How to Make Delicious Paneer Biryani – Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Delicious Paneer Biryani – Step-by-Step Guide

Paneer Biryani, with its aromatic blend of fragrant basmati rice, succulent paneer cubes, and an exquisite medley of spices, is a crown jewel in the realm of vegetarian Indian cuisine. This dish marries the creamy richness of paneer with the fragrant allure of biryani, resulting in a symphony of flavors that’s sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Originating from the heartland of India, Paneer Biryani has made its mark as a beloved classic, adored by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Its preparation may seem intricate, but fear not – with our step-by-step guide, you’ll be creating a mouthwatering Paneer Biryani in no time.

Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll need to make delicious Paneer Biryani:

For the Paneer Marinade:

  • 250 grams of paneer (cottage cheese), cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

For the Rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Water for soaking and cooking
  • 4-5 cups of water for boiling rice
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • Salt to taste

For the Biryani:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chili, slit lengthwise (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup mixed vegetables (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • A pinch of saffron strands (soaked in 2 tablespoons warm milk) – optional
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fried onions (optional, for garnish)
  • A handful of cashews (optional, for garnish)

Additional Items for Dum Cooking (optional):

  • Wheat flour dough or aluminum foil to seal the lid

Note: Adjust the spice levels and ingredients according to your personal taste preferences. You can also customize the recipe by adding or omitting certain vegetables or garnishes.


Paneer Marinade:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and salt.
  2. Gently add the paneer cubes into the marinade. Coat each piece evenly. Allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes. This step helps infuse the flavors into the paneer.

Preparing Basmati Rice:

  1. Rinse the basmati rice under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch.
  2. Soak the rinsed rice in water for about 30 minutes. This allows the grains to absorb moisture, resulting in fluffy rice.
  3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add bay leaves, green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the boiling water. Cook until the rice is 70-80% cooked. It should still have a slight bite. Drain the rice and set it aside.

Prepping Aromatics:

  1. Heat ghee or vegetable oil in a large pot.
  2. Add cumin seeds, allowing them to splutter. Then add finely sliced onions.
  3. Sauté the onions until they turn golden brown. This enhances the flavor of the biryani.

Cooking Tomatoes and Aromatics:

  1. Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a couple of minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  2. Incorporate chopped tomatoes and green chili. Cook until the tomatoes soften and the mixture forms a thick masala base.

Spices and Vegetables:

  1. Stir in coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala. Mix well to combine.
  2. If you’re using mixed vegetables, add them at this stage and sauté for a few minutes.

Layering the Biryani:

  1. Gently add the marinated paneer cubes and ensure they are evenly distributed.
  2. Layer half of the cooked rice over the paneer mixture.

Optional Saffron Infusion:

  1. If using saffron, soak a pinch of saffron strands in warm milk. Drizzle this over the layered rice. This adds a beautiful color and flavor to the biryani.

Finishing Touches:

  1. Sprinkle fresh coriander and mint leaves over the rice for a burst of freshness.
  2. Optionally, add fried onions and cashews for added texture and flavor.

Dum Cooking (Slow Cooking):

  1. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. If available, you can also seal the edges with wheat flour dough or aluminum foil to trap the steam.
  2. Cook on low heat for about 20-25 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld together.

Serving and Garnishing:

Step 1: Serving:

  1. Once the Paneer Biryani has finished cooking, carefully remove the lid or foil seal. The aroma of the biryani will be irresistible!
  2. Using a fork or a gentle spoon, fluff up the biryani gently. Be careful not to break the paneer cubes.
  3. Serve hot onto individual plates, making sure to include a generous portion of both rice and paneer in each serving.

Step 2: Garnishing:

  1. To add a final touch of freshness and flavor, garnish the Paneer Biryani with the following:
    • Fresh coriander leaves: Roughly chop a handful of fresh coriander leaves and sprinkle them evenly over the biryani. This adds a burst of color and a delightful herbaceous aroma.
    • Fresh mint leaves: Similarly, chop some fresh mint leaves and sprinkle them over the biryani. Mint leaves provide a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the dish.
    • Fried onions (optional): If you have prepared fried onions, scatter them over the top for a crunchy and savory element. They add a delightful texture to each bite.
    • Cashews (optional): If you’ve included cashews in your garnish, strategically place them around the biryani for an extra touch of luxury and crunch.

Step 3: Presentation:

  1. Arrange lemon wedges or slices around the edges of the serving platter. This allows your guests to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to their servings, if desired.
  2. Place a sprig of fresh mint or coriander leaves in the center of the platter for an elegant finishing touch.
  3. Serve your Paneer Biryani with love and pride! It’s a dish that’s not only delicious but also visually appealing.

Tips and Tricks:

  1. Use Fresh Ingredients:
    • Fresh paneer, aromatic spices, and quality basmati rice are key to a flavorful biryani.
  2. Marinate Paneer Well:
    • Allow the paneer to marinate for at least 30 minutes. This helps infuse the flavors and keeps the paneer tender.
  3. Soak Basmati Rice:
    • Soak the rice for about 30 minutes before cooking. This ensures the grains cook evenly and don’t turn mushy.
  4. Fluff Rice Carefully:
    • When handling cooked rice, use a fork to fluff it gently. This helps prevent clumps and ensures each grain is separate.
  5. Layering Technique:
    • Layering the rice over the paneer and spices helps distribute the flavors evenly.
  6. Dum Cooking:
    • Cooking the biryani on low heat with a tight-fitting lid (or sealed with dough/foil) allows the flavors to meld beautifully.
  7. Control Spice Levels:
    • Adjust the amount of red chili powder and green chilies to suit your spice preference.
  8. Fried Onions and Cashews:
    • Frying onions and cashews separately and adding them as a garnish provides a crunchy contrast to the dish.
  9. Saffron Infusion (Optional):
    • Soaking saffron strands in warm milk and drizzling it over the biryani adds a luxurious touch of color and flavor.
  10. Fresh Herbs:
    • Using fresh coriander and mint leaves as garnish elevates the aroma and appearance of the biryani.
  11. Lemon Wedges:
    • Serving with lemon wedges allows diners to add a zesty kick to their servings.
  12. Experiment with Vegetables:
    • Feel free to add your favorite vegetables like peas, carrots, or bell peppers to enhance the nutritional profile.
  13. Customize Spice Blend:
    • Adjust the blend of spices to suit your personal taste. Some may prefer a spicier biryani, while others may prefer milder flavors.
  14. Sealing with Dough or Foil:
    • If possible, use a dough or foil seal during dum cooking to ensure the steam is trapped, resulting in a more flavorful biryani.
  15. Preparation and Organization:
    • Prepping all ingredients in advance and having them ready makes the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable.
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