Paneer Biryani Testy (2021)

Paneer biryani is a mildly spiced and delicately flavored drum cooked, traditional biryani recipe. Simply moreish and flavorful paneer biryani that pairs beautifully with any raita. A drum cooked biryani takes time to make but the results are always awesome. You can make this tasty biryani on a stove-top or in the oven.

What is Paneer Biryani

A traditional Paneer Biryani recipe is a slow cooked layered casserole of paneer cubes in a curd (yogurt) based gravy, fried onions and par-cooked rice flavored with spices, saffron or rose water. Any traditionally made biryani will have separate layers of the gravy and rice, utilizing the drum method of cooking. The rice and gravy layers are slow cooked and steamed in a tightly sealed pan or pot, where the steam is unable to escape.

You will find many variations of making paneer biryani that are not only made in a pan but also in a pressure cooker and in the Instant Pot.

Yes, easy in a way, but there is some prep work like frying onions (which is also known as birista) and cooking rice.

After these two steps, making this paneer biryani is a breeze. You need to make the layers in a pot or pan and cook the biryani on stovetop or in the oven.

When I had posted this paneer biryani recipe, it was first of its kind in on the web (now I do not know). As usually a paneer biryani is made by first frying the paneer and then cooking it further with gravy or rice.

This paneer biryani has mild, delicate aroma and flavors of the spices. It is not spicy or pungent.

Love paneer with rice? Get these recipes of Paneer Pulao and Paneer Fried Rice – that have distinct flavor profiles and are made with different cooking techniques. Step-by-Step  This paneer biryani recipe is very unique and different as there is no preparation of any gravy. Here I just marinate the paneer cubes, layer the marinated paneer with cooked rice in a pan. Later cook everything together. Easy, right?

There is no absolutely no need to make any gravy with the paneer. Bonus, the paneer cubes do not become dense or hard since we are not cooking them twice – like frying or cooking in the gravy and adding to the rice while layering.

How to make Paneer Biryani

Soaking Rice

Rinse basmati 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. When the rice is soaking, 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. 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.  In the below photo, the onions have begun to get golden. When the onions are golden and caramelized, remove them with a slotted spoon. Place the fried onions on kitchen paper towels and set aside. These crispy golden fried onions are also known as Barista. 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. Warm ¼ cup milk on stovetop or in the microwave. Add 16 to 18 saffron strands to the milk. Stir and set aside. 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

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

Add in the following listed spices and mix again: ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder (ground turmeric) ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds (known as shahjeera in Hindi) 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) Add half of the fried onions and all of the paneer cubes (200 to 250 grams). 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. In the below photo you see the soaked and drained basmati rice after 30 minutes. Do drain all the water from the rice very well and set aside. Bring 4 cups water to a rolling boil in a pot Add the whole spices listed below 1 inch cinnamon 1 medium-sized or 2 small Taj pitta  2 to 3 cloves 2 to 3 green cardamoms ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahjeera) . Add 1 teaspoon salt. Now add the soaked rice. Do not stir and you will see the temperature drops a bit after adding rice. Do not cover the pan while cooking rice .Keep the flame to high and cook the rice without lowering the heat. Boil the rice grains until they are 75% or ¾ cooked. They should have a bite when you eat them. 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. This is the marinated paneer after 30 minutes. 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. Add the marinated paneer and layer neatly .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 .Dot with 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee. You can add 1 tablespoon of rose water or kewra water at this step. Cover with an aluminum foil or with a moist cotton kitchen napkin. Place the lid tightly on the pan and place it on a tawa or skillet. For the first 5 minutes drum cook the paneer biryani on a medium heat. Later reduce the heat and cook the paneer biryani on drum for 12 to 15 minutes.

You can cook the biryani in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).Here’s the paneer biryani 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 pan watery or with any gravy or liquid, drum cook for 5 to 10 minutes more.

Enjoy paneer biryani hot or warm with raita like an onion-tomato raita or cucumber raita or bonda raita. You can serve with sliced onion-lime salad or onion-tomato-cucumber salad. Pairing it with curries like merci ka salon and bazaar baingan tastes awesome. Even a simple plain yogurt tastes nice with paneer biryani.

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