid to add some water, since it’s all going to cook out anyway. But you’re looking for a thick mixture, not a milk.
Add the mixture onto a pan, and stir constantly and cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened smoothly. Once it cools a bit, add to a greased dish & refrigerate overnight or until set.
Then de-mold, slice & serve your fresh cashew paneer! The cornstarch is important as it helps thicken the paneer!
How to store the Vegan Paneer substitute?
Much like dairy paneer, this cashew paneer is also perishable, but lasts a bit longer. I usually recommend using it up in a week. But you could certainly make it last longer in the refrigerator.
What I wont recommend is freezing the vegan paneer. It wont last longer. Freezing screws up the texture of the paneer. Ice crystals form in between the paneer and it becomes separated and weird. Just store in the refrigerator and use as soon as possible.
How to cook with the Vegan Cashew Paneer?
While this vegan cashew paneer tastes amazing, rich & creamy, much like the dairy paneer, you need to realize it isn’t real paneer. It’s just a vegan substitute for paneer, and needs to be cooked the way intended. Because we’re using a thickening agent like cornstarch, the mixture holds its shape and looks like paneer. But if you cook the paneer in a gravy for way too long, it’ll disintegrate real quick.
The best way to cook this vegan paneer is to lightly pan fry or grill the paneer cubes until they’re kinda crisp on the outside. Then right before serving your curry/gravy or rice, add these cubes, mix & consume immediately. The longer these cubes last in a gravy, the higher the chances of disintegrating!
And that’s why I usually like to flavor the mixture while cooking this paneer. That way, you don’t have to worry about a long marination or cooking process.
P.S: This also works with almonds, hazelnuts & peanuts (just make sure to blanch & remove the skin); and frankly the texture of the almond paneer is the best.
Here’s a quick video on how to make paneer using cashews –
PRINT the recipe –Print
Learn how to make this amazing plant-based substitute for one of the most popular ingredients used in the Indian Cuisine: Paneer!
- 1/4 cup Raw White Cashews
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1 pinch of Salt
- 1 pinch of pepper or any spices you like (optional)
- 1 Tbsp neutral Veg Oil
- 1 Lemon, freshly squeezed (optional, adds a nice tang)
- 3 TBsp Cornstarch
- Soak cashews for 4-5 hours
- Add to blender along with rest of the ingredients
- Grind to smooth puree. It should be like a smooth batter.
- Add to a nonstick pan, cook on medium heat
- Keep stirring continuously; within a few minutes, the mixture will start to thicken
- Once most of the water content has been cooked out and you have a thick, smooth mixture, let it cool a bit
- Add to a greased glass or tupperware dish
- Cover with a lid; refrigerate (NOT freeze) overnight or for a few hours until the mixture has set
- Loosen edges, remove the paneer from the dish
- Slice into cubes & enjoy!
How to cook with the vegan paneer:
- Lightly pan fry or grill until the edges are golden
- Add to any gravy or rice dish right before serving
How to store the vegan paneer:
- In an air tight container, in the refrigerator for upto a week
- Do not freeze the paneer
What can you use this paneer for?
- Gravy dishes like tikka masala, paneer kadhai, paneer chili etc.
- Rice dishes like Paneer Pulao
- As a base for Rasmalai or Gulab Jamun
- Crumbled & added to Rabri
- Category: Basics
- Method: Pot Cooking
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: how to make a vegan paneer substitute, vegan cashew paneer recipe
Thank you for reading! If you do have any questions while making this vegan cashew paneer, feel free to drop your comments below & I’ll do my best to address them.