June 19, 2013

A vegetarian's delight - Quick Paneer Biryani

So…here I am back again! 

     After almost three months and several days of incessant thesis writing and dealing with the nitty-gritty of graduate school, I am finally back to my haven – writing and reliving every bite I have loved to make and savor. Almost after every hiatus – laden with feelings of guilt and anxiety, as I sit to start penning down my thoughts, the familiarity of this blog and its comfort, suddenly makes it all seem ok. Back to my very own safe nook, where everything feels the same regardless of how fast things might have changed in the past few months.

     Regardless of all that, this long hiatus from the blog, has been one heck of a remarkable journey through a dream I have always had but never really imagined it happening. Sharing my graduation with my parents and loved ones was one of the most fulfilling experiences even though it remained equally paired with the hustle and the craziness that’s a part and parcel of submitting one’s thesis. While that’s another chapter altogether, for now let's just focus on the better aspects of life – more specifically on the delights of having my Maa here with me, feeding me to my limits and teaching me some handy tricks-of-the-trade. Utter bliss :)

     After months of eating quick-to-make familiar recipes to sail through the rough dissertation-seas, I had the great opportunity of having my Maa here with me to teach me some easy-to-make yet delightfully scrumptious meals in no time. Thankful is the word I am looking for here when I manage to cook up exotic meals in truly minimal time...truly a life saver :)

     To begin with, let’s start with a brief description of this dish. Most aptly described, I would say that it is an ideal hybrid between the royal biryani and a pulao. Pulao in the sense that all its components – such as the paneer and the rice are cooked together in a single pot unlike the biryani, but its flavors and richness match that of its exotic Mughlai cousin. Delete the time consuming part of the biryani process and pair it up with the easy pulao process and here you have a winner. This dish for sure is an absolute keeper for times when you need that one recipe to wow your family or maybe even your guests within no time.

Quick Paneer Biryani

An exotic paneer pilaf made fragrant by the sweetness of lightly fried onions & raisins along with the crunchiness of fried cashews and the aroma of refreshing mint. A delish time saving hybrid between a pulao and a biryani.


For the marination
½ lb Paneer (cut in ½ inch cubes)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp Chilli powder
½ tsp Lemon juice
¼ tsp salt

3 T Oil
½ inch Cinnamon
1 Star anise (Ful chakri)
1 Large whole cardamom (Badi Elaichi)
2 Cloves
4-5 Whole peppercorns
1 Bay leaf

2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
½ tsp Turmeric powder
½ tsp Chilli powder
Salt to taste
Pinch of sugar

1 C Basmati rice (Soaked for atleast 15 mins)

2 C boiling water

1 Large onion (Finely sliced)
1 tsp Raisins
1 tsp Cashews

2-3 T Chopped mint leaves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg and cardamom powder

1 T Ghee
¼ tsp rose water
Pinch of saffron soaked in warm milk

0. Marinate the paneer with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and lemon juice and set aside.

1. Heat up the oil in a vessel over medium heat.Add in the whole spices and stir until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

2. Then add in the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and sugar to the oil. Stir constantly until the oil floats in the top (~ 3-4 mins).

3. Now mix in the soaked and drained basmati rice into the masala mix along with the marinated paneer cubes. Stir well till everything is coated with the masala (2-3 mins).

4. After the rice is well mixed, add in the boiling water to the pot. Let it then come to a boil and then simmer over low heat for about 10-15 minutes till done. Check in between to test the doneness of the rice.

5. While the rice is cooking, in a separate pan, fry up the sliced onions till light brown. Also sauté the raisins and cashews till fragrant.

6. Once the rice is done, fold in (aka mix lightly) the fried onions, raisins, cashews and mint leaves along with the ghee.

7. Sprinkle the nutmeg and cardamom powder and cover it for at least half an hour and then serve warm with raita or curry of your choice.

8. Optional: After the rice is done, lightly sprinkle some rose water and saffron soaked in milk before covering it up for half an hour.

Another quick variation:
Using a pressure cooker for the rice fastens the process further. Just follow the step 1-3 as given in a pressure cooker. Add the boiling water and then wait for one whistle. Turn off the stove after the first whistle and wait for pressure to release.

Here's hoping that this dish fascinates you to try your hand at it.

Have a great week ahead :)

P.S: I am submitting this recipe to:
- "Know your Dairy - Paneer" hosted by Amrita and Jagruti
-  "Kid's delight" hosted by Kalyani and Valli
- "Monsoon temptations" hosted by Manasi
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Manju and Gayatri
- "Kid's Delight event" hosted by Jayanthi and Srivalli.
- " Kid friendly dishes" hosted by Vardhini of Cook's joy.

Monsoon Temptations - Food Blog Event


  1. Easy & tasty one pot meal...I will surely try this...thank you for linking to my event

  2. Its looks so inviting and delicious.

    Hey I am hosting my first food event at http://weliciousdelicious.blogspot.in/2013/07/corn-mania-food-event.html.

    Please do participate. Would love to have your amazing recipes at my blog.


  3. Perfectly cooked biriyani.. Thanks for sharing your recipe in my event.


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