I call this Palak Paneer Mommy's Helper because it is a surefire way to get nutrient-rich spinach into kids without a complaint. The flash-cooking method helps preserve the vitamins, flavor, and rich color of the spinach. Cumin seeds add a subtle earthiness, and the creamy texture of cashews is the perfect replacement for traditional heavy cream, as it seamlessly balances the pureed sauce.
Palak paneer makes a healthy weeknight meal and is ready in 15 minutes with this easy Instant Pot recipe. I love this one-pot recipe to cook the spinach and then use an immersion blender to puree the sauce making cleanup super easy. Serve with steamed rice for a gluten-free meal or with hot parathas for a wholesome vegetarian meal!
What is Paneer
Paneer is fresh, unsalted cheese that is similar to cottage cheese. Paneer is made by curdling milk using lemon juice or vinegar and then separating the whey. All the excess water from the curdled milk solids is pressed out and then shaped to form soft cheese. Paneer is not aged and can be consumed right away. It adds a nice texture to curries, parathas, rice dishes, and desserts. Here is a recipe that shows how to make paneer at home!
How to Store Paneer?
Homemade Paneer can be refrigerated for up to a week and can be frozen for extended shelf life. I usually cut the store-bought paneer into cubes and freeze any unused portions right away.
Where can I buy Paneer?
I would recommend Gopi Brand Paneer from Whole Foods, Costco, or Indian grocery stores. When buying Paneer make sure it does not have any additives. Remember milk and an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or vinegar are the only 2 ingredients needed to make paneer.
This quick Instant Pot recipe uses my mom's stovetop palak paneer recipe as a base. I stir in cashew cream, in the end, to make the curry rich and creamy. To make homemade cashew cream, simply blend cashews and warm milk (or water) to make a creamy, smooth paste.
NOTE: Heavy cream or unsweetened coconut cream can also be substituted for cashew cream.
PRO tips to keep the palak paneer looking green and fresh:
I often get questions on how my palak paneer looks vibrant green. Here are a few tips and tricks I always follow:
- Quick-release as soon as the pressure cooking cycle completes.
- Turn off the keep warm button as you do the quick release.
- Make sure that the Instant Pot is turned off as you puree with the immersion blender. Take the inside pot out on a hot plate while pureeing. As you may need to tilt the pot to avoid splattering.
- Return the inner pot back to the Instant Pot housing, and add cashew paste, garam masala, and paneer. Cook on sauté for 1 to 2 minutes only or until the gravy comes to a gentle boil.
- Turn off the Instant Pot and take the inner pot out and keep it on a hot plate to avoid overcooking the spinach.
How to make Instant Pot Palak Paneer (step-by-step recipe)
Blend cashews with milk or water to make a smooth puree and reserve. Heat oil in the Instant Pot and add cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and green chilies and sauté for a minute. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes or until they start to become translucent. Add fresh or frozen spinach, water, and salt. Pressure cook for zero minutes if using fresh spinach, or pressure cook for 1 minute if using frozen spinach (photos 1 - 2).
Turn the Instant Pot off, by pressing the keep warm button. Quick release the pressure right away to avoid overcooking the spinach. Add ½ cup of water and carefully blend the spinach using an immersion blender. You may want to tilt the pot a little to avoid splattering (photos 3 - 4).
Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode. Add cashew cream/paste, garam masala, and paneer. Mix and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the curry is just heated through. Take out the inner pot on a hot plate to avoid overcooking (photos 5 - 6).
How to store Palak Paneer
Any leftovers can be refrigerated for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze palak paneer for up to 2 months. To reheat simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in the microwave.
Love spinach? Here are some of our favorite Indian Spinach Recipes:
- Spinach Khichri - Healthy one-pot meal cooked with rice, lentils, and lots of creamy spinach spiced with cumin, green chili, and a hint of garam masala.
- Spinach Dal - A staple in Indian homes, these creamy lentils are cooked in warm spices such as cumin, turmeric, and garlic and packed with fresh spinach.
- Chana Saag - Curried chickpeas cooked with spinach in a tangy onion-tomato-based sauce that is perfectly spiced with turmeric, cumin seeds, and garam masala.
- Spinach Sev - Crunchy savory snack made with gluten-free gram flour that is quick to make and utterly delicious as a snack or party starter.
To make an Indian Vegetarian Thali Meal here are my recommended recipes to make with Palak Paneer:
- Dum Aloo - curried baby potatoes in a tomato-based sauce
- Roti - thin rolled whole wheat Indian bread
- Dal & Rice - easy spinach dal with poi in pot rice cooked in the Instant Pot
- Cabbage Curry - quick and easy stir-fried cabbage
- Kothimbir Vadi - spicy cilantro cakes that can be made ahead and pan-fried when ready to eat
- Beet Raita - Cooling yogurt-based raita with cucumbers and beets
- Mango Shrikhand - You always need a sweet dish with Indian meals and this one needs no cooking
The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook includes many such complete meal ideas for occasions like Indian parties, movie/game nights, or kid's parties!
Did you enjoy this easy recipe? Here are some more Indian curries to try at home in addition to my go-to weeknight vegetarian Instant Pot Indian recipes:
- Aloo Gobhi - Spiced cauliflower and potato curry
- Dum Aloo - Curried baby potatoes in creamy tomato sauce
- Chana Saag - Chickpeas with fresh spinach
- Spicy Misal Pav - Spicy sprouted bean curry
- Easy Chickpea Curry - Chickpeas with authentic Punjabi flavors
- Vegetable Kurma - Mixed vegetable curry
- Baingan Bharta - Roasted eggplant cooked in onions, garlic, and spices
Instant Pot Palak Paneer
- 15 raw cashews **
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 to 2 teaspoon hot green chili minced
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
- 1 lb spinach baby spinach works the best, or use chopped frozen
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups paneer cubed
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Add cashews to milk and blend together to make a smooth paste. Keep aside. Note: Double up milk and cashews if your blender blades are not low and if the paste does not turn out smooth. Making a larger portion can help with bigger blender jars and you can freeze the extra for next time.
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute mode and heat ghee. Add cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and green chili. Saute for a minute. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes stirring a few times. Add spinach, salt, and water. Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing.
- For frozen spinach - Pressure cook on (Hi) for 1 minute
- For fresh spinach - Pressure cook on (Hi) for 0 minute
- Quick-release and turn off the Instant Pot
- Quick-release as soon as the pressure cooking cycle completes
- Turn off the keep warm button as you do the quick release
- Make sure that the Instant Pot is turned off as you are pureeing with the immersion blender. Take the inside pot out on a hot plate while pureeing. As you may need to tilt the pot to avoid splattering
- Return the inner pot back to the Instant Pot housing, and add cashew paste, garam masala, and paneer. Cook on sauté for 1 to 2 minutes only or until the gravy comes to a gentle boil
- Turn off the Instant Pot and take the inner pot out and keep it on a hot plate to avoid overcooking the spinach