Paneer Tikka Masala is the king of vegetarian dishes in the north-Indian cuisine. It’s hard to find an Indian restaurant around the world, which doesn’t feature this, or a variation of this classic. As the name suggests, it is the vegetarian alternative to ‘Chicken Tikka Masala‘, only more delicious!!
There are many variations of this recipe. Dishes like Butter Paneer Masala, Paneer Makhani, Paneer Pasanda, Paneer Lababdar and so on. They are all variations of this recipe and have a similar flavor profile.
Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! This recipe is an adaptation of my go-to Biryani recipe. Biryani is a popular Indian rice casserole, where long grain basmati rice is cooked with meat or vegetables in Indian spices. I use the same recipe, but replace Basmati rice with Quinoa. I add vegetables and paneer (Indian cottage cheese), adding more protein and vitamins to this dish. Fresh herbs like mint and cilantro add a fresh and floral contrast to the earthy flavors of Biryani Masala. Nuts like almonds and cashews add richness and texture to the rice. I serve it with a side of Cucumber Raita (Yogurt dip), and enjoy a healthy and complete meal in less than 20 minutes.
Even though my family’s love for the classic biryani stands intact, this dish is my effort to introduce a healthier Biryani recipe, so we can enjoy is more often. And the result is simply delicious. It’s quick to make, cooks at lightning speed in my Instant Pot, so a big one-pot weeknight hit in my family!
This dish brings together the best of both worlds- Achaari Paneer and Biryani. Achaari paneer is a popular Indian vegetarian dish where paneer cubes (Indian cottage cheese), are cooked with pickling spices, giving the dish a subtle pickle-like zing. Biryani, on the other hand, is flavorful rice cooked with spiced meat or vegetables. In this dish, I merged these two favorites and created Achaari Paneer Biryani!
This dish is milder than your average vegetable biryani, so if you want to bump up the spice level, increase the garam masala and by another teaspoon. This quick and easy, super delicious meal has become one of our weeknight staples! Add more vegetables to it, like carrots, beans, potato, and you have yourself a delicious Vegetable & Paneer Biryani!
This biryani can be enjoyed with cucumber raita (yoghurt dip), or with a quick onion relish. You can make the onion relish by mixing together sliced onions, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne!
In this video, I’ve made this Biryani in my 3 Qt Instant Pot, but it can be made in any pressure cooker, or on the stove-top too. Check out Notes section, for stove-top details.
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or juice of 1/2 a lime
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
INSTANT ONION PICKLE: (Optional)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Prep: Slice onion and bell pepper, cube paneer and keep aside. Rinse rice and soak in warm water for 20 minutes.
Turn on Instant pot on SAUTE. When hot, add oil. Add panch phoran seeds and sauté for 30 seconds. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes followed by all dry spices and stir. Add onion, bell pepper and vinegar. Stir and sauté for 1 minute. Add drained rice, paneer, water and stir well. Close lid. Vent set to SEALING. Cook on MANUAL for 6 minutes.
Open lid after natural pressure release (NPR), fluff rice gently with a fork. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
Instant Onion Pickle: Mix together all ingredients under "Instant Onion Pickle". Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Ready to serve!
STOVE TOP: In a deep sauce pan or a wide skillet, follow all instructions. Add 1.5 cups water and cook covered for 8 minutes on medium heat.
Palak Paneer is a popular North Indian Punjabi curry made by cooking soft paneer (Indian cottage cheese), in a healthy and tasty spinach based gravy. The pureed spinach provides a creamy base for this flavorful curry, which is cooked with fresh onions, ginger garlic, tomato and seasoned with garam masala, coriander and cumin. It is rich in flavor and is a staple in all Indian restaurants. This is my mom’s famous recipe — which means it’s wicked good! Another quick ‘n’ easy 30-minute meal from my family to yours!
Variations: Palak / Spinach Tofu (Vegan) or Chicken
You can make this recipe Vegan by swapping out the paneer with Extra-Firm Tofu.
Alternatively, you can switch out the paneer and add chicken instead, and make Palak Chicken. If using chicken, use boneless skinless breast or thighs, cut in 1 inch pieces and add it to the pot in step 1, before closing the lid. When done, wait for 5 minutes and release the pressure. Remove chicken pieces after pressure cooking and then add the spinach. Continue with the rest of the instructions. Add the chicken back after pureeing the spinach curry.
I made this recipe in my Instant Pot 6 Qt, but it can be made on a stove-top too. Check out “Stove-top” instructions below.
Heat a deep sauce pan on medium high heat. Since spinach puree tends to splash when simmering, using a deep sauce pan prevents it from messing the cooktop.
Add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Sliced onion and green chili go in now, sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes, salt and dry spices and stir well. Then, add 1/2 cup water, stir, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
Open the lid and add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining spinach and wilt for around 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a hand blender puree the spinach mix.
Turn on heat to medium, add paneer cubes and simmer for 30 sec- 1 min, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn off the heat. Stir in butter, this adds a silky smooth finish to the sauce, and gives it a gorgeous shine. Add the sugar and stir. This is optional and totally a personal preference. Serve Palak Paneer warm, with Jeera rice/Cumin Rice, Toor Dal, or store-bought Naan, or Roti. Enjoy!
Tip for Pureeing Spinach Without Painting your Kitchen Green 🙂
Hand Blenders are great when you want to puree a sauce and get a velvety smooth finish. But, unless the quantity is enough to submerge the blender-head in the sauce, they tend to splash the sauce all over. To avoid that, I transfer the spinach mix to a tall measuring cup, or the jar that came with my hand blender set. I puree the spinach in that and there are no splashes at all.
1/4teaspoonamchur(dry mango powder) or 1 teaspoon lemon juice at the end
Turn on the Instant Pot on SAUTE. Wait 30 seconds for it to heat up. Add oil and cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Add sliced onion and green chili, and sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes, sauté for 30 seconds. Add salt and dry spices and stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and stir. Close the lid. Set pressure valve to SEALING. Cook on MANUAL for 3 minutes.
Release the pressure immediately (QR). Turn on SAUTE. Add 1/2 bag of baby spinach and stir to wilt. add the remaining bag and cook till spinach leaves soften, around 2 minutes. Turn off IP. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the spinach mix. I prefer to use the food processor to avoid splatters of spinach.
Pour the spinach puree back in IP. Turn on SAUTE. Add paneer cubes and stir for 30 seconds- 1 minute, till paneer cubes become soft. Turn IP off. Stir in sugar and butter, this brings the dish to life and gives it a shine. Serve hot with zeera rice or naan. Enjoy!
Palak Paneer in Instant Pot
Amount Per Serving
Calories 198Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 7g35%
Total Carbohydrates 7g2%
Dietary Fiber 2g8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.