Vegetable and Paneer Biryani – A classic Indian one pot meal that is full of flavors and aromas from whole spices, garam masala and the long grain basmati rice.
I have been trying to perfect my vegetable biryani in the Instant Pot for months now. After the success of my InstaPot Chicken Biryani recipe in just a few tries, I was surprised to see how much different it was to cook vegetable Biryani in the Instant Pot. 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 6 mins of pressure cooking time.
This 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 to 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.
Tips for perfect Vegetable Biryani in the Instant Pot :
- Use fresh garam masala. Homemade garam masala works the best!
- 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.
I have tried to explain the sizes of the veggies but do see the video so you get a better idea!
Here are some of the commonly asked questions and answers:
- Can the recipe be doubled? – Yes, can be doubled in 6-QT or 8 QT Instant Pots
- Why does my paneer become chewy? – 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.
- Why do I get BURN on my 8-QT? – 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.
- Can I use Quinoa instead of rice? – Yes. Follow same recipe. No need to soak the quinoa. Just rinse thoroughly and drain all the water before adding it to the pot.
- Can I make the Vegetable Biryani Dairy Free? – Yes. Substitute ghee with oil. Skip Paneer or stir in sautéed tofu in the end.
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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
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Hey there! I am a techie turned recipe developer, cooking instructor, and food blogger. I love food and enjoy developing easy and healthy recipes for busy lifestyles. I live New Jersey with my husband and two sons.