1¾cupsWater (use 2 cups of water if cooking on stove top)
1"Ginger piece, coarsely chopped
3~4Green chilies, adjust as per your taste preference
2cupsFresh Mint leaves, packed
½cupFresh Cilantro, packed
3tablespoonsGhee or Unsalted butter or Canola Oil
1MediumOnion, thinly sliced
2teaspoonsGaram masala or Pulao/ Biryani masala
2tablespoonsLime/ Lemon juice
Combine rice and water in a bowl. Soak for at least 20 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine ginger, garlic, green chilies, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and herbs. Blend to a coarse paste consistency. Add just enough water, if needed, for the blades to move. Set aside.
Instant Pot Method:
Select 'Sauté' and when the pot is hot, melt the ghee/ unsalted butter/ oil. Add onion and cook for 3~4 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Stir in the ground paste and cook for 2~3 minutes or until it smells aromatic. Add the turmeric, garam masala, salt, lemon juice, paneer and soaked rice along with the soaking water. Stir to combine. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned stuck bits.
Place the lid on, lock it, and close the steam valve. Turn off Sauté mode and select 'Manual/ High-Pressure' and set the timer for 5 minutes.
When the timer sounds, natural release the steam for 10 minutes, quick release the remainder. Open the pressure cooker and gently fluff the rice. Serve hot.
Heat a medium size pan on medium heat. Melt ghee/ unsalted butter/ oil. Add onion and cook for 3~4 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Stir in the ground paste and cook for 2~3 minutes or until it smells aromatic. Add the turmeric, garam masala, salt, lemon juice, paneer and soaked rice along with the soaking water. Stir to combine.
Bring the mixture to a boil on medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and cook till all of the water is evaporated. This takes about 12~15 minutes.*
Leave it covered for 5~10 minutes. Then gently fluff the rice. Serve hot.
I recommend using basmati rice to make this pulao. But you can also make it with other medium or long grain rice. Just make sure to adjust the water in the recipe accordingly.
If you are not a big fan of mint, then add more cilantro or completely omit mint.
To make this a more wholesome dish, add 2 cups of chopped vegetables along with paneer. Potato, carrot, green beans, green peas etc. are all amazing in this pulao.
To make this vegan pulao, you can substitute paneer with tofu and sub oil for ghee.
Substitute paneer with cooked beans like chickpeas or black-eyed peas for another delicious twist.
If making the recipe on the stove top, resist the urge to open the lid to peek in while the rice is cooking.