Paneer Rice Pulav (Rice Pilaf)

Paneer Fried Rice

Between doing my full time job, occasional photography jobs for Yubit, coming up with recipes and updates to my blog, spending time with my wife and daughter, my time gets used up pretty quickly. Trying to balance all of them sometimes gets complicated. One of them has to take the hit and it usually is my cooking and blogging. The last two weeks were crazy and I did not have time to work on my blog and hence the reason for not putting up a recipe last Thursday. Last weekend, my daughter and wife had to go to an event and it took the opportunity to cook up a storm in the kitchen. I hit some cookbooks and cooking magazines and wrote down some of the things I wanted to make. I made quite a few things – paneer rice pulav, kulfi (Indian ice cream), coconut curry with potatoes and few others. The 3 recipes came out tasting excellent but the “others”, not so much. I guess I will have to try them again with different variations.

Paneer Fried Rice
Even though I had grown up eating Pulao or Pulav, I was not sure what the origin was. So hit Google search and this is what I found. Pulav is an aromatic rice dish usually made with meat. It was brought to India by the mughals when they invaded India long time ago. As is always the case, every time the invaders bring in new spices or dishes to India, be it the Mughals or Portuguese or Britishers or whoever, the dishes get blended with Indian culinary traditions. The result is usually an excellent tasting dish blended with various Indian spices. Pulav is no exception. The vegetarian version, made with lots of spices and nuts and in this recipe, Paneer, which is an Indian cheese (see picture above of pan fried Paneer). You can buy Paneer either in Indian grocery stores or from an organic food stores. If you live in the USA, you can get paneer from Whole Foods.

Paneer Fried Rice

While I was making Pulav, my daughter wanted to help me with taking the photos, cutting onions and cooking the pulav. She did an excellent job cutting the onions uniformly. She wanted to arrange the spices in a fun way that looks like a face and so here is the result below.

Paneer Fried Rice

Be careful not to burn them even though I have given approximate time for cooking the spices, due to variations in cooking ranges, your times may vary.

Paneer Fried Rice

Paneer Fried Rice

Make sure to use Indian Basmati Rice (NOT Texmati). Basmati Rice is an aromatic long grain rice that is traditionally used in Indian cooking for making Biryanis, Pulavs etc.
Paneer Fried Rice

Paneer Fried Rice

Paneer Fried Rice

Best eaten with Churri (herbed yogurt) – recipe below

1 cup basmati rice
1/2 lb paneer, cut into cubes (approx. 20-25 pieces)
2 potatoes, cut into cubes

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup oil + 2 tbsp ghee or butter

2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dried, red, whole chillies
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 inch cinnamon stick
3-4 cloves
3-4 peppercorns
2 brown cardamom

4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, grated

15-20 cashews
1 teaspoon salt

Wash basmati rice in 3 washes of water and soak in a bowl with 2 cups of water for an hour.

In a non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Pan fry the paneer cubes till they are lightly browned on all sides by turning them. It should take approximately 3-4 minutes. Next, pan fry the potato cubes till they are browned and cooked. This should take approximately another 4-5 minutes.

In another pan, add the ghee and oil mixture on medium heat. Fry the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, whole red chillies and cardamom. Cook for approximately 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the sliced onions and cook till they are light brown. Add the ginger, garlic, red chili powder, cashews and cook for approximately 2 minutes.

Drain the rice and add to the spice mixture and stir well. Add 2 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the browned paneer and potato pieces and stir.

Enough for 4-6 people

Churri (Herbed Yogurt)


1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small pan over low heat, dry roast the cumin until fragrant and light colored. Let it cool and then grind to a powder in a spice grinder. I use a coffee grinder for grinding spices.

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well.

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