A delicious and mouth-watering Biryani that is going to fetch you rave reviews from your family and friends when you serve them this subtly spiced and moist Paneer cooked in Makhani gravy, layered with rice, infused with smoke and cooked in Dum method.
Dear readers, in the culinary landscape of Indian cuisine, Biryani is one of those revered dishes that finds itself equally popular amongst the elites and the general masses. Just as you would need an eye of a fine art connoisseur to appreciate the work of Picasso, magic of biryani needs to be discerned by an ardent food connoisseur.
Biryani has always been my favorite one-pot meal, one that I prefer cooking for a special occasion notwithstanding the exhaustive list of ingredients and elaborate preparation steps. A special occasion calls for a specialty dish and what could be more special than a well-cooked Biryani.
Though the Biryani Purists are often dismissive of Veg Biryanis and would dismiss even the term ‘Veg Biryani’ with utter disdain. A blog that I read last about why Veg Biryanis must not be referred as Biryanis on a reputed website, the writer states that foodies must realize that there is no such thing as Vegetarian Biryani. At best it can be stated as Veg Pulao. I don’t really subscribe to the thoughts stated in that article. I never tend to agree with anything that reeks of exclusivity or elitism and that is what the article reeks of. Food must be all inclusive, something that transcends all barriers and not that creates it.
Quite recently I was out for a dinner with my family in a North Indian restaurant that has opened recently few blocks away from our house. My diet often doesn’t permit me dining out and if at all I have to eat out due to social commitments, I prefer eating soup and tandoori starters. However, that evening I was out shopping for my family and as it happens, as a part of our ‘post-shopping’ ritual, we decided to dine out. I decided to advance my cheat-day by couple of days and went for a full course meal. Karol Baug, as this place is named, had never disappointed me on past occasions when I opted for a simple soup and starters course. However, it was the first instance when I was trying out their other dishes. I was more than impressed with these dishes, a dish that stood out in particular, that evening was this Biryani- Paneer Makhani Biryani. What impressed me most was the soft and juicy Paneer, gently fried till it attained a light crisp coating on its surface, perfectly cooked in a Makhani (buttered) gravy, layered along with cooked long grain and aromatic Basmati rice, slow cooked in Dum method of cooking. I was absolutely dazzled with this biryani.
My endless affection for Biryani must be evident to you dear viewers and it manifests itself through several recipes that are part of Biryani playlist. While it goes without saying chicken biryani, prawn’s biryani and mutton biryani are my absolute favorites, I would like to put this on record how much I cherish my Veg Biryani recipes. A well-made Vegetarian Biryanis fascinate me more than any other recipes, which explains why I am on constant lookout for such Biryanis. I think viewers on my YouTube Channel also have a special affection for Vegetarian Biryanis- Aloo Dum Biryani is one of the popular videos on my channel, both in terms of most-viewed and the watch time.
With this Paneer Makhani Biryani, I was fortunate that I didn’t need to practice it much like other Biryanis and I was able to perfect the recipe in first trial. I am more than sure that your family would love this Biryani when you make it for them. A delicious and mouth-watering Biryani that is going to fetch you rave reviews from your family and friends when you serve them this subtly spiced and moist Paneer cooked in Makhani gravy, layered with rice, infused with smoke and cooked in Dum method.
- 400 gms Cottage Cubes
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Pinch of Turmeric Powder (1/8th tsp)
- 3-tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- ½-tsp Garam Masala Powder
- 1-tsp Dry Coriander Powder
- 1-tsp roasted Cumin Powder
- ½-tsp Sugar
- 1-tsp dried fenugreek leaves
- 1½ Cup=300 gms Long Grain Basmati Rice-washed and cleaned thoroughly. Soak for 30 minutes in clean water
- 4 Green Cardamom
- 3-4 Cloves
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ½-inch Cinnamon stick
- Onion Masala Paste: -
- 1 Large=100gms Onion chopped
- 5-6 Cloves of Garlic
- 1½-inch Ginger root
- 3 Green Chilies
- 2-tbsp Fresh Coriander Leaves
- Cashew Paste: -
- ¼th Cup=18-20 Cashewnuts-soaked in lukewarm water for 30 mins
- Tomato Paste: -
- 3 medium sized=200gms Tomatoes-chopped
- ¼th-tsp Cloves
- ¼th-tsp Black Peppercorns
- 1-inch Cinnamon stick
- 1-star anise
- 1-tsp Cumin Seeds
- 3 Green Cardamom
- ¼th-tsp Mace
- For Layering: -
- ¼th Cup Fresh Coriander Leaves-finely chopped
- ½ Cup Brown Onions
- Few Saffron threads-soaked in 2-tbsp lukewarm milk
- 2-tsp Ghee
- 2-tbsp Fresh Cream
- Cooking Oil
- For Dhungar/Smoking: -
- 1 Large piece of Charcoal
- We will start with cooking rice. In a large pan, boil 7-8 cups of water. For 1.5 cups of rice, we use 5 times water-approx. 7-8 cups. When water begins to boil, add Cloves and Green Cardamom. Add Cinnamon stick, Bay leaf, 2-tsp Salt, 1-tsp Cooking Oil. You can Oil with Ghee. Oil prevents cooked rice grains from sticking with each other.
- Add rice to water. Strain well before adding to water. Cook on medium-high heat until rice gets cooked till 90%.
- We have cooked rice for 7-8 minutes. Rice is 90% done now. Strain cooked rice and spread in a large plate. Spread rice in a large plate. This prevents grains from sticking together in Biryani.
- Now, we will make Tomato paste. In a large pan, put tomatoes. Add green cardamom, mace, cumin seeds, cloves, star anise and cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns. Add ½ cup of water, pinch of Sugar. Allow water to boil on high heat. Reduce the heat and cook covered.
- We have cooked tomatoes on low heat for 15 mins and it has become soft now. Remove from heat. Strain water and allow the masala to cool down completely. Make a fine paste of tomatoes and masala.
- We will now make Onion masala paste and Cashew paste. In onion paste, we will take Onions, coriander leaves, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Grind into a fine paste. We have soaked cashewnuts in lukewarm water. Make a thick Cashew paste.
- All 3 pastes are now ready. We have used 1-tbsp water in Cashew paste. For Onion paste, we have used 1-tbsp water. Tomato paste is also ready. We have used the reserved water for making its paste.
- Now we will fry Paneer pieces in a pan in 4 tbsp Oil. Fry on medium heat until it becomes lightly brown. We have fried Paneer for 10 mins on low-medium heat until it has become slightly brown in color. Remove from Oil.
- Add 2-tbsp Cooking Oil in a pan and let it heat. Add 1-tbsp butter. We are now making Makhani gravy and butter plays an important role in this gravy. Add Bay leaf, Onion masala paste. Add Turmeric powder and cook until we get rid of the raw fragrance.
- We have cooked masala paste on medium-high for 5 mins. As you can see, it begins to leave the pan. Add red chili powder, garam masala powder, cumin powder and dry coriander powder. Cook this masala for few mins. If it gets dry, add some water and cook again.
- We have cooked masala for 3-4 mins. Now, add Tomato paste and mix well. Now add Cashew paste. Always ensure you loosen cashew paste in 2 tbsp water before adding it to the pan. Adding thick cashew to pan will make it lumpy. Add 2 tbsp water, Salt to taste. Now, we need to cook masala paste. Cover and cook.
- We have cooked masala for 6 mins. We can see oil oozing out from sides of the pan. Add ¼th tsp Sugar to balance flavors of gravy. Now add Paneer pieces and coat well with masala. Add ½ cup water. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 mins.
- Uncover after 2 mins. We will not cook masala more than this. We need this gravy for layering Biryani. Now add coarsely crushed roasted fenugreek leaves and mix well. Add 2 tbsp fresh cream and mix well. Remove from heat. Let's now layer the biryani.
- Take a large Handi for layering Biryani. Smear the Handi with Ghee- bottom and the sides. Put half of Paneer gravy. Add some brown onions. Add half quantity cooked rice. Remove whole spices before adding rice to pan. Make a rice layer. Add some saffron milk. Add brown onions and chopped coriander leaves. This completes the first layer. Similarly, make second layer.
- Layering is now complete. Let's prepare for Dhungar/smoking of Biryani. Put a piece of charcoal on fire and heat till it becomes red. Add 1 tbsp Ghee on hot coal and cover the Handi for 30sec-1 min. Uncover after 1 min and remove the coal. Seal Handi with a Aluminum Foil. You can also seal with dough. Place lid and cook on high heat for 3 mins.
- We have placed Handi for 3 mins on high heat. We will also place an iron griddle on high heat. After 3 mins, transfer the Handi on iron griddle and cook on low heat. We have cooked on Dum for 7 mins on low heat.
- Let's remove the foil. Be careful of heat trapped inside.
- Juicy and moist Paneer Makhani Biryani is ready to be served.
- The smoky flavored Paneer Makhani Biryani is now ready. If you like you can eat it without any accompaniments-trust me it's so delicious. You can also serve this Raitas- Burani raita, Boondi raita, Aloo Pudina raita. Check our Raita playlist.
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