Instant Pot

Archana Mundhe's Instant Pot Palak Paneer

October 12, 2018
13 Ratings
Photo by Colin Price
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Reprinted with permission from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, copyright © 2018 by Archana Mundhe. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photograph copyright © 2018 by Colin Price.

I call this dish 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. To serve this dish gluten-free, omit the parathas. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 9 Instant Pot Indian Recipes for Rich, Comforting Flavor Fast. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 15 raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup whole or low-fat milk, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced hot green chile
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 pound fresh baby spinach or frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cups water
  • 2 cups cubed paneer, in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups cooked rice, for serving
  • 4 parathas, for serving
  1. In a blender, combine the cashews and milk and blend until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.
  2. Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee. Add the cumin seeds directly to the hot ghee at the bottom edges of the pot and cook until they start to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add the onion, green chile, garlic, and ginger and sauté until onion begins to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and salt, pour in 1/2 cup of the water, and stir well with a wooden spoon, nudging loose any browned bits from the pot bottom.
  3. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 1 minute for frozen spinach, or 0 (zero) minutes for fresh spinach, at high pressure.
  4. Perform a quick release by moving the Pressure Release to Venting. Open the pot. Select the low Sauté setting to stop the spinach puree from spattering. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth, adding the remaining 1/2 cup water if needed to achieve your desired consistency. Stir in the cashew paste and paneer and cook until the mixture comes to a gentle boil, incorporating the flavors and heating through, about 2 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
  5. Ladle into a serving bowl immediately, so the spinach stops cooking and maintains a fresh color, and serve with the rice and hot parathas.
  6. Vegan variation: Substitute neutral vegetable oil for the ghee, water for the milk, and extra-firm tofu for the paneer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bhilz
  • rlsalvati
  • Mary Ann
    Mary Ann
  • Emma

8 Reviews

rlsalvati November 3, 2020
Very good, even with a few switches to allow for what I had available. I did not use cashews, I prefer to eat these out of hand. I used whole milk + a bit of butter. Next time I have cashew butter in house I intend to try it with this. Ground cumin instead of seeds. No fresh hot chili in the house, I just used some chili powder.

Loved the vibrant color! This will go in my regular rotation. My first time using paneer at home. I found mine in the frozen section of the local international grocery. Another comment noted a chalky taste, I found it chalky at first but after several minutes in the sauce on low heat this went away.
Mary A. April 7, 2019
I used this recipe as a jumping off point for dinner, since I didn't have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I was very pleased with the results. Here's what I did.
Sautée all the veggies, and spices (substituted powdered cumin for seeds) in walnut oil, adding the spinach and garlic last to just wilt the spinach. Substituted a sweet bell pepper for the hot Chili pepper .
Purée 1 CUP cashews with water until very smooth., then add the sautéed veggies, 1 heaping teaspoon tahini and purée everything together.
Return to pan to heat everything through,
I served this over mashed cauliflower.
(Steam a cut up cauliflower and one large cut up potato in a saucepan with about three inches of salted water until very soft. Drain most of the water. Use some of it it for the cashews. Mash the cauliflower and potatoes.
Emma March 8, 2019
Help! This sounds great. But I a small town in SD and for sure won't be able.ti find paneer here. So sad. Is there a substitute or a way I can myself (easily.enpugh with limited access.ti ingredients)? I can try to make green curry (thank you Google, but would love help with a recipe). Sadly I also can’t get lemongrass, Thai egg plants, or kaffir limes, or Thai basil. 🙄 Small town living. Any chance you can help with substitutes! TIA!!!
Lilly N. March 10, 2019
You can make it yourself with simple ingredients - whole milk and either lemon juice or vinegar. Just google how to make paneer and you should find multiple recipes. Plus the flavors tend to be much better than store bought.
J. November 15, 2020
Use Wildwood high protein tofu. Works great!
bhilz March 7, 2019
Would it be a little more streamlined to add the cooked spinach and spices to the cashew/milk paste in the blender to puree? If the blender's already being used, might as well take advantage instead of getting the immersion blender dirty too. Then add everything back to the pot w/ paneer and heat through. Will try this approach and see how it goes.
J. January 1, 2019
This was very good! I used fresh spinach and had to add an extra 1/4c water to get enough liquid to use an immersion blender in the 8qt IP.

Alterations I made: half and half instead of cashews and milk, a whole serrano pepper, extra firm tofu instead of panee.
Fiona December 16, 2018
The paneer tastes chalky: I suspect it would be better if you fried it first, alhough that would add more time and dishes . My spinach didn't thaw all the way in the suggested cooking time, so I had to put it back in. And the cashews just spattered all around the blender. I had to take them out and grind them in a spice grinder, then mix with the milk.