Vegetarian Paneer Machboos

A one dish meal made with rice that is now a family favorite. Machboos is a classic Arabic dish. I used paneer to make it vegetarian. Though machboos is usually cooked on the stove top I found this baked version that tastes just like the original. This spicy rice filled my kitchen with a lovely aroma. One word to describe its taste - delicious. The leftovers the next day were just as good.

My daughter loves anything with paneer. So when I was wondering whether to use potato or paneer to make this dish vegetarian she made the choice easy. The amount of spice used is a little too much by my usual standards, I usually use spices sparingly while cooking. In fact when I was making machboos I was sure it was not going to be edible. But then I realized rice and paneer are bland. No other vegetable is used. The flavor of the spices absorbed by the rice and paneer makes the dish. Don't skimp on the spices.

Recipe adapted from here
You will need for three servings
8 oz. paneer
2 cups of vegetable stock
3-4 strands saffron
1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
1 onion
2 tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. bezar powder (recipe below)
1 cup basmati rice (I used brown basmati)
salt to taste

To make bezar powder roast separately equal portions of whole cumin, fennel, coriander and pepper corn, a half inch stick of cinnamon and one red chilli pepper. When cool grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container in your pantry.

Mix all the spices, cinnamon powder, turmeric powder, paprika and bezar powder together. Reserve half for later, use half to spice up the paneer.

Preheat oven 400 F. Wash the rice and drain. Keep aside. Make paneer or use store bought. Cut it into large rectangles and sprinkle one side with half of the remaining spice powders. Heat oil in a pan. Place the paneer in the oil spiced side down. Sprinkle remaining spices on the other side. When brown flip and brown other side. Remove and place on paper towel.

Add saffron to the stock in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 2 minutes or until heated through. Keep warm. Chop the onion and saute the onion in the same pan as the paneer was cooked. Meanwhile mince the garlic and chop the tomato separately. When the onions are tender add the garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the reserved spices. Combine well and add tomato. When heated through turn off the heat. Add the rice and mix together to coat the rice with onion tomato mixture.

Transfer to a casserole. Cut the paneer into cubes and place over the rice.

Pour the stock over the rice.

Cover with aluminium foil. Bake in the preheated oven for one hour. Take a peek. If the water is not all absorbed keep for another 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Take it out of the oven and keep covered for a few minutes before serving.



  1. This is similar to our pulao. Looks delicious. I like one pot meals and looked at this recipe. We have totally cut down on rice, except for biryani once a week. I did not want to experiment and replace my only rice menu of the week with any other rice dish. Ended up doing a beverage for Q

  2. That's simply superb Varada, love the texture and colour..I might simply make this on PC..:)..everybody at home loves this has to be made!

  3. beautiful rice and good tip on not skimping the spices, i realised it while using only paneer based biryanis..the bezaar spice is so key to middle eastern flavors..i used similar for my shwarma

  4. One pot meals are the best when served on Sunday Lunch...we all like such dishes..the paneer looks rich in this dish and very tempting...noted ma'am.

  5. What a flavorful and delicious one pot dish.

  6. Looks perfect Varada and like ur daughter my kids love anything with paneer!


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