Paneer Biryani made in the Instant Pot – this one pot meal has basmati rice cooked with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and fragrant spices.
Makes a comforting and hearty one-pot meal. Serve with a side of raita or yogurt.Paneer Biryani has paneer (of course) and some beautiful spices making it extremely fragrant.
Let’s see what all ingredients make this paneer biryani recipe special!
✔ Rice: So, I have used basmati rice here. That is what is traditionally used in making biryani.
The long grain fragrant basmati rice is what you need here. You can either find basmati rice online or at any grocery store. Most Indian stores have a big bag of it.
✔ Paneer: The main ingredient of this biryani is paneer, the Indian cottage cheese.
I have used store bought paneer here. I always soak my paneer in warm water for 20 minutes before using in the recipe.
That makes it really soft. For this recipe, I marinated the paneer with some yogurt and spices, let it sit it the refrigerator for 30 minutes and then used in the recipe.
The marination gives the paneer cubes more flavor.
✔ Spices: The flavor of the biryani comes from all the wonderful spices that are used in it.
Note: the biryani masala that I have linked here might say that it’s for chicken or other meat biryani, but the masala itself is vegetarian. It’s only spices!
Saffron– this not only gives the biryani color but also a wonderful aroma.
Rose water or kewra water– either of these give biryani a wonderful aroma and I highly recommend using one of them in the recipe.
Other than these, the recipe also uses some whole spices like cardamom, bay leaf, peppercorn, cloves etc.
✔ Fried Onion: now, I love fried onion in my biryani. I sauteed them first in the Instant Pot until they were brown and then used half while pressure cooking the rice and half of it to garnish before serving.
Indredients for Paneer Marinade:-
- 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt use thick yogurt
- 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon biryani masala or use garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 225 grams paneer cut into cubes, around 1.5 cups cubed paneer.
Indredients for Paneer Rice:-
- 1 cup basmati rice 200 grams, soaked 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon milk with pinch of saffron strands (for saffron milk)
- 2 tablespoons ghee divided
- 1 medium red onion thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 cloves
- 4 green cardamom
- 5-6 black peppercorns
- 3/4 teaspoon shahi jeera or use cumin seeds
- 1.5 teaspoon chopped ginger
- 1.5 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoons broken cashews
- 1.25 cups water 10 oz, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon biryani masala or use garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 teaspoon rose water or kewra water
- chopped cilantro to garnish
- pomegranate arils to garnish.
Methods for making Paneer Biriyani:-
- To a large bowl add yogurt and whisk it until smooth. Then add ginger-garlic paste, coriander powder, biryani masala, paprika, red chili powder, salt, chopped cilantro. Mix it well.
- Then add the paneer cubes. Mix until all paneer cubes are coated with the marinade. Cover and chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile rinse the rice until water turns clear and then soak it in 2 cups (16 oz) water for 30 minutes. Drain the water after 30 minutes using a colander and set the rice aside.
- Add pinch of saffron strands to 1 tablespoon of warm milk and set aside.
- Start with the process of making the biryani after the paneer has been marinated for 30 minutes and rice has been soaked for 30 minutes. You can start sauteing the onions before the 30 minute mark.
- Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon ghee. Add sliced onion to it. Saute for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often until onions are browned. Once the onions are browned, remove them from the pot. Please note if your IP is prone to BURN message, do this step on a pan and not in the IP.
- Then add the remaining tablespoon of ghee in the pot. Add the whole spices (bay leaf, cloves, green cardamom, peppercorns & shahi jeera) and let them sizzle.
- Then add the chopped ginger, garlic and cashews. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until garlic, ginger and cashews start changing color.
- Stir in the marinated paneer and toss. Add 1/4 cup (2 oz) water and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula. Make sure there’s nothing stuck at the bottom of the pot.
- Then add remaining 1 cup (8 oz) water and rice.
- Add the biryani masala, salt, 1/2 of the fried onion and the prepared saffron milk on top. Also add the rose or kewra water.
- Close the pot with the lid. Press the manual or pressure cook button. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then do a quick pressure release.
- Open the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Place paneer biryani on a serving plate, top with cilantro and remaining half of the fried onion. You may also add some pomegranate arils on top. Serve with a side raita or yogurt.