Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paneer Biryani

Two days ago I found the blogging group Daring Kitchen. I decided to join their Daring Cook challenges. As luck would have it anyone who joins on the 15th or later has to wait a whole month before they are able to participate. They like to keep their recipe of the month a secret until it is revealed on the 14th of the month. I have to wait until the 14th of January.

I looked over their archives and decided I could try out some of their older challenge recipes. The challenge recipe for August 2013 was Biryani. That seemed like the perfect recipe to get the ball rolling.

The host of this challenge had provided multiple recipes but I didn't really care for any of them. The tried and tested ones had meat in them and the vegetarian ones were pulled off the internet. The host wanted everyone to try out a Bengali style biryani and I wanted to tryout something that had been tested in her kitchen so I decided to use the recipe for chicken biryani but substitute paneer for chicken. The end result was delicious!

I changed the recipe a little to suit the tastes of my family.

You will need
2 cups basmati brown rice
3 tbsp. ghee
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2 small cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cardamom pods
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
1 tbsp. biryani powder (I used Everest)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 14oz packets Verka low fat paneer, cut into 2 inch cubes
2 tbsp. yogurt
1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
1 serrano pepper, deseeded and minced

Cook the rice with 4-5 cups of water. Drain access water and keep aside. Heat the ghee in a large pan. When it melts add the cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Let them cook until fragrant. Do not let them burn. Add the chopped onion, tomato, ginger paste, minced garlic and salt to taste.

Cook on high heat until the onions turn brown. Add the cumin-coriander powder, turmeric powder and the biryani powder. Cook for a couple minutes. Add the paneer and mix well to coat the paneer with masala. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add fresh coriander and serrano pepper.

Add the yogurt and mix well. Let it cook covered for another few minutes. Turn off the heat. In a think bottomed pan layer the rice and paneer such that there is a layer of rice on the top and bottom. Steam for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with Raita.

While this recipe turned out to be delicious a few things I will do differently next time
1. Grind the Biryani masala - it has pieces of cinnamon and other spices that made it difficult to eat.
2. Use less paneer, instead of 2 packets use one 1 and 1/2
3. Use one more onion and tomato and cook them to make a fine masala. With the time and instructions given the masala was chunky.

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