This Paneer Peas Pilaf is one of my favourite rice dishes in my repertoire.
I am not a big rice fan but I love to cook different rice dishes and often they go really well with all sorts of curries, grilled chicken or fish that way I don’t have to cook rotis.
My husband is a North Indian but he prefers rice over rotis (flatbreads) which is unique because roti is a staple in North India.
Pilaf used to be a special dish in my home in India, my mum always made it on festivals, special occasions and dinners. I still remember the way she would make it in her special pan, frying all the vegetables, assembling the rice parched in ghee. The aroma of warm nutty ghee, whole spices and grain basmati rice would make our whole house smell heavenly. It was indeed a special thing and we all used to be a merry little family.
However that has changed now, that special basmati rice for pilaf has become our staple now. I am living out of India from past 11 years. For 9 long years in Japan I didn’t see any other variety apart from basmati rice and we got used to eating it everyday.
Basmati long grain rice was a luxury for us back in the days as it used to be quite expensive and often was used for special dishes. In fact most of the small cities we lived in, the best quality wasn’t even available. Mum used to plan the ration and buy it for the whole year from the wholesale market. I remember sometimes we used to get the specific variety of basmati rice from big cities and carry that 20 kilo gunny sack with us. Crikey, makes you wonder how the technology, internet has changed our lives and maybe unknowingly we are taking it for granted.
Now in Singapore many different varieties of rice are available but we still prefer eating the basmati rice.
The traditional pilaf recipes are cooked slightly different than this. Usually we cook the rice with all the vegetables, stock and fat. There are 2 things in that, the rice has a lot of starch so in my opinion it’s not that healthy and you do have to add more fat in order to cook the rice fluffy. And as you lot can see I mostly prefer healthy recipes. Because I boil the rice in water and then wash it, most of the starch is washed off and the texture is just perfect.
So do give this simple Paneer peas pilaf a try and serve it with any curry of your choice.
- 1 ½ cup long grain basmati rice
- 200g paneer cut in cubes
- 100g green peas defrosted
- 150g or 2 onions thinly slices
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp or to taste green chilli paste
- 1 tbsp yoghurt
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 bay leaf and cinnamon stick
- 2 green cardamoms
- A few peppercorn and cloves
- Salt to taste
- Handful of coriander finely chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp oil
- A pinch of saffron
Boil 2 litres of water with salt and oil. Add the rice and cook it till it’s 80% done. Strain it well and wash it in cold water to stop cooking. Keep it aside in the strainer so the water is completely drained.
In a saucepan add the ghee and whole spices, let them splutter. Add in the onions and saute for 5 minutes till the onions are golden. Add in the ginger, garlic and chilli paste. Mix it well and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Add in the yoghurt, black pepper powder and saffron. Mix well and add the paneer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the garam masala and rice.
Very carefully without breaking mix the rice. Add a small blob of ghee and cover for 2-3 minutes.
In another pan add the oil and saute the green peas with a pinch of salt. Add the hot sauteed green peas to the rice. Mix it well.
Garnish the rice with fresh coriander and serve with your favourite curry.