Turn on Saute mode. Wait for 30-40 seconds for it to get hot. Add oil, panch puran seeds and bay leaf. Sauté for 30 seconds, until the seeds begin to sizzle.
Add ginger, garlic and serrano chilies and sauté for another 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes, followed by salt, turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin, garam masala, chaat masala, and stir. Saute for another minute. If the spices begin to stick, add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir.
Add Vegetables, Rice & Paneer
Add onion, bell pepper and vinegar. Stir and sauté for 1 minute.
Add cilantro, pickle (if using), paneer, drained rice and water, and stir well to scrape off any brown bits stuck at the bottom. Close the lid and pressure cook on High for 6 minutes (sealing mode).
When the cooking time is done, carefully release pressure manually by moving the pressure knob to 'venting' in Duo models, or pushing it down in Ultra models.
Fluff, Garnish & Serve
Open the lid after the pin drops. Let the biryani sit uncovered for 5 minutes. After that, use a fork to fluff up the biryani. Garnish with the reserved cilantro and serve with pickled onions and raita.
Optional serving side: Instant Onion Pickle
In a mixing bowl, combine onions, vinegar, salt, black pepper and cayenne and toss well. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and serve.
Seek out Panch Puran for best results. This adds that distinctive zing factor! Look for it in Indian grocery stores or online. Alternatively, use ½ teaspoon each of cumin, mustard and fennel seeds.
Rinse the basmati rice for fluffier grains. This helps to remove any starches from the surface of the grain and prevents the rice from sticking together.
Adjust the spice level based on your tastebuds. The paneer biryani is less spicy than the avarage vegetable biryani. Make it even more mild by replacing the Kashmiri red chili powder with paprika or increase the spice level by adding another teaspoon garam masala and/or a touch of cayenne.
Add water along with the dry spices, if necessary. If the dry spices stick to the bottom of the pressure cooker, add 1-2 Tablespoons water and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Add a touch of Indian pickle juice, if desired. Scoop out a small teaspoon of the liquid from a jar of Indian pickles to really amp up this biryani's pickling flavor.
This recipe has been updated with process shots, recipe video and a few optional ingredient additions (Indian pickle, serrano), which enhance the flavors.If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.