• Kishan Desai

Paneer Biryani

Biryani is one of my favorite rice dishes in Indian Cuisine. There are many many versions of Biryani, the more traditional versions contain some sort of meat protein. For this recipe, I have used Paneer, but you can use any type of protien you would like.


  • 16 oz of cubed Paneer

  • 4-5 cups of half cooked Basmati rice

  • 1/2 cup of Yogurt

  • 2 cups of deep fried Onions

  • 1 cup of diced Onion

  • 1/4 of Mint leaves

  • 1/4 cup of Cilantro

  • 3 Bay leaves

  • 1-2 Tbs of Coriander Powder

  • 1-2 Tbs of Cumin Seeds

  • 1 Tsp of Black Pepper Corns

  • 4 Star Anise

  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks

  • 4-5 Whole Green Cardamom

  • 2 Tbs of Garlic Paste

  • 2 Tbs of Ginger Paste

  • 1 Tbs of Green Chili Paste

  • 1 Tbs of Kashmiri Red Chili Powder

  • 1/2 Tsp of Turmeric Powder

  • 1/2 Tsp of Nutmeg

  • 1/4 cup of Vegetable Oil

  • 1-2 cups of Water

  • 2 diced Tomatos

  • Juice of half a Lemon

  • 1/4 cup of Saffron Milk (2-3 pinches of Saffron in 1/4 cup of milk)

  • 4-5 whole Serrano Peppers

  • Salt to Taste


Begin by cooking your rice half way. You dont want to fully cook your rice as it will finish cooking in the oven. I typically cook my rice half way, and then rinse it in cold water and set it aside. Rinsing it will not only stop it from cooking further, but it will also rinse out the excess starch which will ensure that your Biryani wont get gushy.

Now in a large sauté pan, start by heating your oil on medium heat. Add in your dry spices (cinnamon, bay leaves, star anise, cardamom, black peppercorn, and cumin seeds). Lightly fry the spices and then add in your diced onion. Cook your onion and spices until you have a nice golden color to your onion. Then go ahead and add in your salt, turmeric, coriander powder, garlic paste, ginger paste, and chili paste. Cook until garlic and ginger start to lightly brown. Now add in your cubed paneer and cook until the paneer has lightly browned on the outside. Now go ahead and add in your tomato. Cook your masala until the tomato starts to break down. I like to mush my tomato with the back of my spoon to release the juice. Once your tomato has cooked for 2-3 minutes, add in your lemon juice and kashmiri red chili powder. Mix everything well and then add about 1 cup of water. You can add more water if you feel that your masala is too thick. Let the masala cook for about 10 min on a simmer, stirring occasionally. At this point, you can preheat your oven to 300 degrees and prepare your baking vessel. I like to use a dutch oven. After 10 minutes of simmering are up, add in your chopped mint and chopped cilantro. You can save a bit of both herbs to garnish the top of your Biryani. Now go ahead and mix in your yogurt and nutmeg. Cook your masala for another 5 minutes and then swtich off the gas and let it cool slightly.

Once your masala has cooled a bit, remove the whole spice from your mixture. Now its time to layer your Biryani. Place a layer of rice on the bottom of your baking vessel, then place a layer of your paneer masala, followed by a thin layer of fried onions. Continue. layering your Biryani, ending with a layer of rice and fried onion on the top. Then pour over your saffron milk and garnish your biryani with mint leaves and cilantro. You can place serrano peppers on the top of your Biryani if you like things spicy.

Then close the lid and place it in the oven for about 10-15 min. It shouldn't take long for the rice to finish cooking. Once it has finished cooking, serve your Biryani with a side of plain yogurt or your favorite Indian pickles.

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-Kishan Desai

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