Paneer pulao is a fragrant, delicious and mildly spiced paneer rice dish made with freshly ground pulao masala, basmati rice, onions, spices, herbs and paneer (Indian cottage cheese). This freshly made pulao masala brings in a lot of flavors and makes it taste top-notch than your regular pulao. Make this easy paneer pulao for your weekend lunch or dinner.
Table of Contents
About Paneer Pulao
A pulao or pilaf is a one pot rice based dish made in various ways. I make some pulao variants often like Vegetable pulao or Peas pulao or Mushroom pulao. Being a one pot dish, they are so easy and quick to make. I just have to serve it with a raita, mango pickle and some roasted papad or a side veggie salad.
I have experimented with pulao many times, since I make it so often. On occasions, I make a pulao masala and sometimes I just add whole spices to the pulao. I have made pulao masala with a different mix of spices.
I have also added birista (caramelized onions) in the pulao. Different spices give different results. A really good pulao, I had made recently was Jackfruit Pulao with a slightly different cooking technique.
For this paneer pulao, I have ground whole spices to make a fragrant pulao masala. It is this masala, that gives a nice aromatic flavor to the pulao.
Paneer is bland and generally pulao, besides being aromatic is also bland. Hence, I have spiced this paneer pulao a bit, like the way I usually prepare vegetable pulao.
I add ginger-garlic-green chili paste and some mint leaves. Spiced, meaning the pulao is not spicy, but has that hint of green chilies in it. If you want a spicy pulao, then just increase the quantity of the green chilies.
To make the pulao, I have Made the Paneer at home or you can also use store bought paneer. Just make sure that the paneer should not be very soft so that it does not crumble while pan frying. Use a seasoned pan while frying, so that the paneer does not stick to the pan. You can also use a non stick tava.
As a variation, you can add peas or even mixed vegetables in this paneer rice recipe. I have mentioned in the steps, where to add peas in the pulao.
I sometimes get queries, on what is a single strand of mace. The following photo mentions a single strand of mace. This pulao masala can be added to the pulao only once.
Serve paneer pulao hot garnished with some mint or coriander leaves and a few pan fried paneer cubes. You can also serve cucumber raita or onion tomato raita. This paneer rice dish would also go equally well with dal fry or dal tadka.
Few more delicious recipes you can make with paneer and rice together are:
How to make Paneer Pulao
1. in a small dry grinder or coffee grinder, add all the spices for making the pulao masala.
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
- 1 black cardamom – seeds removed and husks discarded
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms – kept whole or seeds removed
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 single thin strand of mace
- A small piece of stone flower (optional)
2. Grind or blend to a fine powder. Keep aside.
3. Rinse the basmati rice till the water becomes clear of the starch. Soak the basmati rice in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes drain the water and keep the rice aside.
Instead of basmati rice you can also use any non-sticky long grained rice. If possible preferably use aged basmati rice for the best texture and aroma.
4. Crush 1 inch ginger, 2 to 3 garlic cloves and 1 green chilli to a paste in a mortar pestle.
Making Paneer Pulao
5. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee or oil in a pot or a pan. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and saute for 2 to 3 seconds. Then add the thinly sliced onions.
Instead of pan, you can also make this paneer pulao in Instant pot or stovetop pressure cooked adding water as required.
6. Saute on low to medium-low heat stirring often till the onions start to turn golden brown or caramelize.
7. Then add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste that we have prepared earlier at step 4.
Sauté for some seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. (on low heat, it will take approx 10 to 15 seconds).
8. Add the chopped mint leaves and the ground pulao masala. Stir for 5 to 8 seconds.
Optional step – if you are adding green peas (fresh or frozen), then add now and saute for 2 to 3 minutes further. The combination of peas with paneer goes well.
Additionally feel free to add a few vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, potatoes or capsicum to make a more flavorful and healthier paneer rice dish.
9. Add the drained rice. Stir gently and saute for a minute. So that the ghee coats the rice grains evenly.
10. Add 3 to 3.25 cups water or as required, 1 to 1.25 teaspoon lemon juice and salt as required.
11. Stir and mix well.
12. Cover the pan tightly with a lid. Make sure no steam escapes from the sides. Cook the rice on low to medium heat. If the water dries in the pan then add some more water. Simmer till the rice grains are cooked and tender.
12. When the rice is cooking, chop the paneer into cubes. Heat ghee on a tawa or skillet or a frying pan. Use a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned tawa/griddle to pan fry the paneer. Otherwise, the paneer cubes will stick to the pan.
Add the paneer cubes and pan fry till light golden. Don’t over fry as then they will become dense and rubbery. Keep the pan-fried paneer cubes aside.
14. Once the rice is cooked, tender and all the water has been absorbed then switch off the heat. Allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes.
Then add the pan fried paneer cubes and gently mix them with the rice. Cover the pan again with a lid and allow the paneer to be in the rice for another 5 minutes. This makes the paneer soft and they also absorb the aroma of the pulao.
15. Serve paneer pulao hot or warm garnished with some mint leaves and a few pan-fried paneer cubes. You can also serve paneer rice with a raita or Dal Fry or Dal Tadka.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more veetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Paneer Pulao | One Pot Easy Paneer Rice
For the pulao masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera) – optional
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds – optional
- 1 black cardamom – seeds removed and husks discarded – optional
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms – kept whole or seeds removed
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 1 single strand of mace
- 1 small piece stone flower (rock flower or pathar phool or kalpasi) – optional
For paneer pulao
- 1.5 cups basmati rice or pulao rice
- 250 to 300 grams Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
- 1 onion medium to large, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup green peas – optional
- 2 tablespoon Ghee or oil for the pulao
- 2 to 3 teaspoons Ghee or oil for pan frying paneer
- 3 to 3.25 cups water or add as required
- 1 inch ginger + 2 to 3 garlic cloves + 1 green chilli – crushed in a mortar-pestle to a paste
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 1 to 1.25 teaspoon lemon juice – optional
- 1.5 to 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- salt as required
Making the pulao masala
- In a small dry grinder or coffee grinder, add all the spices mentioned: “For the pulao masala“.
- Grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
- Rinse the basmati rice till the water becomes clear of the starch.
- Soaked the basmati rice in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 to 30 minutes drain and keep the rice aside.
- Slice the onions thinly. Chop the mint leaves and keep aside.
- Crush the ginger, garlic and green chilli to a paste in a mortar-pestle.
- Heat ghee or oil in a pot or a pan. Add the bay leaf and saute for 2 to 3 seconds.
- Then add the thinly sliced onions and saute till the onions start to turn golden brown or caramelize.
- Then add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger garlic goes away. (on a low heat, it will take approx 10 to 15 seconds).
- Add the chopped mint leaves and the ground pulao masala. Stir for 5 to 8 seconds.
- Optional step – if you are adding peas (or other veggies like potatoes, carrots, cauliflower etc) then add now and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the drained rice. Stir gently and saute for a minute. Add water, lemon juice and salt as required.
- Stir well. Cover the pan tightly with a lid. Make sure no steam escapes from the sides.
- On a low to medium heat, simmer till the rice grains are cooked. If the water dries in the pan then add some more water.
Making paneer pulao
- When the rice is cooking, chop the paneer into cubes.
- Heat ghee on a tawa or a frying pan or skillet. Use a non-stick pan or a well seasoned tawa/griddle to pan fry the paneer. Otherwise the paneer cubes will stick to the pan.
- Add the paneer cubes and pan fry till light golden. Don’t over fry as then they will become dense and rubbery. Keep the pan fried paneer cubes aside.
- Once the rice is cooked, tender and all the water has been absorbed then switch off the heat. Allow the rice to sit for 5 minutes.
- Then add the pan fried paneer cubes and gently mix it with the rice.
- Cover the pan again with a lid and allow the paneer to be in the rice for another 5 minutes.
- This makes the paneer soft and it also absorbs the aroma of the pulao.
- Serve paneer pulao hot or warm garnished with some mint leaves and pan fried paneer cubes.
- You can serve raita or dal fry or dal tadka with the paneer pulao.
- Use fresh and soft homemade paneer or a good brand of packaged paneer.
- Try to make this dish with aged basmati rice if possible for a fluffy tender non-sticky texture in the rice. Alternatively, you can also make it with non-sticky long-grained rice.
- This is not a spicy recipe. But if you want to make a spicy paneer pulao then increase the amount of green chilies.
- Instead of ghee you can use oil.
- To make a vegan version swap paneer with tofu and ghee with a neutral flavored oil.
- You can opt to add veggies like carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, french beans, green peas (fresh or frozen) and sweet corn.
- Add 2.5 cups water for separate grains and for a more soft texture of rice, add 3 cups water.
- Pressure cook pulao for 2 to 3 whistles.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Paneer Pulao post from the archives (July 2014) has been republished and updated on 26 September 2021.
hi dassana..hope you are doing well.thanks for this wonderful recipe..I tried today and Alhamdolillah it had turned out very tasty..mouth watering..hopefully will write again soon..take Care
Welcome Zainab. Glad to know that paneer pulao came out well.
Awesome . Made for lunch today
It looks great.let me try.
sure usha thankyou 🙂
Made this for lunch. It was yummy! I didnt have stone flower, mace or caraway but still it was delicious! Thanks Dassana! 🙂
welcome sneha. good to know this.
tried this pulao last night..n it came out delicious! thanks for all the nice recipes..
Excellent recipe Dassana. Have made this paneer pulao quite a few times in the last two weeks….I absolutely loved this recipe. You are an amazing cook and thanks for sharing your talent!!!
welcome deepti. thanks for sharing positive feedback on pulao and for your kind words.
The Paneer Pulao was much more easy than presumed. As always, thanks to your commendable ways of presentation. The aroma itself was sufficient to get the feel of the taste that the dish had. You’ve really mastered the art of cooking and sharing those important insights with your readers to make their life easier and making them too enjoy cooking is very much appreciated.
thanks again hemanth for your kind and motivating words.
i will try this!!
I like the receipes. Simple, easy and delicious.
Very tasty, easy and quick to make it. I added 1 cup frozen veggies and 1/2 cup each peas and edamame shelled
thanks for the feedback. veggies and edamame must have boosted the nutrition in the pulao.
Hi! Simply awesome Dasanna! I followed your recipe to the T and it turned out to be really yummy. Thank you so much
Good Evening Dassana!
Im a great fan of yours and have been following your blog religiously for last one year. I must admit, your recipes are just too tempting with such lovely pics.
Could you please confirm if stone flower and star anise are same?
welcome smriti and thanks for your kind words. they are different. stone flower is called as pathar phool/dagad phool and star anise is called as chakra phool in hindi.
thanks smriti. stone flower and star anise are different. i have recently updated goda masala recipe post. you can check in the pics both of them.
Jsk. Thank s a ton. Reading itself smells delicious. Looking forward to many more moyth watering recipes.
I am just trying to post a comment but just unable to. Not sure why?!
Could you please advise from where I can get stone flower/rock flower? If I just leave that out, will it change/effect the flavor a lot?
Please advise. waiting for your response.
stone flower will be easily available in maharashtra, india. you can also try if they are available online. it gives a subtle aroma and flavor to biryanis and pulao. if you don’t have then just skip it.
The pulao looks incredible. I love adding fresh masala, must have given such a nice aroma.
Yummilicious pulao… Loved the fresh masala