Palak paneer pulao is a simple, aromatic, flavor packed meal or a great side that is perfect to serve for any occasion. The flavor, color, and the nutrition makes this the best of all.
This rice based dish is made with palak aka spinach, peas and paneer which give it a well balanced nutrition profile which is a win-win situation for all people. This would be a delicious addition to your holiday table as you have spinach based rice side to serve.
To make this flavorful pulao, the following ingredients are essential:
Basmati rice - Fragrant long grain basmati rice imparts the best aroma and the rice has a perfect texture for pulao. Any rice could be swapped to make this pulao.
Spinach - fresh spinach is used on this recipe that boosts color as well as nutritional value.
Cashew - Nutty and adds texture. For a nut free version, this can be omitted.
Salt - Gives flavor.
Water - to cook rice.
Paneer - this semi-soft non melting cheese has a chewy and creamy texture and enhances protein.
Green peas - Frozen green peas are used in this recipe that adds to the protein profile. Fresh peas can also be used.
Onion, ginger, garlic - These add to the aroma and flavor.
Spices - Bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, whole black cardamom, star anise, and cumin add to the flavor and aroma.
Thai green chili - This adds to the spicy heat. The count of chilies can be adjusted based on flavor preference and heat tolerance.
This recipe can easily feed hungry persons as this is a complete meal by itself. When serving as a side, this can serve up to 12 people or more depending on individual choice for portions. Hence, this is a perfect one to make for entertaining this holiday season.
For variations, try different grains, but make sure to adjust water quantities for perfect cooking. Paneer can be replaced with tofu for a vegan version.
Basically, I like simple and easy meals that are nutritious too. This spinach pulao is a great one to have in your menu often for its simplicity, taste, and nutrition. Spinach and Paneer Orzo Pasta is a similar version, but one-pot pasta meal that is equally comforting. Yet another tasty and protein packed meal is the multigrain and power greens Power Khichdi, which is simpoly out of the world. This no onion no garlic version of Kale Channa and Paneer Pulao is a great one to make if you have guests with food restrictions. These can be a great side for any occasion.
Rice - 1.5 cups
Oil - 4 tbsp
Cumin - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 2 in piece
Cardamom - 3
Bayleaves - 2
Star anise - 2
Onions - 1 and ¼ cup, sliced
Garlic - 5 or 6 cloves
Ginger - 2 -in piece
Thai green chili - 2 to 6
Spinach - 5 cups
Water - 2 cups
Paneer - 1 and ¼ cup, diced
Peas - 1 cup
Salt - 1 and ¾ tsp
Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes.
Grind ginger, garlic, Thai chili to a smooth puree with 2-3 tablespoons water.
Heat three tablespoons of oil and fry the cashews until golden brown set aside. To the same oil, add the spices and fry for 30 seconds.
onions and saute for 4 minutes until onion begins to turn translucent. Add the ginger-garlic-green chile paste and sauté until nice aroma appears.
Drain the rice and add it to the onion mixture and saute for 2 minutes.
In the meantime, puree spinach with a cup of water.
Add the spinach puree, rinse the blender with another cup of water and add it to the rice, followed by frozen peas and salt. Mix well, cover and cook for 7 minutes until 70% of the water is absorbed by the rice.
In the meantime, pan-fry the paneer cubes with a tablespoon of oil.
Add it to the rice, mix, cover, lower the flame and cook for 15 minutes. Switch off the flame and let it sit in its steam for another 10 minutes.
Add the fried cashews, gently fluff with a fork.
Transfer to a serving bowl, serve hot or warm with raita.
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