Instant Pot: Mattar Paneer, Indian Cheese & Pea Curry with Our Punjabi Masala

January 23, 2024

mattar paneer

Here's one more way to make the iconic Punjabi dish Mattar Paneer - this time with our jarred Punjabi masala curry starter and in the Instant Pot. Remember, this is a very brothy recipe made up essentially of Indian cheese - paneer and peas. So, you don't need long cook times as you would if you were cooking beans. Five minutes is enough. But, note that in the Instant Pot, the warm up time is 32 minutes likely because of the amount of water. It's the perfect cook time to really pull all the flavors together without overcooking the ingredients. The recipe below makes a large batch using 2 pounds of paneer in at least a 6 quart IP. If you prefer to make a smaller amount, no worries, just cut the recipe in half but keep the cook time the same. From my extensive testing for my new cookbook Instant Pot Indian, I discovered that when scaling a recipe up or down in the Instant Pot, the cook times remain the same, but the warm up time fluctuates. 

If you don't want to make paneer (Indian cheese), head to your grocer. These days, everyone is selling it, even Costco - who I think has some of the best paneer on the market - sold in 2-pound blocks. 

You may wonder why make this in a pressure cooker when you can easily make it on the stovetop? I'm creating recipes for the deli section of a grocery store chain and they don't have cooktops in their department! Remember, I'm all about giving you different ways to successfully cook the same thing. For a mattar paneer on the stovetop from scratch click here and for matter paneer on the stovetop using our Punjabi masala click here.  

Consider taking one of my virtual cooking classes by clicking here

Instant Pot: Mattar Paneer, Indian Cheese & Pea Curry
Makes 16 cups

Pressure Cooker Size: 6 quart or 8 quart
Warm Up: 32 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Cool Down: 10 minutes natural release + manual release
TOTAL: 47 minutes + manual release time

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola or grapeseed)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
8 whole black cloves
3 black cardamom pods
2 (2-inch-long) cinnamon sticks
2 pounds paneer, diced into 1-inch cubes
6 cups frozen peas, slightly defrosted
4 Thai chiles or ½ - 1 serrano chile, stems removed and thinly sliced
2 cups Punjabi masala 
1/2 cup unsalted tomato paste
¼ cup kasoori methi (dried fenugreek), hand crushed to release flavor
2 tablespoons garam masala 
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne 
2 tablespoons salt
10 cups water
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

1. Place the inner pot in your Instant Pot. Select the SAUTE setting and adjust to MORE. When the indicator flashes HOT, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the paneer. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

3. Add the peas and chiles. Stir and cook for 1 minute. 

4. Press CANCEL. Add the Punjabi masala, tomato paste, kasoori methi, garam masala, coriander powder, red chile, salt, and water. Stir. 

5. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button and then press the PRESSURE LEVEL button until the panel reads HIGH. Adjust the cook time to 5 minutes. 

6. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes and then release the remaining pressure manually. Remove and discard the cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks. All the other spices are edible - the cloves are as well, so if you miss a few no worries. Add the cilantro and serve with basmati rice or Indian bread like roti or naan

Now, I know that you may not be familiar with all of the spices that I've listed in the recipe and that is okay. Don't stress. Do you need every single one? No! And please make this recipe with whatever spices you do have on hand. But, once you collect them all and make your recipe you'll start to understand why we use them and in this combination. They layer to give you different nuggets of flavor. So each one gets you closer and closer to restaurant-quality cooking. The methi or dried fenugreek is one ingredients that can be very confusing. Keep in mind that we use it in just about all Punjabi cooking - even referring to it as the 'magic' ingredient in our stye of cooking. Here's a video that will explain more from my YouTube channel. Click here to subscribe. 

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