Paneer Pulao Using a Special Pulav Masala
Pulao is usually my go-to dish when I am running short of time or I cannot think of what to make for dinner. Rice is always comforting and a smattering of vegetables added to it, makes it reasonably healthy. Paired with plain yogurt or a raita, it makes a fairly balanced vegetarian meal.
When my client Pure and Sure sent me their special Organic Pulav Masala, I wanted to try something special with it. So when we were to have friends over for dinner, I jumped on the idea of making a paneer pulao, where paneer is not only added to the pulao when it's cooking but also pieces of marinated shallow fried paneer as a topping over the pulao.
The special Pulav Masala contains cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf, chilli powder, cardamom, turmeric, clove and mace. It is quite possible for such a spice mix to get overwhelming, but this masala has a fine balance of spices, taking care of the proportion of the more intense ones.
Do ensure that the quality of paneer used is fresh and soft, otherwise, the pieces can stand out as rubbery knobs in a bed of rice, and that doesn't make for a pleasant dining experience. I speak out of personal experience :)
I have used the Jeera rice variety, also called Ambemohar rice, as it has a lovely fragrance and this rice is much suited to making pulaos. Use basmati rice if you like though. Try making this paneer pulao / pulav for your next dinner party, paired with a simple cucumber and mint raita for the main course.
This recipe serves 6-8 people for a dinner party, typically 8, if you have more dishes on the menu.
- Wash and soak the jeera / ambemohar rice in plenty of water for 20 minutes.
- Finely slice onions. Peel and dice carrots. Deseed and chop the bell pepper into squares. Peel and dice potato into cubes. Dice 200 grams paneer into cubes.
- Chop the remaining 200 grams paneer into cubes and marinate in a large bowl with oil, red chilli powder, turmeric, yogurt, 1/2 tsp salt, gram flour. Keep aside.
- In a large heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee. Add all the whole spices.
- Once the spices puff up / crackle, add the sliced onions, diced carrots, potatoes and bell peppers. Saute for 30 seconds. Add the diced (plain) paneer. Stir well. Add the green peas, pulav masala, salt (2.5 tsp) and stir to mix.
- Add 4 cups of water. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, stir well, cover and cook on a low flame for 10-12 minutes, until water is absorbed and rice is cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp oil in pan. Remove the marinated paneer pieces with a slotted spoon. Drain off excess marinade and shallow fry the pieces on medium flame until golden brown on all sides. Do not fry for too long, or they will turn rubbery.
- Remove the cooked pulao in a large platter. Arrange golden paneer pieces over the top. Garnish with fresh coriander.
The pulav turns out incredibly fragrant and the vegetables in red and green stand out like jewels. The paneer pieces inside the pulao are succulent, while the shallow fried ones provide a crispy element to the dish. You can also use baked / fried bread cubes as a substitute to the shallow fried paneer pieces.
This post is in collaboration with Pure and Sure - using their Organic Pulav Masala.The Pulav Masala can be ordered here. You can find them on Facebook. You can shop their products from Pureandsure.in
The only good paneer brands in Bangalore are Milky Mist and Mother Dairy (when available). I have experimented with lots of brands that they are all poor in flavour and turn rubbery on cooking, so best to stick to a trusted brand of paneer.