Aromatic and flavorful paneer pulao! This is such an easy Indian rice dish that pairs perfectly with just about any kind of dal, it’s great with raita too. This paneer rice is super easy to make, it has a delicious and rich, saffron flavor. Plus, kids and adults alike love it, because it has paneer (Indian cottage cheese) in it.
In the step by step photos below, I have made this in a pan on the stovetop. I have also shared a method on how to make paneer pulao in instant pot.
Amazing Paneer Pulao Recipe (Rice)
My family loves this paneer rice and I love that it’s one of those things we can all agree on. Nothing fancy, nothing too bold just simple, mild-flavored rice with such a beautiful aroma of spices.
This paneer pulao recipe is little different than usual pulao recipes. Most of the time garam masala or pulao masala is added. But this is not the case here. We are only using whole spices which makes the pulav really aromatic.
One more great thing about this paneer rice is that the rice is infused with saffron. Yes, saffron-infused milk is added while cooking the rice. So each and every rice grain absorbs the saffron flavor and becomes golden yellow in color. Plus, this saffron flavor pairs really well with mild paneer.
The addition of fresh mint leaves and cilantro gives such a bright and refreshing touch to the pulao.
Keep in mind that this paneer pulao is mild (not spicy) but not bland. Pair it with a right side dish and you will surely enjoy it. My favorite side dishes for paneer rice are dal makhani, dal fry, dal tadka.
Ingredients for paneer pulao recipe:
- Basmati rice - Always use good quality Basmati rice. Because basmati rice has long grains and is very fragrant once cooked. Aged basmati rice gives very good results. I have good experience with Tilda, Royal, and 24 Mantra organic basmati rice.
- Paneer - I always buy paneer from Indian grocery stores (in the frozen section). I like following brands Nanak, Brar’s, Gopi. Sometimes, I find them in my Costco. Occasionally I make paneer at home.
- Saffron - It is known as Kesar in Hindi. Use the good quality saffron. I prefer this one. Add just a few strands of it and it makes the whole dish very aromatic and flavorful. To get the best out of it, saffron must be infused into the warm milk/water before adding.
- Ghee - To get the rich flavor ghee is used. To make it light, you can use oil.
- Whole spices (cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, mace)
- Onion, ginger, and garlic
- Herbs (mint and cilantro)
How to make Paneer Pulao?
1) First, wash the rice under running cold water until water runs clear. Then soak them in enough water for about 15-20 minutes.
2) Then discard the soaking water and drain it completely in the colander.
3) While rice is soaking, also soak the saffron strands in the warm milk for 10-15 minutes. I have warmed up the milk in the microwave.
4) Heat the ghee in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add whole spices (cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, mace). Saute for a minute or till you get a nice aroma of spices.
5) Now add chopped onions and sprinkle the salt to speed up the process. Mix well and cook till onions get translucent or light pink and soft.
6) Add ginger paste and garlic paste. Mix and saute for a minute or till the raw smell of ginger-garlic goes away.
7) Now add rice. Stir well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
8) Add water and saffron-milk mixture. Stir well and let it come to a rolling boil.
9) Cover with lid and let it cook on LOW for 17-18 minutes. Then turn off the stove and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
10) Meantime, saute the paneer. Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add paneer cubes.
11) Once it gets light brown in color, flip then and cook another side. Do not let it get brown too much otherwise, paneer will become chewy.
For a variation or if serving to guests, you can fry some cashews and almonds, add to the pulav.
12) After 10 minutes of resting time, open the lid.
13) Now add the sauteed paneer into the rice. Also, add chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves.
14) Stir gently so paneer and rice do not get mushy.
How to make Instant pot paneer pulao?
- To make this pulao in instant pot (6 Qt and 8 Qt), please double the amount. If using 3 Qt, then you can follow as mentioned quantity.
- Wash and soak the rice. Also, infuse the saffron in warm milk.
- Turn the instant pot on saute mode, add ghee. Once it is hot, add whole spices and saute.
- Then add onion, ginger paste and garlic paste. Saute till onions are soft.
- Add rice, water, salt, and saffron-milk. For 1 cup of basmati rice, you will need 1 ½ cups of water.
- Close with the lid, keep the valve to sealing, cook on manual (high pressure) for 5 minutes.
- Then do QPR.
- Saute the paneer on the stovetop in a pan as shown above.
- Add that to the cooked rice along with mint and cilantro.
BEST Paneer Pulao Recipe (Paneer Rice)
For sauteing paneer:
- 1-2 teaspoons Oil
- ¾ to 1 cup or 75-100 grams Paneer small cubes
For paneer pulao:
- ½ cup Basmati rice
- few strands Saffron
- 2-3 teaspoons Milk
- 1 tablespoon Ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 Cloves
- 2 Green cardamoms
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ inch Cinnamon stick
- 1 Black cardamom
- 1 strand Mace (Javitri)
- ⅓ cup Red onion chopped finely
- ½ teaspoon Ginger paste or freshly grated or crushed
- ½ teaspoon Garlic paste or freshly grated
- Salt - to taste
- 1 cup Water
- 1 tablespoon Cilantro or coriander leaves finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Mint leaves finely chopped
- First wash the rice under running cold water till water runs clear.
- Then soak them in enough water for about 15-20 minutes.
- After soaking time, discard the water and drain it completely in the colander.
- While rice is soaking, also soak the saffron strands in the warm milk for 10-15 minutes. I have warmed up the milk in microwave.
Making paneer pulao recipe:
- Heat the ghee in a pan on medium heat.
- Once hot add whole spices. Saute for a minute or till you get nice aroma of spices.
- Now add chopped onions and sprinkle the salt. Mix well and cook till onions get translucent or light pink and soft.
- Add ginger paste and garlic paste. Mix and saute for a minute.
- Now add rice. Stir well and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add water and saffron-milk mixture.
- Stir well and crank the heat on high.
- Once it starts boiling, lower the heat to the lowest possible.
- Cover with lid and let it cook on LOW for 17-18 minutes.
- Then turn off the stove and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Sauteing the paneer:
- Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot add paneer cubes.
- Once it gets light brown in color, flip then and cook another side.
- Now add the sauteed paneer into the rice.
- Also add chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves.
- Stir gently so paneer does not get break.