Paneer – 250gm, cut into small cubes
Yogurt – 1/4 cup
Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Basmati rice – 1 cup
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cinnamon – 2″ stick
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 3 pods
Bay leaves – 2, dried
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Red onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Water – 1 1/2 cups
Salt – to taste
Cilantro leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped
Ghee or oil – 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 5-6
Golden raisins – 8-10
Onion – 1/4 cup, thinly sliced
Marinating paneer: In a small bowl, mix together paneer and other marinade ingredients. Set aside while you prep the pulao.
Making pulao: Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 minutes.
In a large pan or pressure cooker, heat ghee. Add whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cumin seeds) and allow them to sputter.
Now add onions and saute till lightly golden. Then add ginger-garlic paste and saute till raw smell goes away.
Add tomato paste, if using, and saute for a few more seconds.
Now add the paneer cubes, shaking off excess marinade and mix well.
Add drained rice and mix well to coat with the spices.
Add water to the bowl with leftover marinade and mix well. Add 1½ cups of liquid to the pan along with salt and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook covered till rice is done. This takes around 20 minutes for a covered pan. If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium-high heat for 2 whistles and allow steam to be released naturally before opening the lid.
Open the lid and gently fluff the pulao.
Garnish: In a small pan, heat ghee. Add cashews and raisins and fry till golden. Drain and set aside. Then add onions to the ghee and fry them a dark brown color.
Garnish prepared pulao with fried cashews, raisins and onions just before serving. Serve with raita or curry of choice.