Biryani is a medley of rice, vegetables (or meat) & spices and it is a popular rice dish in India, Srilanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries in south Asia & central Asia. Traditionally biryani is cooked over hot coal in a sealed cooking pot allowing the aroma of spices permeated into the vegetables & rice (this method of cooking in low heat is known as “Dum” process). But nowadays we can cook biryani using slow cooker, or bake in the oven or as shown here.
Although I like both pressure-cooked biryani & dum biryani equally, I feel so exhilarated to find every grain of Basmati rice nicely puffed out during dum process. I never miss to include paneer (cottage cheese) in dum biryani as paneer can be enjoyed at its best in terms of texture, flavor & aroma.
Now the recipe for paneer dum biryani is as below:
- Basmati rice – 1½ cups
- Paneer – 100 g
- Any neutral oil – 1/3 cup
- Bay leaf – 1 No.
- Star Aniseed – 1 No.
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Curd – ½ cup
- Saffron (soaked in a tbsp of warm milk) – few strands
- Salt – 1½ tsp
- Onion (minced ) – 2 Nos.
- Ripe tomatoes – 2 Nos.
- Carrot (large) – 1 No.
- Beans – 10 Nos.
- Fresh peas – ¾ cup
- Potato (medium sized) – 1 No.
- Mint leaves – a handful
- Onion – 1 No.
- Green chillies – 4 Nos.
- Ginger – 2″ piece
- Garlic – 8 Nos.
- Cloves – 9 Nos.
- Cardamom – 2 Nos.
- Cinnamon – 2 Nos. (each 1″)
Preparing vegetables & spice mix: (Time taken: 10 min) Wash vegetables and chop them as shown below and grind spices into a smooth paste without adding water.
Biryani rice: (Time taken: 10 min) Wash & cook rice as shown below after adding half a teaspoon of salt and keep aside.
Biryani Masala: (Time taken: 10 min)
- Heat a heavy bottom cooking pot with oil in medium flame.
- Fry bay leaves & star aniseed for few seconds.
- Add minced onions & paneer cubes and saute until onions are caramelized.
- Add all chopped vegetables, red chilli powder & turmeric powder and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Add half a teaspoon of salt and mix well.
- Add chopped tomatoes & spice-mix and saute until amalgamated.
- Add mint leaves, curd & half a teaspoon of salt and cook in low flame for a minute.
- Remove from heat and keep aside.
Dum Process: (Time taken: 15 min)
- Heat a cast-iron dosa tawa and place the same cooking pot on top of it enabling biryani cooked in low heat.
- First we start with a layer of vegetables followed by rice and again another layer of vegetables & rice.
- Finally pour saffron milk and close the pot with a lid.
- Seal the pot using wheat flour (or plain flour) dough to prevent the steam escape.
- Place a heavy object over the lid to keep it in its place.
- Simmer for 15 minutes and remove from heat.
- Open the pot after scraping the hard dough.
- Gently mix rice & vegetables with a wooden spatula.
- Serve hot paneer biryani with raita of your choice.
Tips & Tweaks:
- You can also add vegetables like baby potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. that taste extremely delicious while cooked in dum process.
- Authentic dum biryani recipe uses thinly sliced onion than minced onion. But I prefer to use minced onion as it requires less oil to caramelize them.
- Since dum process does not require much oil you may even reduce further to ¼ cup.