This classic Paneer dish needs no introduction at all. A Desi staple that is a crowd favorite, this spinach and Indian cottage cheese curry never fails to delight. Palak Paneer, Instant Pot way is all the rage in my house these days. The Instant Pot version is just what you need when it is time for a party. Looking for an easy vegetarian friendly Thanksgiving dinner recipe? This easy curry is the perfect answer.
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This easy version has become a thing here at the Praveens’.My daughter who is a die hard fan of anything Paneer votes for this whenever there is a curry vote. This and stovetop Palak Paneer stand for a tough fight these days.
Saag Paneer vs Palak Paneer
While both these dishes are very popular and use very similar ingredients, they are different. Saag in Hindi translates to all sorts of leafy greens. Palak on the other hand is Indian Spinach.
Essentially, Saag includes Spinach, Purslane, Fenugreek leaves (Methi), Bathua (Lamb’s quarters), Amaranth leaves and Sarson Ka Saag ( Mustard greens). So when someone says Saag Paneer, it means that it is a curry with one or a combination of the above list of greens and Paneer.
Palak Paneer is typically a combination of Indian spinach, spices, spice blends, onions, tomatoes and Paneer- Indian cottage cheese.
What I love about this recipe is that it calls for basic pantry staples. It is mild in terms of spices and yet the ingredients all come together beautifully.
Indian spinach is just what you need for this recipe. If you are unable to source fresh Palak, you can use frozen Palak from the Indian grocery stores. Trust me, frozen spinach is a Godsend and is totally worth the freezer real-estate.
So, you cant find Indian spinach at all. Then what? Use baby spinach. Works well perfectly.
I am one of those people who just cannot be bothered with making fresh paneer from the scratch. Frozen paneer cubes from the Indian grocery store work like a charm here. Just thaw them before using. Also, this recipe does not involve frying the paneer.
Onions, Ginger, Garlic and Tomatoes
What is a curry without these, eh? The base for this easy Instant Pot recipe is a combination of onions, ginger garlic paste and tomatoes. If you do not have access to fresh tomatoes, use 1 teaspoon tomato paste or ¼ cup canned tomatoes.
As for the ginger and garlic, I have used ginger garlic paste. I wanted a really quick version here. If you do not have this on hand, use 2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic and 1.25 teaspoon grated ginger instead.
Add the garlic and ginger to the oil along with the onions and proceed with the recipe.
Whole and ground spices
Simple recipes are the best, don’t you agree? While I love whipping up curries using exotic spice blends, spinach paneer curry will always remain my favorite. Because it is the perfect example of how simple things shine through in food.
All we need for this curry are ground coriander, some garam masala and paprika. We will also be using some Kasuri Methi ( dried fenugreek leaves) for added flavor. You can easily find this in Indian grocery stores.
Many people prefer using cream to thicken spinach paneer curry. But I love cashews. Cashews give a nice creamy mouth feel without altering the inherent taste of spinach. It also helps the paneer to shine through.
Palak Paneer with frozen spinach
You can easily make this with frozen spinach. Place the inner pot inside the IP. Turn on Saute mode for 5 mins. Add the oil and when hot, tip in the ginger garlic paste and onions. Mix and saute till the onions become soft.
Now, add the ground spices and salt. Mix and saute for 20 secs. Add the tomatoes next, stir well and cook till they are mushy. Turn off the Saute mode.
To replace the fresh spinach with frozen spinach in this recipe, you will need 1.5 pounds of frozen spinach cubes. Add the spinach cubes, cashews and 1 cup water.
Ensure that the sealing ring has been fitted well into the IP lid. Close the IP. Turn the valve to SEALING. Switch on PRESSURE COOK mode on HIGH for 0 minutes.
Allow cooking cycle to complete. As soon as the cooking is complete, do a quick pressure release by turning the valve to VENTING.
Now, use an immersion blender and blend everything to a smooth puree. Turn on SAUTE mode for 5 mins. Add thawed paneer and mix well. Simmer until Saute cycle is complete.
Swap Paneer with potatoes and make Aloo Palak. To make Instant Pot Aloo Palak, add boiled potatoes instead of paneer and simmer. Just as delicious and vegan too!
Vegan Palak Paneer
To make this vegan, use tofu in place of paneer. Just make sure to press out the tofu well. Sauté it in oil for 3 to 4 mins on medium heat until edges become golden. Add the sautéed tofu to the spinach base and simmer. Your vegan Palak Paneer is ready.
Using this spinach curry base, you can make so many versions by switching the veggies. Corn or blanched corn is a great option too.
Instant Pot Saag Paneer
To make the best Saag Paneer, use a combination of 200 grams Sarson ka Saag, 200 grams Spinach, 100 grams Bathua and 2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves and cilantro leaves. Add this with 1 cup water and proceed with the recipe as usual.
Traditionally, maize flour is used to thicken Saag Paneer. So you can skip the cashews. Add the maize flour just before blending the cooked greens. Then blend to a smooth puree using the immersion blender. Add the paneer cubes and mix well. Simmer. Delicious Instant Pot Saag Paneer is ready.
If you are looking for Instant Pot Saag, just skip the paneer. I love this more than the Saag Paneer!
The next time someone asks “how do you make Palak Paneer?”, tell them “In my Instant Pot.” Because this electric pressure cooker version is simply the easiest and best Palak Paneer recipe.
How to freeze Palak Paneer?
The spinach curry base in this recipe can easily be frozen. If you plan to freeze it, skip adding the paneer. After blending the spinach to a smooth puree, simmer the mixture for 3 minutes.
When done, allow it to cool completely. Divide the cooled spinach puree into small 1.5 cup portions and freeze in freezer-safe containers. Always sterilize your containers before transferring food into them.
You can use this frozen Spinach curry base to make Palak Paneer, Aloo Palak or Palak corn. To make Palak Paneer with the frozen portions, allow the frozen spinach base to thaw fully.
Add this to a sauce pan and simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes. When done, add fresh paneer cubes, stir well and just simmer for 2 minutes on medium flame. Follow the same procedure to make Aloo Palak or Palak corn. Add boiled potatoes or corn instead of paneer.
Clean, sort and pick the spinach leaves. Wash well. Set aside. Thaw the frozen paneer cubes by placing them in hot boiling water. When they become soft, drain them well. Use the drained water to knead Chapati dough or in your stews and soups.
Making Instant Pot Palak Paneer
Insert the inner pot into the Instant Pot. Turn on SAUTE MODE on NORMAL for 7 minutes. Wait for the display to read HOT.
When ready, add oil. Tip in the cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Now, add the finely chopped onions and ginger garlic paste. Mix well and saute the onions until they turn soft and pink.
Now, add the ground spices and Kasuri Methi. Mix well and cook for just 20 seconds. Immediately, tip in the finely chopped tomatoes. Stir well to combine and continue to cook till tomatoes are mushy.
Add 1 cup water and salt. Place the washed spinach leaves into the pot. Add the cashews next. Press CANCEL.
Pressure cooking spinach
Ensure that the sealing ring has been fitted well into the IP lid. Close the Instant pot and turn the VALVE to SEALING.
Press PRESSURE COOK MODE on HIGH PRESSURE for 2 minutes. Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes and then do a QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE by turning the VALVE to VENTING.
Open the lid and stir the cooked mixture well.
Blending and simmering
Using an immersion blender, blend the cooked spinach mixture to a smooth puree. Now, press SAUTE MODE- 3 minutes.
Add the thawed paneer cubes and stir well to combine. Simmer till the Saute Cycle completes.
Heat a small pan with 2 teaspoon oil. Switch off the flame immediately. Now, crushed Kasuri Methi and paprika to the oil. Add this mixture to the Palak Paneer and serve immediately.
More recipes with spinach
Instant Pot Palak Paneer
- Instant Pot 6 quart
- Immersion blender
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1.5 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
- 1.25 teaspoon paprika
- 1.5 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon garam masala
- 1.25 teaspoon Kosher salt or to taste
- 1 cup water
- 400 grams cleaned spinach
- 10 raw cashews
- 300 grams thawed paneer cubes or fresh paneer cubes
- 2 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1.5 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
- Clean, sort and pick the spinach leaves.
- Wash well. Set aside.
- Thaw the frozen paneer cubes by placing them in hot boiling water.
- When they become soft, drain them well.
Making Instant Pot Palak Paneer
- Insert the inner pot into the Instant Pot.
- Turn on SAUTE MODE on NORMAL for 7 minutes.
- Wait for the display to read HOT.
- When ready, add oil.
- Tip in the cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle.
- Now, add the finely chopped onions and ginger garlic paste.
- Mix well and saute the onions until they turn soft and pink.
- Now, add the ground spices and Kasuri Methi.
- Mix well and cook for just 20 seconds.
- Immediately, tip in the finely chopped tomatoes.
- Stir well to combine and continue to cook till tomatoes are mushy.
- Add 1 cup water and salt.
- Place the washed spinach leaves into the pot.
- Add the cashews next.
- Press CANCEL.
Pressure cooking spinach
- Ensure that the sealing ring has been fitted well into the IP lid.
- Close the Instant pot and turn the VALVE to SEALING.
- Press PRESSURE COOK MODE on HIGH PRESSURE for 2 minutes.
- Allow the cooking cycle to complete.
- When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes.
- Now, do a QUICK PRESSURE RELEASE by turning the VALVE to VENTING.
- Press CANCEL.
- Open the lid and stir the cooked mixture well.
Blending and simmering
- Using an immersion blender, blend the cooked spinach mixture to a smooth puree.
- Now, press SAUTE MODE- 3 minutes.
- Add the thawed paneer cubes and stir well to combine.
- Simmer till the Saute Cycle completes.
- Heat a small pan with 2 teaspoon oil.
- Switch off the flame immediately.
- Now, add ½ tablespoon crushed Kasuri Methi and 1 teaspoon paprika to the oil.
- Add this mixture to the Palak Paneer and serve immediately.
- Nutritional values are given here as a courtesy and are only a rough estimate.
- Instant pot timings may vary based on the geographical location.
- 1 cup= 250 ml.
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