Paneer tikka masala is one of those classic Indian dishes that you can't say no to. That deliciously creamy and decadent sauce is all kinds of irresistible! Make it in the Instant Pot with this quick and easy recipe.
What do you use paneer cheese for?
Paneer is an un-aged cheese that doesn’t melt when heated. It is typically made by curdling milk with acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar. Paneer can be made at home and is also easily available at all Indian stores, in most parts of the world. This cheese lends itself very well to Indian curries and Indian appetizers – as the neutral flavor of paneer cheese picks up the flavors of spices and aromatics used in Indian cooking very easily. A close substitute for paneer is tofu.
There are several varieties of paneer dishes that are extremely popular including the very well-known malai kofta, paneer tikka, paneer makhani (paneer butter masala), palak paneer, etc. Rather than pick a favorite, I’d happily eat my way through them all, given a chance! I like my paneer tikka masala lapped up with some homemade Indian naan bread or some plain basmati rice.
What is paneer tikka masala made of?
The ingredients used to make this paneer tikka masala are very similar to the ones I use for my chicken tikka masala; however, I have used almond meal (you can use almond flour as well) for this recipe to cut down the cooking time. The traditional recipe for paneer tikka masala uses cashews or almonds to make that rich, creamy gravy. My butter chicken recipe has a similar flavor profile – the key differences being that butter chicken does not need onions and uses a good amount of butter.
The ingredients that go into making paneer tikka masala are:
- Paneer (store-bought or homemade)
- Ginger and garlic
- Tomato puree
- Spices: Kashmiri Chili powder, Turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala
- Almond meal (or almond flour, or raw almond or cashews)
- Honey - this balances out the tang from the tomatoes
- Kasuri Methi – dried fenugreek leaves are optional, however, it does give the curry that extra something – for a complex flavour profile, try not to skip this
- Cream - just a little cream helps to finish the dish
How to make paneer tikka masala at home:
Start by setting the Instant Pot in the Saute mode. Heat some ghee or oil, and add chopped onions. Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add minced ginger and garlic.
Add the spices - we are using Kashmiri chili powder, turmeric, garam masala and cumin powder in this recipe. Saute for a minute more and then add 1+1/2 cups of water. Using a splatula, deglaze the bottom of the Instant Pot. This step is important, in order to avoid getting a 'Burn' notice.
Add 3/4 a cup of almond meal and mix it into the rest of the ingredients. Cover the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to Sealing position.
Pressure cook in 'High' mode for 3 minutes. After the cooking cycle is complete, perform a quick release of pressure. Open the lid of the Instant Pot.
Add 3/4 cup of tomato purée. Use a hand blender to blend all the ingredients and make a smooth sauce. Crush a tablespoon of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) in your palm and add it to the sauce.
Add salt to season the sauce. Add a tablespoon of honey and mix to combine.
Add the paneer cubes, mix gently and saute for 3-4 minutes more. Once done, turn off the Instant Pot and cover with the lid. Let the curry sit for 5 minutes in the residual heat of the Instant Pot. Serve warm with naan or rice.
For more Instant Pot Indian recipes, take a look at:
Instant Pot Paneer Tikka Masala
- Hand Blender
- 14 oz paneer (approx 400 grams) cut into cubes
- 1.5 teaspoons ghee (or melted butter)
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- ¾ cup Tomato puree
- 1.5 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
- 1 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- ¾ cup Almond meal
- 1 tbsp Honey 1 tablespoon
- 1 tbsp Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- Salt to season
- Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode (More setting)
- Add the ghee, and once it heats up, add the chopped onions.
- Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the ginger and garlic.
- Add the spices, and saute for a minute more.
- Add 1.5 cups water and deglaze the Instant Pot (ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the Instant Pot).
- Add ¾ cup almond meal and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
- Pressure cook for 3 minutes on High setting. Perform a quick release of pressure after 3 minutes are done.
- Open the lid of the Instant Pot and add the tomato puree. Stir to combine.
- Using a stick blender/hand blender, blend the ingredients to form a smooth sauce.
- Crush the kasuri methi lightly in your hands and add it to the sauce. Add the honey, followed by the salt.
- Finally, add the cubes of paneer and mix to coat the paneer in the sauce. Hit the Sauté button and cook for 3 minutes. Once done, press Cancel, cover the lid and let the paneer tikka masala sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with naan or basmati rice.
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