Vegetarian Paneer Biryani cooked with fragrant long grain Basmati Rice and Indian Cheese Paneer. This flavor packed Biryani is so easy to make and absolutely delicious. Paneer Biryani Recipe cooked with Butter Chicken Masala.
What is Biryani?
Biryani is a magical combination of some generously spiced Meat or Vegetable and Rice. Biryani is cooked until the aroma of the delicious curry meets the fragrance of Basmati Rice. Get creative and play with Biryani spices and your favorite protein. I have used Indian Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese) for this recipe.
Story Behind This Paneer Biryani
Any good occasion called for Ammi's Biryani in our home. I grew up seeing Ammi, khalas(mother's sisters), Mami(wife of mother's brother) and other women of my family always experimenting with different ingredients for Biryani recipe.
My Biryani recipe is inspired by women of my family. They never fail to amaze me in the kitchen. Following their foot steps, I decided to experiment Biryani with Paneer and it became family favorite. Fried Paneer slathered in tomato based curry, then layered with Basmati rice.
What's in My Paneer Biryani Recipe
This recipe is slightly different than a traditional Biryani Recipe. Instead of using Biryani-Masala I have used Butter Chicken Masala blend for this recipe. Great balance of my favorite carb and dairy based protein makes the flavor packed Biryani.
Paneer- Paneer is an Indian Cheese made by curdling the milk. It is firm yet creamy in texture and mildly sour in taste. It is easily available at any local Indian Grocery stores in America.
Butter Chicken Masala
Wait what? Butter Chicken Masala? Yes! Butter Chicken Masala. That lusciously Creamy Paneer Curry using Butter Chicken Masala spice blend create an entirely different flavor in this Paneer Biryani recipe.
I have used boxed Butter Chicken Masala blend for this recipe. Butter Chicken Spice blend is vegetarian diet friendly. Boxed butter Chicken Masala spices are easily available at any local Indian Grocery store.
Homemade Biryani Masala
I have used my homemade Biryani Masala for this recipe. I vote for Butter Chicken Masala based Paneer Biryani in taste. Click here for the Biryani Masala Recipe If Butter Chicken Masala Isn't for you.
Basmati Rice- I highly recommend using aged long grain Basmati Rice for Biryani. Aged long grain rice fluffs up beautifully with each separate grain.
Yogurt- I only recommend using creamy Indian yogurt for your Biryani recipe. It has perfect creamy consistency with the right amount of water for your Meat Curry. No Greek Yogurt substitute for Biryani. Sorry!
What to Serve Paneer Biryani with:
We love serving Biryani with Yogurt Raita Sauce.
Also try Meat Biryani for an authentic Biryani experience.
For Vegan option: One-Pot Spicy Vegetable Rice Recipe
The Best Paneer Biryani Recipe
- 1 12 Oz block of Paneer
- 2 cups Basmati Rice
- 1 large chopped Bell Pepper
- 4 chopped medium Tomatoes
- 1 thinly sliced large Onion
- ½ cup Oil , for frying onion and paneer
- 3 tablespoons Ghee
- ½ cup plain Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
- ¼ cup fresh chopped Cilantro
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped Mint
- 1 package Butter Chicken Spice mix , use half package for less spicy
- 8-10 count Saffron threads
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 6-8 Whole Peppercorns
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 6 Green Cardamom Pods
- 6 Cloves
- ¼ teaspoon Caraway Seeds ,Black Cumin Seeds
- 2 Green Chilies , optional
- 1 Lemon juiced
- Salt to taste
- Wash the rice under running water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in the water and set it aside. Soak Saffron into 2 tablespoons hot water and set it aside. Cut the paneer into ½ inch cubes.
- Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Fry half of the sliced onions until golden brown and set it aside for garnish or you may use ready-made non-coated fried onions. In the same oil, fry Paneer until golden brown. Remove the Paneer and set it aside.
- Add ghee, half of the cardamom pods, half of the peppercorn, 1 cinnamon stick, and bay leaves and cumin seeds to the same pot we fried paneer with. Sauté for a few seconds then add half of the thinly sliced onions. Cook onions until golden brown.
- Now add chopped tomatoes and cook them until tomatoes soften. Add bell pepper and sauté it for a few seconds then add Butter Chicken Masala or Biryani Masala. Stir and mix the spices well.
- Now add fried paneer to the tomatoes and mix gently until the paneer is well coated. Turn off the heat and set the Paneer Curry aside to cool down.
- Meanwhile, Bring 8 to 10 cups of water to a boil in a large pan on high heat. Add remaining whole spices, green chilies, a generous squeeze of lemon juice, I like to add a teaspoon of oil or ghee to the boiling water but it's completely optional and salt to taste.
- Add rice to the boiling water. Cook on medium heat until rice is al-dente. It shouldn't take more than 6-8 minutes to cook the rice so stick around the pan to prevent overcooking.
- Drain the rice in a colander and set it aside. Whisk yogurt then add yogurt, heavy cream, cilantro, mint, and fried onions to the Paneer Curry. Mix it gently.
- Now layer the rice on top of the Paneer Curry in an Oven Safe Pan or a thick bottom pot. Drizzle the saffron water evenly on rice.
- To bake the Biryani in an oven, preheat the oven at 365 F. Bake the Biryani at 365 F for 25 minutes.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and cover it with a pan lid. Bake the Biryani on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes with a thick bottom skillet under the biryani pan to prevent burning.
- Serve it hot with Yogurt Cucumber Raita.
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