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Paneer Biryani

How to make Paneer Biryani

Soaking Rice

  1. Rinse Sugar Watchers Low GI Rice very well in running fresh water until the starch clears from the water. The water should be clear and not cloudy or opaque. Soak the rice grains in water for 30 minutes.

Frying Onions

  1. While the rice soaks, prep the ingredients for the paneer biryani. Thinly slice 2 medium-sized onions. You will need about ¾ to 1 cup of sliced onions.

Heat 4 tablespoons oil or ghee in a small frying pan and add the sliced onions.

  1. Stir and begin to fry the onions until they turn golden. Add one or two pinches of salt for quick browning of the onions. Stir often for uniform browning and fry on a low heat.
  2. In the below photo, the onions have begun to get golden.
  3. When the onions are golden and caramelized, remove them with a slotted spoon. Place the fried onions on kitchen paper towels and set aside.

Set the oil or ghee in which we fried the onions aside. We will be using this oil or ghee while layering the paneer biryani.

Infusing Saffron with Milk

  1. Warm ¼ cup milk on stovetop or in the microwave. Add 16 to 18 saffron strands to the milk. Stir and set aside.

Making Paneer Marinade

  1. Whisk ½ cup of whole milk curd (yogurt) in a mixing bowl until smooth. Do not use sour curd as that will make your paneer biryani taste sour.
  2. Add the following herbs and mix well.
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves 
  • ½ tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  1. Add in the following listed spices and mix again:
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of garam masala powder (sub ½ teaspoon curry powder instead)
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • salt as needed
  1. Add half of the fried onions and all of the paneer cubes (200 to 250 grams).
  2. Mix gently. Cover and keep the marinated paneer aside for 30 minutes at room temperature. If you plan to marinate for a longer time, keep the paneer bowl covered in your fridge.

Cooking Basmati Rice

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a rolling boil in a pot.
  2. Add the whole spices listed below:
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 medium-sized or 2 small tej patta
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  1. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Now add the soaked rice.
  3. Do not stir and you will see the temperature drops a bit after adding rice. Do not cover the pan while cooking rice.
  4. Keep the flame to high and cook the rice without lowering the heat.
  5. Boil the rice grains until they are 75% or ¾ cooked. They should have a bite when you eat them.
  6. Drain the cooked rice in a colander. You can rinse the rice grains gently to remove starch if any and to stop the grains from cooking. Cover with a lid and set the cooked basmati rice aside.
  7. This is the marinated paneer after 30 minutes.

Assembling and Layering

  1. Add the same oil in which we fried the onions to a thick bottomed pan or pot. If cooking the biryani in an oven, add the oil to an oven safe glass bowl or pan.
  2. Add the marinated paneer and layer neatly.
  3. Make a rice layer now. Add all the rice. I have just made two layers. If you want you can make 4 layers each of the marinated paneer and cooked rice.
  4. Add the remaining fried onions.
  5. Now add 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and ½ tablespoon mint leaves.
  6. Sprinkle the saffron infused milk all over. Place the saffron strands as well on the rice.
  7. Dot with 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee. You can add 1 tablespoon of rose water or kewra water at this step.

Dum Cooking Paneer Biryani

  1. Cover with an aluminium foil or with a moist cotton kitchen napkin.
  2. Place the lid tightly on the pan and place it on a tawa or skillet.
  3. For the first 5 minutes dum cook the paneer biryani on a medium heat. Later reduce the heat and cook the paneer biryani on dum for 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Cook the biryani in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
  5. The paneer biryani is ready after being dum cooked for 20 minutes. Check the bottom with a spoon and there should be no liquids. If you find the bottom of the pan watery or with any gravy or liquid, dum cook for 5 to 10 minutes more.