Paneer and tofu both taste great – there's really not any doubt about that – but which of the two comes out on top? Although many confuse these delicious delicacies because of their similarities, they have plenty of differences too, even though both are made from a type of milk.
So, to start, tofu is a soy based product that is condensed into a block, whereas the Indian delicacy paneer - great for a paneer tikka - comes from curdling milk, using food acids like lemon juice and vinegar. The two look almost identical, it's true, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're created equal…
1. Paneer can be used to make some very tasty curries
Traditionally hailing from India, paneer is a popular ingredient in many curries. This rich and creamy cheese is hugely versatile, and is famed for taking on the exotic flavours of the herbs and spices it's mixed with. A great way to add some protein to vegetarian options, it also goes really well with meatier choices. One of our favourite paneer curries is the Pasanda from 25 Degrees North, which perfectly blends this delicious cheese with dried fruits and a rich gravy to create a true veggie delight. Their Paneer Tikka is pretty great too!
2. Tofu is suitable for vegans
Unlike dairy-based paneer, tofu has a very important benefit: it's a perfect meal choice for vegans. Those who choose to avoid animal products often struggle to find delicious dinners they can actually eat, so tofu is a true godsend. Obtained from soybeans, it can be added to lots of popular meals in place of meat, and often tastes just as good. It's especially yummy when tried in the Zen Rolls sold by Toko, where it's fried and blended with chuka, enoki, shiitake, and teriyaki sauce.
3. Paneer can be used as a substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes
It might not be suitable for vegans, but paneer can be a good option for vegetarians who want to order an authentic Indian curry minus the meat. Blending well with the herbs and spices used in such dishes, it's flavoursome enough to more than make up for the lack of lamb or beef, and is often used as a substitute for chicken in veggie tikkas – in fact, many people claim to prefer this option to the original. If you want to try it for yourself and see if you agree with them, we recommend the brilliant Bombay Bungalow's version.
4. Tofu is super healthy
It's a very close toss-up between the two, but tofu also has the advantage of being supremely healthy. Low in fat, it's a fantastic option for those who are counting their calories, having all the flavour you could need in your meal without any of the usual naughtiness. If you fancy a curry but don't want to overindulge, then the Coconut Curry from PF Chang's is your friend: combining stir-fried vegetables, crispy tofu, and peanuts in a coconut-based sauce, it will leave you licking your lips and patting your perfectly flat tummy with glee.
So all that leaves is an answer to our big question… Trouble is that after all of that, we're still no nearer to deciding between these two delicious dishes, so we guess you'll just have to indulge twice over to see for yourself which you prefer!