Vegetable and Paneer Biryani is a complete meal with grains, vegetables, and protein. It begins with a base of caramelized onions, then builds layers of flavors with aromatic long-grain basmati rice and a combination of vegetables cooked to tender perfection. Each bite is infused with delicately balanced whole spices and a bold finish with garam masala.
I have been trying to perfect my veg biryani in the Instant Pot for months now. After the success of my easy InstaPot Chicken Biryani recipe in just a few tries, I was surprised to see how different it was to cook vegetable Biryani in the pressure cooker.
Although I was using the same rice and similar spices, it took many failed attempts (mushy rice, undercooked rice, mushy veggies etc) before I got the technique right. The key was to choose the right kind of vegetables and also more importantly cut them right so they all cook within 5 to 6 mins of pressure cooking time.
This simple Biryani recipe is inspired from my mom’s famous vegetable pulav recipe. She cuts her veggies in a certain size and shape, which I thought was to make the dish look gorgeous. But now I understand that it also helps them cook perfectly each time.
The same trick of cutting the veggies and choosing the right ones, helped me with this easy vegetable biryani recipe. Then my talented cousin gave me an idea of adding Paneer to this dish which really took the Biryani to a whole new level.
If you’re like me and enjoy cooking vegetarian dishes you must check out my 60+ vegetarian main meals or bookmark it for later.
To make the best and authentic tasting biryani make sure to use homemade ghee, choose the right vegetables or organic frozen mixed vegetables and long grain basmati rice. The whole spices and the homemade garam masala will do its magic to add beautiful aromas and bring this delectable recipe together.
Tips for perfect Vegetable Biryani in the Instant Pot:
- Use fresh garam masala
- Deglaze the pot using the liquids from the vegetables to remove any browned bits from sautéing of the onions. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure and also prevent “BURN” signal
- Make sure all of the rice is under the liquids before closing the Instant Pot
- Lastly, although, Sauté (more) function on the Instant Pot works great for true one pot cooking, you can also caramelize the onions using stove top in a non-stick pan. This will speed up the process and also will prevent the stainless steel insert getting scorched which may lead to “BURN” notice on the newer Instant Pot’s
Update to my original recipe:
Certain brands of store bought paneer can get chewy when cooked in high pressure. So I have modified the cook times for this recipe to 5 minutes on low pressure. Note: If your Instant Pot does not have the HI/LO pressure cook options, you can cook the biryani on high pressure and then gently stir in the paneer in the end.
Step by step instructions to make vegetable biryani in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker:
Step 1 – Rinse and soak the rice in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain water after 20 mins. Set the Instant Pot to Sauté (more) mode and heat 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add thinly sliced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized. Take half of the onions out and reserve for garnish (photos 1 – 2).
Step 2 – Add remaining ghee, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, bay leaves. Cook for 30 seconds. Add all the veggies (carrots, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, corn, paneer). Press cancel and deglaze the pot removing any browning. Use 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed. See the third picture below that shows how the bottom of the pot looks after properly deglazing. There should not be any browned bits stuck to the bottom (photos 3 – 4)
Step 3 – Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and 1 teaspoon of salt. mix well. Add mint, rice and 2 teaspoons salt. Add 2 cups of water. Mix well, making sure most of the rice is under water (photos 5 – 8)
Step 4 – Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Select Manual/Pressure Cook(LO) and adjust the cook time to 5 minutes. Follow with quick release to stop overcooking the rice. Open the Instant Pot. Garnish with caramelized onions and cilantro.
Have last minute guests? Make one of these 30+ easy desserts and you will have a delicious meal.
Commonly asked questions
Yes, can be doubled in 6-QT or 8 QT Instant Pots
Store bought paneer can become chewy after pressure cooking. Here are few options: 1. Adjust pressure cook time to 5 minutes on low pressure mode. 2. Sauté the paneer in a non-stick pan and add it to the Biryani in the end 3.Use homemade Paneer.
Press cancel before adding all the veggies. This will stop the pot from further overheating as you remove the browning from the bottom of the pot. Then add the veggies and deglaze the pot using the water contents from the veggies so that all the browning from sautéing the onions is removed. You can also use 1 to 2 tablespoons of water to remove the browning.
Yes. Follow same recipe. No need to soak the quinoa. Just rinse thoroughly and drain all the water before adding it to the pot.
Yes. Substitute ghee with oil. Skip Paneer or stir in sautéed tofu in the end.
I have tried to explain the sizes of the veggies, but do see the video here so you get a better idea!
Do you love Indian food? Here are my top Instant Pot Indian Recipes other people have enjoyed:
- Easy Chicken Tikka Masala – Creamy tomato based curry with chicken marinated in yogurt, red chili powder, turmeric and garam masala
- Healthy “Butter” Chicken – Flavorful chicken in a creamy sauce with orangish hue from the red chili powder and turmeric
- Spicy Misal Pav – A popular Indian dish made with spicy sprouted bean curry served with lightly buttered dinner rolls
- Tandoori Salmon – Tender, flaky salmon cooked in warm tandoori spices
- Easy Shrimp Curry – Tender-sweet shrimp lightly spiced with aromatic whole spices and a tropical flavors from coconut milk
- Chicken Korma – A mild and healthy chicken curry cooked in whole spices and then braised in a yogurt-based sauce
- Kheema Pulao – A flavor-packed one-pot meal with fragrant long grain basmati rice cooked in ground chicken and aromatic-warm whole spices
- Madras Lentils/Daal Makhani – A creamy lentil dish cooked with whole black lentils and kidney beans, lightly spiced
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- 2 cups long grain basmati rice
- 3 tablespoons ghee divided
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 whole green cardamom
- 4 cloves
- 8-10 whole black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup carrots chopped lengthwise into 1 inch x 1/4 inch strips
- 1 cup green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup white mushrooms halved
- 1/2 cup red pepper chopped into 1 inch x 1/2 inch strips
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1 cup paneer cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 tablespoon ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 3 teaspoons salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh mint chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
Rinse and soak the rice in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain water after 20 mins.
Set the Instant Pot to Saute(More) mode and heat 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add sliced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized. Take half of the onions out and reserve for garnish.
Add remaining ghee, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, bay leaves. Cook for 30 seconds. Add all the veggies (carrots, green beans, mushrooms, red pepper, corn, paneer). Press cancel and deglaze the pot removing any browning. Use 1-2 tablespoons of water if needed. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and 1 teaspoon of salt. mix well. Add mint, rice and 2 teaspoons salt. Add 2 cups of water. Mix well, making sure most of the rice is under water.
Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Select Manual/Pressure Cook(Hi) and adjust the cook time to 6 minutes. Quick release. Open the Instant Pot. Garnish with caramelized onions and cilantro. Enjoy hot with Raita!
- Deglaze the pot after adding the vegetables to remove any browning in the pot from sautéing the onions. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure and also prevent the biryani from burning.
- You can make this recipe Vegan by using coconut oil instead of ghee and extra firm tofu instead of paneer
Additional NOTE: I have modified the cook time for this recipe to 5 minutes LO pressure cook as sometimes store bough paneer can get chewy when cooked in high pressure. If your Instant Pot does not HI/LO pressure cook options, you can cook this using the default/high pressure and then stir in the paneer in the end.
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