Paneer Biryani or Cottage Cheese Biryani is a popular rice-based main course dish cooked with paneer (cottage cheese), long grain (basmati) rice and exotic spices. Let’s learn step-by-step how to make Paneer Biryani
Paneer Biryani is a good alternative of meat biryani for vegetarians. The recipe of paneer biryani is easy to make and can be cooked at home by beginners too. Unlike, chicken biryani, it does not require long marination hours.
I often prepare paneer biryani at home as it is quick meal and at the same time everyone in my family really enjoy it. This is a very good rice-based main course for any kitty parties or any home-based parties.
Brief History of Biryani
Report says Biryani is the most searched Indian food globally. Read here. Interestingly, the word Biriyani is originated from the Persian word Birian which means ‘fried before cooking’ and Birinj, the Persian word for rice. There are different theories how biryani came to India and later it became the most popular Indian dish.
We are a family of Biryani lovers and you will find varieties of veg and non-veg biryani in my blog:
- Kathal Biryani (Vegetarian)
- Kolkata Style Chicken Biryani (Non-vegetarian)
- Vegetable Dum Biryani (Vegetarian)
- Lucknow Style Chicken Biryani (Non-vegetarian)
How to make tasty paneer biryani at home?
You can prepare delicious and flavorful paneer biryani at home. Paneer biryani it self is a full meal and you do not need any side dish to serve along with it other than curd or raita.
Selection of ingredients plays a key role while making an authentic paneer biryani. I always use long grain rice variety (basmati rice) for my biryani. It has a strong aroma which gives the recipe a distinct flavor. In addition, it is also important to use good quality paneer for this recipe.
Use of homemade desi ghee (clarified butter) gives nice aroma to the biryani. Right amount of whole spices and spice powders also enhance the taste and aroma of your biryani. Preferably use homemade biryani masala powder. However, if you do not have homemade biryani masala powder, you can use store bought branded biryani masala powder.
What are the different varieties of Paneer Biryani?
Apart from the regular Paneer Biryani, there are two more interesting flavours of paneer biryani is very popular. One is paneer makhani biryani and another one is paneer tikka biryani. I am yet to try both the flavors.
Why should I soak the paneer in warm water before marination?
Refrigerated paneer is cold and hard. Hence when you immerse the paneer into warm water, it becomes soft. If you marinate it after this, marination gets into the paneer pieces.
Can I use tofu instead of paneer in this biryani?
Of course! you can prepare Tofu Biryani instead paneer biryani by replacing paneer with tofu. You can make vegan version of paneer biryani by substituting the dairy products. For example, tofu instead of paneer, peanut curd or any other vegan curd in place of normal curd, soya or almond milk substituting milk and vegetable oil instead of ghee.
Can I add any other vegetables in Paneer Biryani?
To answer this question, I would say avoid adding any other vegetables in paneer biryani. Many of the recipes of paneer biryani call for capsicum or bell peppers, beans and carrots. However, these vegetables have their own flavor and paneer biryani will also get the flavor of these vegetables. Hence, avoid adding any other vegetables to enjoy the distinct flavor of paneer biryani.
How to serve Paneer Biryani?
Paneer Biryani is a popular vegetarian biryani and serves as a full meal. You do not need any side dish to serve it. As like other biryani, paneer biryani is best paired with any raita. Some prefer to have it with curd or salad.
Step-by-step Instructions to prepare Paneer Biryani
Though the ingredients list is longer but let me tell you paneer biryani is an easy and quick recipe. I have captured the step-by-step instructions in a short video here. Let’s learn how to make paneer biryani.
- 200 gm Paneer (Cottage Cheese), cut into rectangular 11/2 inch blocks
- 2 cups Basmati Rice
- 1 no Onion, medium
- 3 nos Onion, medium
- 1 inch Ginger pieces
- 8-10 nos Garlic, pods
- ½ cups Tomato Paste
- ½ cup Yogurt
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- 1½ teaspoon Coriander Powder
- 2 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 4-5 nos Cloves
- 1-2 nos Bay Leaf
- 4 to 8 nos Whole Black Peppercorn
- 3 to 4 nos Green Cardamom
- 2 nos Mace
- 2 nos Star Anise
- 2 teaspoon Biryani Masala Powder
- 3-4 tablespoon Milk
- a pinch Saffron
- 3-4 drops Yellow Food Color (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoon Ghee or Clarified Butter
- ¼ cup Refined Oil
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoon Lime Juice
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes. Boil water and add half of the whole spices into the boiling water.
- Later add the rice to cook until 75 to 80% done. Drain the water and spread the rice in big plates so that they don't stick with each other. Allow it to cool. Sprinkle little salt on rice at this point of time.
- If you have kept the paneer in refrigerator, then keep it in warm water for 10 minutes and then cut into blocks of your desired shape.
- Heat oil and saute the paneer blocks with garam masala powder and salt.
- Once they are cooled down, marinate them with lime juice.
- In a blender take onion, ginger, garlic, green chilli and coriander leaves and make a smooth paste and keep aside.
- Soak the saffron strands in warm milk for sometime.
- Now heat oil and add the sliced onions, fry them with salt and sugar until crisp and brown.
- Take out the fried onions and keep aside.
- In the remaining oil, add ghee and in the oil-ghee mixture add the remaining whole spices.
- Next add the paste of onion, ginger, garlic, coriander and green chilli.
- Cook until the raw smell goes away.
- Add dry spice powders (turmeric, red chilli, coriander and biryani masala powder) and salt to taste. Mix them well.
- Now add tomato puree and cook until raw smell disappears.
- Finally, add beaten curd and stir continuously for few minutes to avoid curdling. At this time lower the flame.
- Add the sauteed paneer cubes into the masala and mix them lightly so that paneer blocks remain unbroken.
- It is time to layer your biryani. You can do it in a big vessel when you are making large batch. For small batch either you can assemble in a vessel or just in a microwave safe bowl so that you can heat it in microwave before serving.
- For layering, grease the vessel and put a bottom layer of paneer with masala. Next spread cooked rice and add saffron-soaked milk, and some fried onions. Again put a paneer layer and thus follow the same layering for two to three layers.
- Now close the lid of the vessel and keep it on hot iron skillet for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with curd, salad or raita
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