Thursday, April 25, 2019

Instant Pot Palak Paneer

A popular Indian curry made from spinach and paneer (cottage cheese); Palak paneer is creamy and yummy plus really easy to make in the Instant Pot! 

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Spinach is one of the vegetables I make pretty often at home. A versatile vegetable that is great for curries, with lentils, in soups and pasta sauces; spinach is amazing for dinner or lunch.

Out of ALL the recipes I make using spinach; Palak Paneer is our favorite. Pieces of paneer dunked in bright green curry and topped with cream; this Indian recipe pairs perfectly with roti, naan or rice. If you need a Punjabi favorite to go with the curry, try this with Missi Roti. It makes a great combination.

One of the popular recipes at most Indian restaurants, buffets and events; Palak Paneer has a LOT of variations and many people make it using different methods. A couple of ingredients might vary in different households and so do the method to make it. 

Video Recipe

How to keep Spinach bright green in the curry?

I love to make sure my spinach is bright green in my curry. When cooking the curry on the stove top, I blanch the spinach and use it. To do so, I boil water, add salt and sugar and then add spinach leaves to the hot water. Remove them in a few seconds. It helps keep the spinach green.

In the Instant pot, I skip the blanching. I like to quickly cook the spinach and and open the lid quickly after the cooking is complete. Letting the spinach sit for longer than 5 minutes after cooking will lead to a much darker green than I would like. Adding a pinch of sugar helps retain the green color too! 

Looking for more Spinach recipes? Check these out:


The paneer used in the recipe can either be shallow fried or used as is. I make both the versions. When making in the Instant Pot, the paneer can be shallow fried first and then the curry can be made in the same pot. It is super quick and makes the paneer golden brown on the outside but soft inside. 

I generally add cream for making the palak creamy. However, this can be substituted by unsalted cashew paste too. It makes the curry creamy too. 

Finally the texture of the curry. I like to process my spinach to a smooth paste. However, if you like it with some crunch, do not make a smooth paste. Leave it with some bits in it. 

How to serve Palak Paneer?

Palak Paneer is an Indian curry served with a variety of breads. Tandoori Roti, Naan, Paratha or Missi Roti taste amazing with the curry. 

Rice dishes like Jeera Rice, Peas pulao or just steamed rice makes a great accompaniment for the curry too. 

Lastly, I sometimes use the curry as a sauce for Indian style pizza. Just spread the curry on a pizza base and bake topped with cheese. It makes a great alternative to regular pizza! 

So, now with all the information, I hope you try this curry! If you love Instant pot recipes, do not forget to join this FB group: Instant pot Recipes Community. It has recipes made in the Instant Pot by bloggers and food lovers! 


Spinach 4 cups, packed
Paneer 1 cup, cubed
Onion 1/2 medium
Tomato 1/2 medium
Garlic, ginger and green chili paste 1 tsp
Cream 1/4 cup

Asafetida a pinch
Oil 2 tsp
Salt 3/4 tsp
Sugar 1/4 tsp


Set the mode of the Instant Pot to 'Sauté' and add oil. Once the oil heats up, add mustard seeds, asafetida and cumin seeds. 

Once the seeds pop, add the garlic, ginger and green chili paste. Let the paste sauté till the raw flavors vanish. 

Next add the onions and tomatoes. Mix well and sauté for a minute. Then deglaze by adding 1/2 cup water. Add salt, sugar, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Mix well.

Once the water is boiling, add the washed and drained spinach. Once added, close the lid of the Instant pot. 

Set mode to 'Pressure Cook' and Normal. Set pressure to high and time to 2 minutes. Move the valve to sealing. 

Once the cooking time lapses and the Instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure and open the lid. 

Mix well and puree using an immersion blender or a regular blender. Set the mode to 'Sauté' again and add Garam Masala. 

Add the paneer and mix well. Let the paneer rest in the curry for 5-6 minutes to absorb the flavors. 

Serve topped with cream. I like mine with Naan, paratha or Missi Roti


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Loaded Curly Fries Nachos

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of McCain Foods. The opinions and text are all mine. #MyMcCainPotatoes #CollectiveBias

Seasoned Fries loaded with Indian curry sauce, salad and cheese; this game-day recipe doubles as Naan wraps. Addictive and easy to make! 

April is racing fast and we are all gearing up for a LOT of parties. Lots of game-days, spring parties and summer grilling events are in sight. This year I am planning some fusion recipes for all these parties! 

One of my favorite ingredient to enjoy at parties in my house or to take along for get togethers is everything from the collection by Mc Cain®. Their Extra Crisp Crinkle fries and Seasoned Curly Fries have a permanent spot in our game-day menu. Not to forget the Mashed Potato Smiles, a favorite for kids and adults alike! Made from real potatoes, this company is the world's largest manufacturer of frozen potato products! 

Here are my favorites from their product line: McCain® Craft Beer Battered Thin Cut Fries are PERFECT to load up with toppings,McCain® Smiles® Mashed Potato Shapes, fun shapes loved by kids and adults alike and McCain® Seasoned Curly Fries Seasoned Potato Fries adds a burst of flavor to your menu. These products have a crispy exterior for a satisfying crunch with every bite and they are great for dipping and layering too.

If you love their products too, do not forget to buy it ALL before 5/31/19. Wondering why? Now until 5/31/19 you can get $1.50 rebate when you buy 2 or more participating Mc Cain® products from Walmart. Submit your details here to get the rebate! 

This time I made the game-day spread using Nachos made from Seasoned Curly Fries, Naan breads to wrap the Nachos and make wraps, Crinkle fries and a few dips like curry sauce, mustard, salsa and mayonnaise. The spread was PERFECT and is now going to be repeated at another gaming event! 

Why make Nachos with Fries?

For the longest time my game-day recipes would be traditional chips and dips, nachos made using them and served with tortilla. 

This time around I decided to innovate the traditional combination and turn everything on its head. I replaced corn chips with seasoned fries, taco sauce with freshly made curry sauce and tortilla with store bought naans! 

The combination was perfect and now this form of nachos is made VERY often in our house, for parties or for weekends. Everyone enjoys it as it has the perfect balance of spice, crunch, cheese toppings and is super easy to make! 

One more reason to make this addictive snack is that it requires ingredients that are ALL available at Walmart. I made one trip and I got everything I needed for the recipe! Plus, after the ingredients were bought, I could make the recipe in under 30 minutes! 

Make the toppings and sauce before hand. Just before the party, make the nachos and serve. Once the preparation is done, it only takes 15 minutes to put it together! Plus, the recipe doubles or triples wonderfully. Make it for a family or please a crowd! 

How to make Fries Nachos PERFECT each time?

This recipe has a few ingredients and MOST of them can be customized based on how you like. I used the Seasoned Curly Fries for this recipe but the Crinkle fries work equally well for the recipe. I baked the fries in the recipe but fried ones work amazingly well too. 

I made the curry sauce from scratch as it does not take a long time. However, the same can be bought from the store and used off the bottle.

The only other toppings I used are vegetables and cheese. Adding corn, peppers, sautéed vegetables and paneer works really well too. I love the recipe with the add-ins too. 

How to serve the Nachos?

For my latest game-day party I made the nachos in a cast iron skillet. Along with that I also baked some extra Seasoned Fries and Crinkle Fries. I served the Nachos with a side of Naan for my friends to make their own Naaniza or Wraps.

Along with the delicious fries, there was salsa, curry sauce, mayonnaise and mustard for people to dip their fries. I LOVE the fries without any dip, especially the seasoned ones! 

So now, look no further and make this for your next game-day! I would LOVE to hear how it turned out for you all! 


For the Sauce

Onion 1/2 medium, diced
Garlic 2-3 cloves, minced
Ginger 1/2 inch piece, minced
Canned Tomatoes 1 cup
Vegetable Oil 1 tbsp
Red chili powder 1 tsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Cumin Powder 1/4 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp

For the Fries

Mc Cain seasoned curly Fries 1/2 bag
Onion 1/2 medium, diced
Tomato 1/2 medium, diced
Lettuce 3-4 leaves, shredded
Shredded Cheese 1/4 cup
Shredded Red Cabbage 1/4 cup
Cumin Powder 1/2 tsp
Lime Juice 1/4 tsp
Naan to serve


For the Sauce

Blend the onion, garlic and ginger to a smooth paste. Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the paste. Sauté till the onion is cooked, about 4-5 minutes. 

Next add the canned tomatoes, red chili powder, sugar and salt. Let the sauce simmer till the tomatoes are mushy. 

Add the Garam masala and cumin powder. Mix well. Remove from flame and set aside. 

To make the Nachos

Preheat oven to 450 F. In a baking tray arrange the seasoned curly fries in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn the fries over and bake for another 10 minutes. 

Remove from oven, add the curry sauce and half the shredded cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes, till the cheese melts. 

Meanwhile, mix together onion, tomatoes, cabbage and lettuce. Sprinkle cumin powder and lime juice and mix well. 

Once the cheese melts on the nachos, remove from oven. Spread the salad on the fries and serve. 

To enjoy the Nachos in wraps, place some of the prepared fries on naan and enjoy as a wrap. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Sabudana Vada

Sabudana Vada, fritters made from tapioca pearls and a few other ingredients are addictive yet easy to make!

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Sabudana Vada, a popular Indian snack is one of our favorite recipes. Fritters made from tapioca/sabudana with a few other ingredients, these are crisp outside and perfectly soft inside. Served with cilantro chutney, these are great for fasting days like Navratri, Maha Shivratri and so on. 

For the longest time I have been making the non-fried sabudana vada, made in the paniyaram stand. But a few days ago I was tempted to make this authentic version just before Chaitra Navratri; a festival that lots of people celebrate by fasting and enjoying such dishes. 

Fasting in some parts of India is actually a great idea to enjoy some recipes that are not made at other times. Sabudana, samai, kuttu, rajgira, all kinds of potatoes and yams find an application during fasting days. 

I am a fan of fasting recipes and remember how we used to gorge on these recipes in our childhood while our grandma used to fast. Sabudana khichdi, potato fries, kheer and what not! I grew up enjoying them and am still a fan. It is not a surprise that these recipes are on the blog too. If you are looking for fasting recipes, check these out:
Out of all of these, sabudana fritters are my favorite. Fritters are always yum when dipped in spicy cilantro chutney, ketchup or just by themselves with chai. These fritters are like that too. I can polish off a BIG bowl filled with them in one go! 

How to make perfect Sabudana Vada?

Perfect sabudana vada are those which are crisp on the outside while being soft yet cooked inside. The ingredients do play a major part in them being well made, but the method makes a lot of difference too. 

A popular complaint many people have while making these is that the vadas separate when fried. Or that they fry in a way that the hot oil splutters all over. The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure ALL the ingredients are dry before rolling them. If there is water, that splutters out and makes quite a mess. 

These are BEST enjoyed hot. Even though the vada is crisp when fried, they tend to become soggy over time. So avoid making them in advance. Fry them only when you are ready to enjoy them with chutney, yogurt or chai. 

In case there are leftovers, re-heat them in the oven. That is the easiest way to make them crisp again. Heating them in the microwave makes them soggy and weird in texture. 


The ingredients listed below are the ones typically used in fasting recipes. If there are ingredients that you do not like or enjoy, skip them. If the recipe is not for fasting, you can add red chili powder, diced vegetables or anything else as you like. 

I used the regular size sabudana but you can use the mini ones too. The mini ones do not need to be soaked; they can be rinsed and washed immediately. 

The chili and black pepper powder are used for heat. These are not spicy but definitely have a hint of spice. If you like the vada bland, reduce both of them to get the heat right.  


Potato 1 medium, boiled and peeled
Green chili 1-2 sliced
Ginger 1 inch piece, grated
Peanuts 1/3 cup
Cilantro 1/4 cup, chopped
Salt 1 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Lime Juice 1 tsp
Oil to fry


Rinse the sabudana well and soak in 3/4 cup water for atleast 6 hours or overnight. After soaking, the pearls should be soft.

Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame. Once they are aromatic, remove from flame and cool. Process to a coarse powder and set aside. 

In a pan shred or mash the boiled potato. Add the peanuts and sabudana. Mix well. Then add all the remaining ingredients except oil. 

Using a potato masher, mash the mixture well. 

Apply some oil on your palms and divide the mixture into 2 tbsp parts. Roll each part into a ball and flatten them. 

Repeat for all of the mixture and keep the vada ready.

Heat oil in a pan and once hot, add the vadas. Make sure you do not crowd the pan too much. 

Fry on medium flame till the outer covering is crisp. Do not fry on high flame else the vada will burn. 

Transfer on to paper towels. Serve with cilantro chutney or tomato ketchup. These vadas taste great with chai.  


Friday, April 5, 2019

Tofu Tikka Biryani

A delicious combination of charcoal grilled Tofu Tikka and Basmati rice makes this amazing Biryani. A great option for weeknight meals! 

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Biryani is one of my favorite Indian take-outs. A mix of rice, vegetables or paneer and flavorful spices; the variations possible for biryani are endless. From a North Indian style biryani to the South Indian version and from a cheater version made quickly to a patiently made dum biryani, the options are plenty. 

If you are looking for a weeknight meal, consider biryani and raita. A perfect blend of flavors, this is our go-to meal for busy weeknights. I like to serve mine with plain yogurt or Burani Raita

Traditionally vegetables or meats are marinated in a spicy yogurt based marinade and then cooked with the rice. The flavors blend in well and the result is a flavorful biryani. However, this version takes a lot of time and needs quite a few ingredients. 

Instead of that, I cooked the marinated tikka on coal and cooked the rice separately. Then I mixed everything with spices and the result was awesome. The flavor of coal grilled tikkas with the flavorful rice resulted in a delicious biryani. Plus, it requires little time as the preparation can be done in parallel. 

How to make a quick version of Biryani?

For this recipe I marinated tofu, peppers and onion in a spicy yogurt mixture. I let them rest and prepared the rice in that time. Once the rice was done, I let it cool completely. This helps in keeping the rice grains from breaking.

Then I grilled the tofu tikka and continued with the recipe. In about an hour from start to finish, I had a BIG pan of piping hot biryani ready for my family! Perfectly spiced, super flavorful and addictive; this biryani is now our favorite.

After the success of this recipe, I think I am going to take along some rice on our next camping trip and use anything we make from paneer tikka or mushroom tikka to grilled vegetables to make a version that would be great for camping dinner! The flavors of coal that are infused in the recipe give it a characteristic fragrance and enhances the taste too! 

Easy Tofu Tikka Biryani ingredients

The ingredients used for the recipe determine how good the outcome is. For the best tasting and flavorful biryani, use the right ingredients to make it right each time. 

The MOST important ingredient is Rice. Use good quality Basmati rice to make the best biryani. The fragrance from basmati cannot be achieved from other kinds of rice, so make sure you use basmati only.

Tofu, a key ingredient in the recipe needs to be of the firm type. Using medium firm or soft will result in the tikkas breaking apart and sticking to the grill. It makes quite a mess then. 

The spices used in the recipe are popularly found in any Indian pantry. If you like Indian food, you should have these in the pantry. Most Indian recipes call for them. 

Biryani Masala, a flavorful spice mix in the recipe can be made at home or bought. I like this brand as it gives an amazing flavor. 


If you are having a grilling party and have leftover tikkas, convert it to this biryani. Better still, if you have leftover rice too, it all comes together in under 10 minutes! 

Plus, if you have leftover marinade, make tofu tikka using it and then make the biryani. It is a great way to use up leftover marinade and get a meal quickly on the table. 

Finally, if you love biryanis, try one of these from the blog: 

Hope you try this recipe soon too. If you like vegetarian recipes, make sure you join this facebook group and get inspired: Delicious Vegetarian Recipes


Onion 1/2 medium, sliced thinly
Ginger 1 inch piece, grated
Garlic 2-3 cloves, grated
Green Chili 1, chopped
Cloves 1-2
Cinnamon 1 inch stick
Mustard Seeds 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Biryani Masala 1 1/2 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Ghee 2 tbsp
Mint and cilantro to top


Make the tofu tikka as directed by this recipe. Set aside.

In a pan add rinsed basmati rice and 1 1/2 cup water. Boil for 8-10 minutes, till all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is 70% cooked. Drain and set aside. An alternate way is to cook the rice in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles. 

In the same pan add 1 tbsp ghee. Heat and add sliced onions. Sauté till crisp.

Add the remaining ghee and then add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Next add ginger, garlic and green chili and sauté till fragrant. 

Then add the tofu, onions and peppers from the skewers and mix. Add the drained rice, turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. 

Mix slowly, ensuring the rice does not break. Turn down the flame, sprinkle mint and cilantro and serve with your favorite raita/ yogurt.