Friday, September 11, 2015

Saag Paneer in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite vegetables have been cooked greens: spinach, Swiss chard, whatever. Naturally, when I discovered Indian food somewhere along the way, I fell in love with Palak Paneer (spinach with spices and Indian cheese) and Saag Paneer (mustard or other greens instead of all spinach). Since being diagnosed with an allergy to red/green/yellow pepper, I've been unable to walk past Indian restaurants and those pre-made foil packets at Trader Joe's without getting a little sad. 

I've searched for recipes online, but they all had a goodly amount of red or green pepper in one form or another, until finally I found this beautiful Saag recipe from She only uses a little bit of cayenne, so much of the heat comes from the ginger and I felt confident enough to make it work despite my minimal understanding of Indian spices. And it's made in my nifty new Instant Pot! It was meant to be, I tell you. 

Further adaptation was required to incorporate the paneer and to make up for the fact that the (red pepper-free) Garam Masala I found at the market somehow didn't make it home with me. I had all the Masala ingredients individually, so I added the ones that weren't included already and bumped up the ones that were. 

Get everything together: 

1 lb spinach, rinsed well
1 lb mustard leaves, rinsed
2 Tbsp ghee, butter or oil
2 small onions
2-in piece fresh ginger
4 small garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp coriander
1 1/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
Optional: 1/2 tsp cayenne, or more or less to taste (if you can't find or don't have fresh ginger, you can use 1/2 tsp ground)

for the paneer:
1 Tbsp oil
1 more tsp turmeric
1 pkg (about 14 oz) paneer (Indian cheese available at may markets and specialty stores)

Chop the onions and ginger and plug in the Instant Pot. Press the saute button. Once the display says "hot", add the ghee or butter and the onions and ginger, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened and getting translucent. 

In the meantime, mince the garlic and measure the spices into a cup. When they're ready to be added, move the onion/ginger mix to the side for a few seconds and let the spices hit the pan directly before stirring into the rest. 

Spices, salt and garlic ready to be added. 

Saute the spices and the onion for about a minute, then add the spinach leaves. Stir until they wilt enough to fit in the mustard green leaves. 

You could also do all spinach or all mustard greens, or replace some with kale or chard. 

You don't need to add any liquid. The liquid released from the greens will cook the whole thing. Miraculous, no? 

Press Keep Warm/Cancel to turn off the saute function, and then put the lid on. 

Lock the lid with the pressure valve turned to the pressure setting. 

Press the Poultry button (this piece of genius brought to you straight from Ashley at and let the pot do its thing. 

In the meantime, cut the paneer into 1 inch cubes and toss with the Tbsp oil, 1 tsp turmeric and 1 tsp fine salt. Let sit for a few minutes, then saute on the stove just until golden. 

Let the pressure release naturally (push the Keep Warm/Cancel button when the time is up). When the valve lowers, remove the lid and puree the greens with a stick blender, a regular blender, or a food processor. If the greens are too watery, add some potato starch or a slurry of cornstarch and cold liquid to thicken it up a bit. 

Stir in the paneer and serve with basmati rice or whole wheat naan. If you enjoy it half as much as I do, you'll be very happy. 


  1. Hi, going to try to make this today. The ingredients picture shows a jar of ground cloves, but the recipe does not call for it.Did you include ground cloves? If so how much? Thank you.

    1. Hi- sorry, tried to reply via gmail earlier. Hope you got it. I'm a little ambivalent about cloves because they can easily overpower things. If you add it, add just a pinch or maybe 1/4 tsp. Thanks for your question!

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