Paneer, green bell peppers, and onions simmered in a fragrant spiced onion gravy surely will pick your day up! This is a home-style paneer masala that tastes exquisite.
Using the instant pot of course makes it even more efficient. The masala tastes even better the next day with the paneer soaked overnight in the curry, making it a perfect lunchbox recipe! Serve hot with Roti, and/or fluffy basmati rice.
My personal favorite is to serve this with a simple peas pulao, homemade yogurt, and quick pickled onions.
For the onion gravy:
2 “piece ginger, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 thin cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 indian/thai green chillies (you could substitute serrano or jalapeno)
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp canola oil
Putting together the whole dish :
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp amchur (dry mango) powder
2 tbsp dried methi (fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp kitchen king masala (this is a specific blend of spices by brand ‘Everest’ ; available at all indian grocers; if you’ve never tried it, don’t miss out!)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp coarse kosher salt
2 (14 oz) blocks of paneer, cubed into bite size pieces
Tip: I usually soak the whole packets of paneer in hot water for 10 minutes to remove the cold stiffness of the cheese. It makes the paneer soft, airy and fluffy which then absorbs the masala much better.
For the onion gravy
Turn on the Instant Pot and hit Saute, setting it to ‘more’/high heat. Once it reaches the correct heat and you hear the beep, add the measured canola oil along with cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cardamom, and cumin seeds.
Fry until the cumin seeds start toasting, around 30-40 seconds, by which time all the other spices should be toasty as well. Make sure you keep stirring during this step, or the spices can easily burn.
Now add in chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies. Cook this for another 30 seconds, and then add in chopped onions. Saute until onions soften, about 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat in the instant pot, and let it cool down for 5 minutes.
Transfer the onion spice mixture into a blender and blend to really smooth puree. I did not add any additional water; the thicker the gravy, the better.
I use a vitamix blender which handles blending hot contents easily. If you’re using a regular blender, please make sure the mixture has completely cooled down before blending.
Pour the blended onion spice gravy back into the instant pot.
Putting together the whole dish:
Turn on Saute mode, this time set to Normal heat. The Instant Pot already contains the blended onion gravy, and once this starts simmering, add in chopped onions. Let this mixture cook until the onions soften, around 3 minutes.
Add the measured spices; coriander, dried methi, amchur, garam masala, and kitchen king masala. Add a 2-3 tablespoons of water to loosen up the gravy, mix well, let this continue to simmer for another 2 minutes.
Add in tomato paste, and bell peppers along with the measured salt. Also add another 1/4 cup water and mix well. Let this whole masala simmer 5 minutes.
Add in the paneer pieces and toss together gently so the paneer doesn’t break. Add another 1/2 cup of water.
Turn off saute mode. Cover the instant pot, make sure the vent is in Sealing position. Hit the Manual button, and set timer to 5 minutes. You will hear a beep, when it’s set and the cooking starts. Let the Instant Pot do its thing until it completes the cooking countdown and now goes to resting mode showing L0:00.
I let this rest for 5 more minutes.
Please be careful during this step;
At L0:05, I manually release the vent to let the all the steam out. Once all the steam is released, carefully open the lid.
Very gently toss the whole masala together. The paneer will be uber tender, soaking up all that the spiced masala.
Serve this delightfully fragrant and delicious paneer pyaaz masala piping hot with your choice of grain and/or bread.