Paneer and Veg pulao and Boondi Raita

6:29 AM

Remember just a few months back I was talking about appointing a cook, well the news is she suddenly left the job this month due to shifting to another place. Which leaves me in a queer position not knowing whether to be happy or sad. 

Happy because she bunked most of the days especially on days when you needed her the most she would not be seen anywhere near our place. Also she used too much oil, read more than 7 liters per month for a family of four, and always made sure to cook a huge batch for us to eat leftovers for at least a couple of days. 

Its another matter that my husband believes that the most important reason that am happy with her leaving, is because I missed my kitchen. Well with the heat wave in kolkata I hardly have any energy left to fight with him but frankly am not too relieved to get the kitchen back. These few months have created a completely different routine for me. No cooking makes you free in so many ways that you can actually concentrate a lot in your work. frankly it's little hard for me now to get back to the routine and cook meals daily in this sweltering heat. but health comes first. and the truth is we cant handle such unhealthy food on a daily basis anymore.

So while I am slowly getting back to the routine, simple one pot meals are getting cooked at home a lot. I always  prefer to make it nutritious by including veggies and protein and to decrease the intake of carbs. Now I rely on a big salad on the sides. This simple vegetable and paneer rice is a quick recipe and when combined with cucumber raita and salad it becomes a perfect meal, light and healthy.

Paneer and Veg pulao
(Serves 3-4)

Paneer: 200 gms
Carrot: 1 large
Beans: cut in 1/2" pieces: 1 cup
Green Peas: 1/3 cup
Potato: 1 medium
Onion: 1 large purple onion
Raisins: handful
Nuts: handful (I used cashew, you can also use almond or pine nuts)
Ginger: 1/2" piece
Yogurt: 1/3 cup
Basmati or any long grain rice: 2 cups
Oil+ghee: 3 tbsp
Pepper: 1 tsp
cinnamon: 1" piece
Green cardamom 2
Cloves: 4
Kasuri Methi: 1 tsp
Sugar: 2 tsp

Wash the rice in several chnges of water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and dry on a piece of paper.
Peel and chop the veggies in small cubes.
Soak the raisins.
Finely chop onion and grate the ginger.
Cube the paneers, keep aside.
Whisk the yogurt very well till smooth. Best is to use homemade fresh yogurt which is not very sour.

Heat 1 tsp oil and fry the veggies with a pinch of salt till half done. Take out and keep aside.
Heat 1 more tsp of oil and lightly fry the paneer pieces with a pinch of salt, till they are golden on all sides.Take out and keep aside.
In the same pan add the broken cashew pieces and on low heat fry till golden. Take out.

Heat the rest of the oil+ghee and lightly crush pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Add to the oil and cook for a few seconds. When they start to splutter add the chopped onion. Cook till it's lightly golden (304 minutes). Add the grated ginger and a pinch of salt and cook till the raw smell is gone. Keeping the heat low add the beaten yogurt. Carefully mix in so that it does not split.

Sprinkle the kasuri methi on top and mix. When you see oil bubbles at the sides add the rice and carefully mix in. Add the fried veggies, paneer and mix again. Cook for 4-5 minutes till the rice grains changes colour (it would become whiter). Now add 4 cups of warm water to this.
 Mix and add salt and sugar to adjust the taste. Add in the cashews and raisins. If you wish add more pepper powder or chopped green chilli for the kick. Also add more kasuri methi or ghee if you want.

Stove top Method:
Crank up the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Cover tightly and decrease the heat so that it start to simmer. Cook for -10 minutes or till it is done and no water is left to be absorbed. 
Place a cloth towel on top and cover. Let it stand for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork and serve.

Microwave method:
Transfer the entire rice-veggies mix to a big microwave safe bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Make a whole at the center. Cook on high (900wt) for 15 minutes. Carefully check by removing a side of the cling wrap to check if the grains are cooked. if not cook for another 2 minutes check again and repeat till it's done. Mine gets done in flat 17 minutes. Take out the bowl and remove the plastic wrap. Cover with a clean towel and then place a plate on top of it. Let stand for 5 minutes, Fluff with a fork and serve with raita and salad.

Boondi Raita

Savoury boondi: 1/3 cup
Yogurt: 1 cup homemade fresh is best
Chili powder
Roasted cumin powder: 1/2 tsp

Buy the store bought savoury boondi packets. Soak it in 1/3 cup water for 2 minutes. In the meantime beat the yogurt till smooth. Pour in the boondi with all the water. Mix, Season with chili, salt and cumin powder. Serve immediately.

A Homemakers Notes:
Add more veggies like corns, cauliflower, broccoli etc. I prefer to eat seasonal so sticked to what are there in the market.

You can easily skip the onion part to make it pure vegetarian.

You can also add finely chopped onion, cucumber and chillies to the raita.

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  1. I completely agree on the reason to avoid cooks. Our experience was very similar wrt the oil and huge portions and lack of innovation/variety too. Happy sticking to one pot or simpler meals now. Summers we are trying more no-cook stuff relying heavily on fruits, raw salads, curd etc

  2. this is called comfort food...we women want to be everywhere which makes our schedule hectic :(...I understand your confusion

  3. loved the paneer pulao and the raita

  4. nice recipes.thank u for sharing this recipes with us.i will try to prepare this one....


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