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Paneer Moti Pulao

Fragrant and delicately spiced basmati rice adorned with fried paneer kofta(balls) that are covered in edible silver & gold warq(leaf) to resemble 'moti' or pearls. This pulao is easy to make and tastes of green cardamom & cloves with a tang of yogurt in every bite.Serve with green chutney and/or spiced curry.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4


For the Birista (Fried Onions)

  • 2 large onions, halved and sliced (not too thick or thin)
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Pulao

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1 +1/4 cup water (adjust depending on rice quality)
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-5 cloves
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6-8 black peppercorns, whole
  • 2-3 Thai bird green chillies, slit
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup whole raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 strands saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp milk
  • Pomegranate arils, fresh mint, cilantro etc for garnish

For the Paneer Kofta

  • 1 cup crumbled paneer
  • 1/2 cup grated boiled potato
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch (see notes)
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1-2 thai bird green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp coarse powdered cashews
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Edible silver or gold leaves
  • Oil for frying (same that you used for frying onions)


Make the Birista (Fried Onions)

  • In a heavy kadai or wide skillet, heat oil on medium hit and deep fry the onions till they are light brown in color. Fry on ow heat so that the onions are crisp. Drain on a paper towel and spread them. Let cool. They will crisp up more as they cool. Set aside.

Make the Pulao (Start while the onions are frying)

  • Wash the rice 2-3 times in running water and soak them in 1.5 cup of water. Keep near.
  • In a heavy pot with lid, add the ghee and let it heat up. Make sure that the ghee is not too hot or smoky. Temper with all the whole spices - cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Saute for 30 seconds and add the green chilies and cashews.
  • Fry the cashews for a minute or so till they are pale brown and then add the onions. Cook onions for 3-4 minutes til they soften a bit but aren't not browned.
  • Lower the heat to low and add the yogurt to the pot. Immediately whisk for a minute or so else the yogurt will curdle. Add sugar and salt and cook the yogurt masala for about 2 minutes till you see small bubbles of fat appearing but don't cook for too long.
  • Add the soaked rice along with water to the pot, stir to combine everything. Taste and adjust the salt of the water to make sure that its sharp salty, this ensures that rice will be well seasoned.
  • Bring to a boil, cover and turn the stove to low for about 12-14 minutes for rice to cook and absorb the flavors. While the rice cooks, you can proceed to make the paneer kofta (recipe below).
  • Onde95 percent of the water is aborbed, open the lid of the pot and drizzle the soaked saffron. Don't mix. Immediately cover and let the rice cook completely for another 5 minutes.
  • Take off stove and let the rice sit undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, plate and decorated with warm paneer kofta, fried onions, extra nuts, fresh herbs etc. Serve.

Make the Paneer Kofta (Moti)

  • You can use the same oil that you used for frying onions to fry the paneer kofta. Just make sure to strain the oil once to get rid of any burnt onions particles. Heat up the oil on medium.
  • In a large bowl, add all the listed ingredients except the silver/gold leaf.
  • Using your hands, squish and mix everything nicely to form a smooth dough. Take a smallD portion, roll into a ball and add to oil, if its not spreading, procee and make small koftas.
    If the kofta spreads, add another tablespoon of cornstarch, mix and then form the koftas.
  • Fry up all the koftas on medium heat until golden on all sides.
  • Drain on a paper towel and once cool to touch, cover the koftas in gold or silver warq. Add to the pulao as mentioned the instructions above.