Indian cheese pilau


Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

The bland taste of paneer makes it an extremely versatile ingredient, as it can absorb any flavour quite easily. The cheese is used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and in each recipe it takes on a completely different taste and flavour. This pilau rice, Sanar Pulao, with wonderfully fragrant yet subtle spicing, really tingles your taste buds and satisfies your soul.


  • 225 g/8 oz/generous 1 cup basmati rice
  • 50 g/2 oz/4 tbsp ghee, or 15 ml/1 tbsp sunflower oil and 25 g/1 oz/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 225 g/8 oz paneer (Indian cheese), cut into bitesize pieces
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 cloves
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded if preferred)
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 115 g/4 oz frozen garden peas
  • 25 g/1 oz raisins
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp toasted flaked (sliced) almonds, to garnish


    1. Wash the rice in several changes of water by tossing and turning the grains gently in a sieve (strainer) until the water runs clear. Soak in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes, then leave to drain in the sieve.

    2. In a heavy pan, heat the ghee or oil and butter over a medium heat. Add the paneer and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

    3. Add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves to the remaining fat in the pan.

    4. Allow to sizzle for a few minutes, then add the onion and green chillies. Fry for 9-10 minutes, until the onion is a caramel-brown colour, stirring regularly.

    5. Add the rice and turmeric and reduce the heat to low. Stir-fry gently for 1-2 minutes, then and add the salt, browned paneer, peas and raisins.

    6. Pour in 450 ml/¾ pint/scant 2 cups water and bring it to the boil. Allow to boil for about 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low.

    7. Cover the pan tightly and cook the pilau for 8-9 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to stand undisturbed for 10 minutes.

    8. Fluff up the rice with a fork and transfer to a serving dish. Serve, garnished with the roasted almonds.