Instant Pot Biryani made with vegetables and paneer! Traditionally biryani is more complex process where the vegetables are made separately with the spices and rice is usually par-boiled. Then you layer the ingredients and let the flavors absorb at a low heat. Pulao is a dish where the rice and vegetables are all cooked together in one pot. However, biryani is much heavier in the spices and flavors. So I'd say this is the PERFECT hybrid of biryani and pulao in the world of convenience we live in today!
This Instant Pot Biryani is:
- Vegetarian. Use tofu instead of paneer to make it vegan!
- Loaded with vegetables and herbs: Bell peppers, green beans, carrots, corn, broccoli are just some of the vegetable options you can use. Mint and cilantro are the herbs that brought out a delicious taste.
- Full of spices: cumin seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, and a pinch of saffron threads are some of the whole spices I used.
- Includes paneer: I had some homemade frozen paneer (made by my mother in law!) that was already cubed and pan-fried. You can use fresh paneer, frozen paneer, bake it, or pan fry it. If you use tofu, I have used extra firm tofu, squeezed out the excess water and placed it at the top before cooking so it doesn't crumble. You can also pan-fry or bake it.
- Topped with caramelized onions and roasted cashews
- Only 5 minutes in the Instant Pot...FIVE MINUTES! I used the low setting pressure which helped keep the rice separated.
How to make this vegetable-filled biryani with paneer??
Just some FYI's: I like to use the same pot for everything. I have a nonstick pot but if you don't, I suggest removing the brown at the bottom of the pot after completing your onions and cashews step. You can do this by adding some water after tempering your spices.
- Soaked rice: After rinsing the rice, I soaked mine for about 20 minutes.
- Heat up some oil in the IP and caramelize your onions until they're brown. Take the onions out and then pan-fry/roast the cashews until they're golden brown and set them aside with the onions. I like to place mine on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
- Then add a little more oil if there's not any left and temper those whole spices.
- Turn off the pot and add in the veggies, rice, paneer cubes, water, mint and saffron.
- For the Instant Pot settings, I used the LOW PRESSURE and cooked it for 5 minutes. Release as soon as the IP beeps and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Finally, finish it off by topping it with the caramelized onions and cashews and serve it with yogurt or raita!
Pretty easy, right? I love this dish because it's filling, you can add so many different types of vegetables, and it's so quick to cook.
Basically, our hearts were happy and bellies were full after indulging in this. I hope you guys enjoy devouring this easy/convenient/lazy version of a hybrid biryani!
More Indian flavors to love:
- Phyllo Chaat Cups
- Vegetable Samosa Puffs
- Vegan Peanut Corn Curry
- 5-Minute Cilantro Chutney
- 5-Minute Sweet Tamarind Chutney
Let's talk about tempering seeds! You will see in a lot of my recipes that I “temper” ingredients like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, dried chilies, etc. You are more than welcome to use the powders if that’s what you have on hand. Many South Asian cuisines temper seeds and spices. Tempering can be done at the beginning or the end of your dish, depending on the dish. The significance behind the tempering is that when these ingredients are added to hot oil, the natural oils and healing properties of the spices are released. It gives you the most important properties of the spices and adds extra flavor to the dish!
Instant Pot Biryani
For Topping the Biryani:
- ½ cup cashews
- 1 red onion; thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons oil; 3 tablespoons if needed after caramelizing
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
For the Biryani:
- 1 cup long grain basmati rice; rinse and soaked for 20 mins
- 1 cup paneer; fresh or frozen (thawed)
- 1 cup mixed vegetables; frozen, thawed
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 small bell pepper
- ¼ cup fresh mint; chopped
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon biryani powder; see notes
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder; optional
- pinch saffron threads; optional
- 1-2 teaspoons salt; depending on the salt in your biryani powder
- 1 ½ cup water
Preparing the Toppings:
- Rinse and soak the rice if you have not done so already.
- Set the Instant Pot to "Saute" mode and heat the oil.
- Add the onions to the oil for about 5-8 minutes until caramelized.
- Remove the onions onto a paper towel (to soak up any excess oil). Add the cashews to the heat oil and pan fry them for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Be careful not to burn them as they cook quickly.
- Remove them onto a paper towel and set them aside with the onions. Keep the Instant Pot on. (See notes for browning on pot).
For the Biryani
- Add another tablespoon of oil if needed. Once the oil is heated (or immediately after pan frying cashews), add the cumin seeds and let them pop.
- Then add the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, and whole cloves until fragrance releases (about 1 minute).
- Add the vegetables, rice, paneer, mint, turmeric, biryani powder, red chili powder, saffron, salt, and water. Give it a quick stir.
- Turn off the pot, close the lid, and set the pressure release valve to sealed.
- Adjust the pressure to LOW PRESSURE and set the Instant Pot to "Manual" 5 minutes. Once the Instant Pot beeps, quick release immediately.
- Open the pot and fluff with a fork. Top with cilantro, caramelized onions, and cashews. Serve with yogurt or your favorite raita!
- Biryani powder can be bought at any Indian grocery store. I have substituted with garam masala before and it still turns out great.
- I like to use the same pot for everything. I have a nonstick pot for my Instant Pot. If you don't, I suggest removing the brown at the bottom of the pot after completing your onions and cashews step. You can do this by adding some water after tempering your spices to deglaze the pot.
- To make this dish vegan, use tofu instead of paneer and add it right before closing the lid to cook.