Indian Streetfood & Indo Chinese · Rice Dishes

Paneer Tawa Pulao

Tawa pulao could essentially be indian equivalent of asian fried rice. Leftover rice sautéed on high heat with vegetables, protein and spices, what’s not to love! Tawa pulao is a popular street food in western parts of India(Mumbai) and its one of the best ways to use up leftover rice in my opinion. Together with green chilies, fresh herbs, vegetables and pav bhaji masala, it makes for one delicious and quick weeknight dinner especially if you have cooked rice ready to go.

As the name suggests, tawa pulao is made on tawa -a flat round pan which is popular in indian cooking for making rotis, shallow frying, making savory cheelas and roasting as well. Indian tawa are heavy and usually made of iron but you can use your cast iron skillet for this recipe. If you have a wide mouthed, heavy iron kadai that will work perfectly as well. We are sort of tossing everything similar to fried rice so a wide & heavy pan and pre prepared ingredients are the key. The idea is to cook on a constant high heat- similar to how we stir fry in asian cooking and a non wide skillet or wok won’t do the job properly.

All you need is leftover rice, some blanched or steamed vegetables and protein for this recipe. My husband said, I added by Delhi touch by adding paneer :), but if you have leftover chicken tandoori or tikka, you can use those as well. You can leave out the protein altogether and make these just with vegetables.

I like to spice up the pulao with pav bhaji masala, however you can use any spice blend that you like – dry tandoori masala (my recipe here), sambar powder or garam masala can be perfectly used. The use of a spices along with a paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies lends a smoky umami flavor to these rice and with creamy, milky soft chunks of paneer they taste super delicious. Cooking on super hot tawa lends the rice slightly crispy, vegetables are charred and the spices get smoky. All and all a super flavorful dish which is perfect for quick family dinners. Serve the pulao with raita, green chutney and achar.

How to make Tawa Pulao?

You will need a heavy tawa. I like using my 12 inch cast iron griddle but you can simply use iron tawa or wide iron kadai (one that’s heavy). Making tawa pulao is very much like making fried rice. You have to work fast once you start so make sure that the ingredients are ready to go. Prepare the blanched vegetables, shallow fry the paneer, keep the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilies ready. We will add everything step by step (as outlined in the recipe) and add the rice at the last and stir fry on high heat.High heat is important to make sure that the rice does not turn mushy. Few of the rice grain might break but that’s okay. It is important to start with cold rice so that they do not stick to each other. I start by making a quick masala of onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic and green chillies. Then I sauté the paneer and vegetables for a bit to warm them up before adding the rice and pav bhaji masala and tossing it up all together.

A few things to be kept in mind when you make tawa pulao:-

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. These pulao takes about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.

Paneer Tawa Pulao

Popular indian street food style rice pilaf/pulao cooked on a hot skillet or tawa with vegetables, paneer chunks and spiced with pav bhaji masala.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped , adjust to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 cup vegetables (use vegtables that you like, I used blanched carrots & green beans, peas, bell peppers)
  • 5-6 tbsp tomato puree(simply blitz 2 small tomatoes in a processor) or use 1/4 cup store bought tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup paneer chunks, shallow fried if you like
  • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala , adjust to how strong you like the spices
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder , adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked rice, cold
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Keep all ingredients ready. Using your mortar and pestle, piund the ginger, garlic and green chilies to a coarse paste.
  • In a heavy bottom cast iron skillet or tawa, on medium high, heat up oil, crackle cumin and add the green chillies, ginger and garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions next and cook for 2-3 minutes till onions begin to brown.
  • Then, add all the chopped vegetables at once and sauté them around till you see them starting to char. On medium high heat it takes about 2-4 mins.
  • Then add the tomato purée & sugar. Cook for about 3 minutes untill ou see oil starting to seperate but dont saute too much.Add the cubed paneer. Add turmeric, red chili and pav bhaji powder as well and cook everything for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the cold rice, sprinkle salt and stir fry the rice with everything else for 3-4 minutes. Finish with chopped cilantro. Serve.

Notes

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. This pulao take about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Reply