Paneer Biriyani – On a diet

I AM ON A DIET!!!!!!

Being a foodie, being on diet means getting a jail term for me!!  I cannot imagine restricting myself on anything that relates to food.

When this love of my life started to get under my skin and started dictating how my life had to be led, I did not like it. The days of my life started being really lethargic. I thought, it is time that I took a break from this relationship. But as all long term relationship goes, it’s difficult to cut the ties.

The idea of getting back to shape into my mind when my inspiring friend Nayana started to discuss about her fitness routine on our whatsapp group. This got everyone to talk about fitness. When Nayans (as I like to call her) completed her transformation package from I got thinking, why not get into a program and try it out?

So, I got my sleeping fitness guru (my husband) to look into it and we both got into a couples transformation program!!!! For me, it was like getting onto a roller coaster (I am very scared of these things!!). I am still screaming everyday like you do during the roller coaster drop!!! But feeling the exhilaration as well….

When we got the diet plan, it seemed gloomy. But when I saw the things I could eat, it got me thinking I can make it interesting… I was not ready to break my relationship  with food. If I need to follow through with this diet, I need to make food tasty or else I cannot do it.

I jumped on to the internet, got inspired from Keto and low carb diet recipes on Pinterest and devised several recipes that would interest me. My husband is a good man, he never criticizes food.

Let’s wrap up tpaneer butter masala biriyanihis story now and get on with the recipe!

Friday is Biriyani day in most of the Malayali Muslim houses in UAE that I know. It is like a tradition. Celebrating the weekend is what we call it. Our home becomes a host to huge family lunch on weekends with cousins and sister’s family and my parents. The first weekend of our diet I was really concerned how we will get past the delicious mutton biriyani being made?!!! That’s how I came up with my version of Paneer butter masala biriyani.


Paneer – 100 gms

Rice – 100 gms (cooked)

Cashew – 2 or 3

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Onion – ½ diced finely (1/4 sliced thinly)

Tomato – 1

Ginger – garlic paste – ½ tsp

Chilli powder – ½ tsp

Turmeric powder – a pinch

Garam masala – ½ tsp

Kasuri methi – 1 tsp

Salt – ½ tsp

Heavy cream – 2 tbsp

Saffron – a few strands soaked in warm water


  1. Cook the rice till there is still a slight bite to it
  2. Soak cashews in hot water
  3. Paneer, if store brought put it in warm water till the time comes to use. If you are into making paneer at home (its very easy and tasty), this step need not be done.
  4. Heat the ghee in a pan and sautee the diced onion till translucent
  5. Put in the ginger garlic paste and fry it till the raw smell leaves
  6. Add the tomatoes and sautee till it is pulpy
  7. Add all the powders and sautee for 2 min
  8. Add the kasuri methi and fry for a few more seconds and switch off the flame and let this cool
  9. On cooling grind the sautéed mixture in a grinder with Cahsews and the heavy cream. Make smooth paste.
  10. Heat the same pan again and put in the cubed paneer and fry for 2-3 min. If it is a non stick pan you will have some residual ghee in it, use that for this process. No need to add more. But if you feel you need to add more, add another ½ tsp of ghee
  11. Once the paneer has flecks of brown on it, pour the puree into this. Cook for 5 min on low flame
  12. Take the sliced onions in a bowl and rub it with a very small amount of ghee. Only so much so that the ghee just coats the onions. Put it the microwave in high power for a burst of 30 secs for 2 mins. Give it a stir in between the bursts. This will give you nice crispy fried onions.
  13. Let’s start layering the biriyani. Put a thin layer of rice in an oven proof bowl then pour all the masala on top of it. Cover with the remaining rice.
  14. Pour the saffron, a few thinly sliced mint and coriander leaves and the fried onions on top of the rice and cover it tightly with an aluminium foil.
  15. Place this in a 180° C preheated oven and cook for 10 min.
  16. Enjoy!!!

Iram Ziadi (my trainer from thank you for patiently answering the questions about the food that I could and couldn’t include in my diet.

This got me thinking of many such dishes that I can convert to my diet versions. So do come back and check for more of my experiments.

* My Pictures are kind of crappy! I did not think the dishes would turn out so good. My husband, sister and friends told me to put it up on my blog and share it. So picked out the pics that I took to post it on my whatsapp group to share with my friends.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Shanaz says:

    I love the idea of your diet biryani.


    1. Zerin Bobby Hussain says:

      Thank you Shahnaz. I am not joking when I say I am bad with diets. This time round I just looked at the meal plan that I got and decided, I will make things that does not look and taste like diet food. So Alhamdulillah, today I complete a whole month!!! It’s my personal best.


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