Saag Paneer is a classic Indian dish, a vegetarian main course that is hearty, filling, and flavorful. It’s essentially India’s version of creamed spinach, with the addition of cubes of Paneer cheese. But even if you’ve ordered it at Indian restaurants or as takeout a thousand times, have you ever tried to make it at home? And did you know that you could even make it in an Instant Pot?
You can, thanks to this quick and easy recipe from wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn. Unlike a lot of Instant Pot recipes, Hahn does not recommend trying this out in a slow cooker. "You are only flash cooking the spinach," she says. "I have done a recipe that just uses the stove top, which is what I would recommend if you don’t have an Instant Pot."
You may just be surprised at how quickly this recipe comes together. Try it once, and you’re sure to have a hit on your hands. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make this dish at home.
Gather your ingredients
To make this Instant Pot saag Paneer, you’ll need one red onion, three cloves of garlic, twelve ounces of baby spinach, and one bunch of Swiss chard. You can use mustard greens or kale instead of Swiss chard, although Hahn recommends Swiss chard.
When cooking Indian cuisine, using the right spices makes all the difference. For this recipe, you’ll need one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon coriander, one teaspoon of cumin powder, one teaspoon of cumin seeds, one teaspoon of ground ginger, one teaspoon of garam masala, a half teaspoon of turmeric, and a half teaspoon of paprika.
You’ll also need one tablespoon of oil. Saag paneer is traditionally made with ghee, also known as clarified butter, but Hahn uses oil instead. "I have found that oil works just as well, and most people always have that in the house," she says. "I always use avocado oil when cooking at high heat because it has a high smoke point. It is definitely my oil of choice with the Instant Pot because you are taking the heat pretty high."
Last but certainly not least, you’ll need eight ounces of Paneer cheese. This is a fresh cheese that doesn’t need to be aged at all, so while you can buy it at the store, if you’re feeling up for a little extra DIY, you can actually make it yourself as well.
Prep your ingredients and start cooking
Chop the red onion, mince the garlic cloves, and chop the Paneer cheese into cubes. Remove the stems from the Swiss chard, kale, or mustard greens and wash. Mix all the spices together except the cumin seeds, and set aside.
Now it’s time to put the Instant Pot to work. Add the oil to the Instant Pot and set it to "sauté." Add the cumin seeds and stir. Let the cumin seeds cook in the Instant Pot for a few minutes, and then add the garlic and onion. Cook for another three minutes, and then add the spice mix to the Instant Pot and stir. Then add a half cup of water and give the whole mixture another quick stir.
Put the Instant Pot to work
Now it’s time to add the spinach and Swiss chard, so just add your greens along with the remaining half cup of water to the pot. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and set the knob on the lid to "sealing." Select the "pressure cook" option and set the time to zero. You don’t have to put in a time greater than zero because by the time the Instant Pot reaches pressure, the spinach will be cooked. Once that happens, the Instant Pot should beep, and then you should switch the knob on the lid to "venting." Be careful when doing this because the pent-up steam will release with quite a bit of force out of the lid!
Blend and add cheese
The next step is to blend the contents of the Instant Pot into a creamy "gravy" or base for the saag Paneer. The easiest way to do this is with an immersion blender, but if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can remove the contents of the Instant Pot, put them in a blender or food processor, blend until smooth, and then return the mixture to the Instant Pot. After the mixture is blended, hit the "cancel" button on the Instant Pot and select the "sauté" option once again. Add the Paneer cheese cubes and stir. After a few minutes, the cheese should be warmed through, and your saag paneer will be ready to serve!
Saag Paneer is a classic Indian dish, a vegetarian main course that is hearty, filling, and flavorful. It’s essentially India’s version of creamed spinach.
- 8 ounces Paneer cheese
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (or mustard greens or kale)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup water, divided
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- Cut Paneer into cubes.
- Remove the stems from the Swiss chard and wash.
- Mix all the spices together except the cumin seeds.
- Add oil to the Instant Pot and select the "sauté" button. Add the cumin seeds and stir, cooking for about two minutes. Then add in the onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Add the spice mix to the Instant Pot and stir. Then add in ½ cup water and stir again.
- Add the spinach and Swiss chard to the Instant Pot along with the remaining ½ cup water. Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the knob on the lid to "sealing." Select the "pressure cook" button, and set the time to 0. After the Instant Pot reaches enough heat to cook the spinach, it will beep. Carefully switch the knob to "venting" so that all pressure is released. You need to stand back for this, as the pent-up steam will release with force out of the top lid.
- If you have an immersion blender, you can blend the contents of the Instant Pot now into a creamy "gravy." If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove the contents of the Instant Pot, put in a blender, and blend until smooth. Then return the mixture to the Instant Pot.
- After the blended mixture is ready, hit the "cancel" button and select "sauté." Add the Paneer cubes and stir well. Cook until just heated through, or a few minutes.
- Serve and enjoy.