Instant Pot paneer masala is a creamy Indian curry for flatbreads. It is a make ahead recipe and works great for weeknight dinners and parties as well.
What is paneer?
Paneer is fresh Indian cottage cheese prepared by curdling milk. Milk particles are collected in a cheese cloth and pressed into a firm block of cheese. Depending on the recipe, paneer is cut into cubes for curries and appetizers, and crumbled to prepare delicious sweets.
It is easy to prepare paneer at home. However, nowadays decent quality paneer is available in Indian stores and in stores like Whole Foods.
About the recipe
Paneer masala is a cream curry with onion tomato almond base that is jazzed up with heavy cream or milk. Beauty of the curry is that the base is a make ahead curry base and stores well in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
The base stays fresh up to a week though I did not keep it that long. On the day of serving, heat up the curry with some oil or ghee, add cream or milk, paneer, simmer for a few minutes and voila, paneer masala is ready to serve!
How to serve?
Paneer masala pairs well with roti and Indian flatbreads but goes well even with jeera rice or any mildly flavored rice such as methi rice, hyacinth rice ~ anapaginjala annam, saffron rice or vegetable bagara.
Detailed, Printable Recipe
- Instant Pot
- ¼" Cinnamon
- 1 Clove
- ¼ teaspoon Cardamom seeds
- 1 ½ tablespoon blanched Almonds
- 1 – 1 ½ tablespoon Oil
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- ¾ – 1 cup chopped Onion less than 1 cup
- 1 ½ tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 cup chopped Tomato
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ¾ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste
- ½ – ¾ teaspoon Chili Powder adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 2 tablespoon Water to deglaze
- 1 ½ tablespoon Ghee or Oil
- ½ cup Water add more depending on the consistency
- ½ cup Milk 2%
- 1 tablespoon Kasuri Methi
- 250 grams Paneer cut into small cubes (I used Gopi Paneer)
- Grind all the ingredients under spice powder and keep aside.
Instant Pot Method
- Set Instant Pot (IP) to Saute mode.
- When the inner vessel is hot, add oil, cumin followed by onions and saute until light brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste and saute until raw smell of ginger is gone.
- Then add tomatoes, coriander, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, spice powder and cook until soft.
- Add 2 tablespoon of water to deglaze. Close the IP and pressure cook on ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ for 4 minutes and let pressure release naturally.
- Let the mixture cool.
- Cut paneer into cubes ½” cubes, about 40 cubes and bring water to a boil on a stove top. Turn off the flame and leave paneer cubes in hot boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Meantime, grind onion mixture to a fine paste. This paste is now ready to store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, if meal prepping.
- Set IP to ‘Saute”. Heat ghee and sauté the paste until oil begins to separate, about 3-5 minutes, add water and bring to a boil. Once IP is hot it will boil real quick, so keep an eye on it.
- Add kasuri methi, milk and give a quick stir.
- Add paneer and cook for 3-5 minutes until gravy thickens to desired consistency. Do not leave the inner pot in IP as the curry will continue to simmer.
- Transfer paneer masala to serving bowl, garnish with cilantro and serve with roti.
- Follow Instant Pot method steps but on stove top. Heat oil in a saucepan, add cumin, onions and saute until onions are light brown.
- Add ginger garlic paste and saute until smell is gone, then add tomatoes, coriander powder, chili powder, salt, turmeric powder, spice powder and cook until tomatoes are soft. Let the mixture cool and make a fine paste using some water.
- Transfer the paste to pan along with ghee cook and until oil begins to separate. Add water (will require more than half cup) and bring to boil, add milk.cream, kasuri methi, paneer and cook until flavors seep into panner and curry is done. Don't forget to put paneer in boiling water for 4 minutes before adding to the curry.
- Milk – I used 2% milk but fat free also works just fine. If you want to indulge, use half & half or cream or combination of cream and milk.
- Water – On stovetop you will need more than half a cup of water and adjust the water content to get the desired consistency of the curry.
- Paneer – I used 250 grams of paneer as I prefer more paneer. Ideal quantity is about 200 grams for this recipe.
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