Palak paneer that takes minutes to make!
I am sharing the EASIEST palak paneer recipe with you guys – and it is perfection. It’s delicious, tastes like the real deal, and is literally a dump and go recipe.
How is this possible? Two words:
Yup! It’s all thanks to my handy dandy pre-made onion masala! I tell you, onion masala is magic. It’s the answer to eating homemade Indian food on busy weeknights. It’s how you can whip up a meal for guests at the very last minute. Onion masala can basically work food miracles.
If you haven’t heard about this stuff, then I’m guessing you’re a new reader – if so, read all about onion masala here. I share recipes here on the blog that call for exact amounts of onion masala, which you can make in bulk in advance. You can check out some of my onion masala recipes here.
I think most of the comments, emails, and DMs I get these days are about how this masala is changing your lives, lol (seriously). It really is a game-changer. Since having my second little dude, the only Indian food I make these days is with my previously frozen pucks of masala. No time or energy to cook down onions and tomatoes daily… besides, who wants to do that anyway, right?
What is Palak Paneer?
Palak paneer is a popular north Indian dish that you’ll find on every Indian restaurant’s menu. Palak means spinach, and Paneer means cheese. Paneer is typically called “Indian cottage cheese” and is also known as “farmer’s cheese” in the US. You can definitely make your own paneer at home (I know, I know. I need to share a recipe for that), but I almost always buy store-bought paneer. It’s just a lot more convenient – my Costco sells 2 huge packs of Gopi Paneer for a great price – I usually freeze one pack as soon as I buy it, and it lasts for a long time.
Palak Paneer vs Saag
Palak paneer is similar to saag, so if you’re a fan of my instant pot saag recipe, then you will love this one too! There are differences between these two recipes.
Saag can be made with any greens/a mix of greens, whereas this is a “palak saag” – made with just spinach (palak means spinach). Also, in my Punjabi saag recipe, I don’t use any tomatoes. For this palak saag, I’m using my onion masala, which has tomatoes.
Both are great in their own way – so if you try them both, you’ll have to let me know what you think!
To make Paneer:
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil if pan-frying
- 1 block of paneer or desired amount, cut into cubes
- Add the rinsed spinach to the instant pot, then place the frozen cubes of onion masala on top along with the spices.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 2 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- Remove the lid and use an immersion blender to puree the contents of the pot.
- Stir in heavy cream if desired – you can use as much or as little as you’d like (this will also lighten the color and be more “restaurant style”). Or top with ghee instead.
- Taste the palak and adjust salt to your preference.
- You can stir the cubes of paneer directly into the palak on sauté mode until the paneer is warmed through OR you can take an extra step and pan-fry the paneer separately.
To Pan-Fry Paneer:
- Heat ghee/oil in pan and add the paneer cubes in a single layer. Shallow fry them on all sides until golden brown, adding more oil if needed (I find it easiest to do this in a non-stick pan. If using stainless you will need more oil).
- Mix the paneer into the palak and enjoy!
- Make sure to rinse the spinach even if it is pre-washed. The little bit of water clinging to the leaves is enough to get the instant pot to start. Do not add more water to this! The spinach leaves will also release water as the pot comes to pressure. If you add water, the dish will be way too watery, trust me. I’ve tested this palak paneer many times in my instant pot and it always turns out perfect!