Paneer Matar Pulao
2 cups basmati rice, dry
400 grams paneer
1 cup green peas (frozen works great)
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, finely chopped
4 green chilis, finely chopped (change as needed based on spice tolerance)
2 tbsp curd (can sub ricotta, yogurt, etc)
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 tsp garam masala
¼ tsp turmeric powder
3-4 bay leaves
Small amounts of whole spices: cinnamon, star anise, mace, cardamom
Handful of coriander / mint leaves (parsley works great as well)
Ghee / high heat oil
Wash the basmati rice in a bowl until the water is no longer cloudy. Once this is done, Cover the rice in water again and leave it to soak for 30 minutes.
Cut the paneer into equal sized cubes. In a large bowl, combine them with the turmeric, 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garam masala, and a pinch of salt. Mix well until all the pieces are nicely coated, then set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Take about 2 tbsp of ghee to a medium pot and heat it over medium high heat. After the fat has heated up, put in the spiced paneer pieces. Flip them every minute or so until they are nicely fried and browned on as many sides as you can get before your pot looks like it will burn, then remove the paneer and set it aside.
Add in 1 tbsp of oil to the same pot and add the assorted whole spices, cumin seeds, bay leaves, onion, and green chilis. Saute this mixture until the onions are transparent, stirring periodically.
Add in the ginger garlic paste and saute for another minute, then add the tomatoes and mix well. Add in the curd, 1 tsp chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, 1 tsp garam masala, and salt to taste. Mix everything well to get everything incorporated.
Add in the peas, coriander / mint leaves, and paneer, mixing again. Lastly, drain the basmati rice of its soaking liquid and add it into the pot along with 2¼ cups of water, mixing everything again.
Bring the pot to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until all of the liquid in the pot has steamed off and cooked the rice. This may take more or less time depending on your pot and your stove, so be sure to check every 5 minutes or so the first time you make this to ensure nothing is burning at the bottom during the cooking process.
After resting the finished Paneer Matar Pulao for 5 minutes or so off heat, you’re ready to serve. Serve hot and enjoy with any choice of sides.
This Indian rice pilaf is very flavorful and works great as a side or even a main entree. With ‘pulao’ meaning pilaf in Hindi, ‘matar’ meaning pea in Hindi, and the firm paneer cheese, the combination of these three main components creates a very satisfying eating experience. A great one pot dish that is best served with raitha, a lentil dip, and flatbread of your choice. The spices in here are recommended, but feel free to substitute or leave out anything based on your tastes and what’s in your pantry.