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Biryani, but Make it Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani

Biryani, But Make It Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani
5 min read

Today I am sharing one my very favorite recipe with all of you, Tandoori Paneer Biryani! A mix of basmati rice, tandoori paneer, tandoori onions and veggie mix along with yogurt, mint, Kasuri methi, saffron and a whole lot of spices. Everything is layered up and cooked inside a dutch oven to make a perfect vegetarian biryani!

Biryani, But Make It Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani

Biryani is the powerhouse of Indian food, the exciting aromas, the beautiful vibrant colors, the fluffy long grain basmati rice and the thrilling flavors. This version of the biryani is inspired by tandoori flavors. Many biryanis are made with some kind of meat or only vegetables. I wanted to give it a little twist and decided to add baked tandoori paneer to it. To continue the tandoori flavors, I loaded the onions with tandoori masala and butter!! There are so many other veggies in this recipe along with yogurt, mint, Kasuri methi, saffron and a ton of spices.

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Biryani, But Make It Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani

Tandoori Paneer Biryani Ingredients:

Paneer Marinade

  • 28 oz Paneer – cubed
  • ½ cup Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
  • 3 tbsp Tandoori Masala I used National Chicken Tandoori Masala (the spice mix is vegetarian!)
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tbsp Dry Mint or fresh!
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp Grated Ginger

Tandoori Veggie Mix

  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Large Onion – sliced
  • 2 cup Frozen Mixed Veggies corn, peas, carrots, string beans
  • 2 tbsp Tandoori Masala I used National Chicken Tandoori Masala (the spice mix is vegetarian!)
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
  • ½ cup Plain Whole Milk Yogurt

Partially Boiled Rice

  • 2 cup Uncooked Long Grain Basmati Rice
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 3 Cloves
  • 3 Whole Peppercorn
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3 Whole Green Cardamom
  • 1 Whole Black Cardamom
  • 1 tsp Oil or Ghee

Additional Ingredients

  • ½ cup Whole Milk
  • 20 thread Long Saffron
  • ½ tsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dry Mint or Fresh!

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Biryani, But Make It Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani

Tandoori Paneer Biryani Method:

Marinate Paneer Overnight

  1. Mix all ingredients but paneer listed under “Paneer Marinade” in a bowl. Add cubed paneer to it and carefully coat paneer pieces with the marinade. Keep it in the fridge overnight or 6-8 hours. The longer it marinates, the better it tastes!
  2. Once marinated long enough and before you are ready to layer the biryani, preheat oven on 400°F. Layer marinated paneer on a greased baking tray. Bake it for 18-20 minutes. Take it out of the oven once baked and keep it aside.

Partially Boil Rice

  1. Wash and soak basmati rice for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Add soaked basmati rice and everything listed under the “Partially Boiled Rice” ingredients into a big deep pot.
  3. Add 5-6 cups water to the pot and partially boil the rice.
  4. Once boiled, strain the water out using a strainer. Run cold water through the rice just for a few seconds and strain it completely. This will stop the cooking process. Keep it on the side, leaving the rice in the strainer, it helps getting rid of most water from the rice.

Prepare Tandoori Veggies

  1. Heat up 4 tbsp of butter in a dutch oven or heavy/thick bottom deep pan.
  2. Once butter is melted add bay leaves, sliced onions, 2 tbsp of tandoori masala and 1 tsp of salt. Mix it well and keep cooking until the onions are translucent. Take your time with this step. Cooking onions in butter and tandoori masala on low/medium heat for long enough will bring the best flavor out!
  3. While onions are cooking, run the frozen veggies though warm/hot tap water a few times and let them sit in the warm water for 3-4 minutes. This will thaw the veggies well. Once thawed, strain the water out with a strainer and keep it aside.
  4. Once onions are completely translucent, add thawed mix veggies to it. Mix well and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
  5. Add Kashmiri 1 tsp salt, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala and Kasuri methi to the veggies. Mix well and cook for a couple more minutes.
  6. Turn the heat off and add ½ cup of yogurt to tandoori veggies. Mix well and take half of the mix out in a bowl.
  7. Mix ½ cup of hot water, 20 ish long thread of saffron and ½ tsp sugar in a bowl and keep it aside.

Layering everything

  1. At this point, we have half of the tandoori veggie mix in the dutch over/heavy-bottomed deep pan with no heat on. Spread it out evenly at the bottom of the pan with the help of a spoon. Keep the heat off the whole time you layer your biryani.
  2. Layer half of the baked marinated paneer cubes on top of the tandoori veggie layer.
  3. Layer half of the partially boiled rice on top of the paneer layer. Push the rice down lightly using the back of the spoon.
  4. Evenly pour half of the saffron milk on the rice layer. I like to pour one spoon at a time evenly everywhere on the rice.
  5. Sprinkle dry min or fresh chopped mint after pouring the saffron milk.
  6. Repeat the same layers one more time, rest of the tandoori veggies on top of rice, saffron, mint layer. Rest of the baked paneer cubes on top of tandoori veggies. Rest of the rice on top of the paneer layer. Drizzle rest of the saffron milk. That is all. No need for another mint layer.
  7. Again press the top rice later down lightly using the back of the spoon. Over the dutch oven or your pan tight enough so it holds the steam inside.
  8. Cook the layered biryani on low flame for 20 minutes. Everything is mostly cooked, except rice. Rice is also partially cooked so it does not take too much heat for the rice to cook completely. Once you turn the heat off, let the pan/dutch oven covered for another 20-30 minutes.
  9. Garnish it with fresh cilantro and pomegranate. Serve it with onion raita, side of fresh onions, lime wedges and paapad!

Biryani, But Make It Vegetarian: Tandoori Paneer Biryani

This biryani is very flavorful and satisfying, definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for gathering! This is one of those strong recipes I have in my recipe book and will be serving it to my friends and family over and over! How about you?!?!

This recipe was originally posted on My Vegetarian Roots and reposted here with permission.

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