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!
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 are 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. Check out my homemade paneer recipe.
How to Store Paneer?
Homemade Paneer can be refrigerated up to a week and can be frozen for extended shelf life. If buying paneer from a store, I usually cut it 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 stove top 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 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, 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, 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. Then quick release the pressure right away to avoid overcooking of the spinach. Add 1/2 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).
To make a 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 party, movie/game night or kids 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 vegetables curry
- Baingan Bharta – Roasted eggplant cooked in onions, garlic and spices
Instant Pot Palak Paneer
- 1 lb spinach baby spinach works the best, or use chopped frozen
- 2 cups paneer cubed
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
- 1 to 2 teaspoon hot green chili minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger grated
- 15 raw cashews
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 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 chopped spinach, salt and 1 cup of water. Close IP with pressure valve to sealing.
- For frozen spinach – Manual(Hi) for 1 minute
- For fresh spinach – Manual(Hi) for 0 minutes
- Quick-release and turn off the Instant Pot
- Add ½ cup of water(optional) and blend to make a smooth paste using an immersion blender. Add cashew paste, garam masala, and paneer. Gently stir everything together and cook on sauté mode for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve hot with rice or parathas. For a low carb option serve with caulilfower rice
PRO tips to keep the palak paneer looking green and fresh:
- 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 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, 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