30-minute Paneer rice bowl

Do you know the “spoon in the fridge” trick? You keep a spoon hidden in the fridge so that when you are craving a spoon of bread halwa, gulab jamun or chocolate mousse you just grab your secret spoon that only you know of and dig in. Think that’s bullshit?

Paneer rice bowl

OK, Picture this.

You’re about to go to bed. You go around to switch off all the lights planning to scoff a tiny scoop of bread halwa. You see the dirty tumblers and coffee mugs and you gather them up. You also pick up the clothes from the floor to deposit in the laundry basket. Both your hands are full when you see the hot wheels car in your way. You push it to the corner with your leg and walk over to the laundry basket and almost drop the coffee mugs in but catch yourself at the last minute and drop in the clothes instead. You walk to the kitchen to deposit the tumblers and notice that the peace lily is drooping and you haven’t watered it. You put away the snack boxes on the counter back in the shelves. You come back out, see the plant and go back again to get a pitcher of water to water the peace lily. You go out to the balcony to water the other dying plant there, pick up the shoes there and put them away in the shoe rack, put away the newspaper, open the Amazon parcel on the table, check it out and then safely put it in one of the cupboards and promptly forget the location, shove the plastic covers flying around in the big bag of plastic covers, step on a lego piece, pick it up and put it away in the lego box, find 3 more lego pieces in the sofa crevices, trudge back to the toy cupboard and put them away and start switching off lights everywhere. You go to the fridge but realize you need to go back to your cutlery drawer, switch on the lights, walk to fridge, eat, close fridge, put away spoon and switch off lights. You decide that’s too much work and go back to bed. You walk past the folded clothes of the past 4 days, hop over the towel and lie down on the bed. You find a couple of pencils under your back. You shove it under the pillow along with the bra.

Paneer rice bowl

Now, if only you had your spoon in the fridge, you would have gone to bed fulfilled, filled with the luscious bread halwa.

I digress. I wanted to tell you all about my vacation. I guiltily ate ice cream every day. I had been eagerly anticipating this vacation for a loooong time and when I was finally on it, I suddenly realized how much weight I had put on and couldn’t wait to get back home and start working out. We travelled to Mangalore, Kollur and Coorg and ate our way through Rava idli, Moode, Mangalore Ghee chicken roast, Neer Dosa and Kadumbuttu. I wanted to apprentice with the Udupi hotel master just to learn his idli and sambar recipe, but was talked out of it. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my pictures from the vacation.

And then school reopened. The entire week before that I came back from office to piles of books and rolls of brown covering paper.

I spent as little time as I could in the kitchen making one-pot meals, having entire idli-idli-dosa-dosa-dosa weeks, rehashing leftovers, making maggi and getting better at being lazier.

Paneer rice meal

I already made this paneer meal a couple of times on weekday mornings. It’s easier than you think and ready in 30 mins flat. Paneer is folded into a simple tomato gravy and ladled on delicately spiced aromatic basmati rice. This is one of Hasini’s favourite lunches. I love how it comes together in such short span of time but looks like a lot of effort.  

Paneer rice bowl

Paneer rice bowl

Jayanthi Padmanabhan
An easy, delicious paneer rice bowl in 30 minutes flat!
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4


Ingredients – Paneer in tomato gravy

  • Paneer – 200 gm
  • Tomatoes – 3 large
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1-1/2 tsp
  • Cumin powder – ¾ tsp
  • Coriander powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Garam Masala powder – ½ tsp
  • Butter – 2 tbsp
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Sugar – ½ tsp
  • Kasoori Methi – 2 pinches
  • Corinader leaves – 1 tbsp chopped for garnish

Ingredients – Aromatic Rice

  • Basmati Rice – 1-1/2 cups rice
  • Cloves – 2
  • Cinnamon – 2 inch piece
  • Bay Leaf – 2 pieces
  • Star Anise – 1
  • Onion – 1 large sliced
  • Garlic – 3 cloves minced
  • Green chilli – 3 sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Kewra Extract – 2 drops


  • Blanch the tomatoes – drop tomatoes in boiling water, let cook for 4-5 minutes, then drop in cold water. Once cool enough to handle, puree.
  • To a pan, add butter and oil (called for under paneer gravy). When the oil is hot, add the ginger-garlic paste and stir around for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the tomato puree. Add the spice powders and salt. Mix well and cook on medium-high till it reduces to a thick gravy consistency. Fold in diced paneer. Add sugar and kasoori methi. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add a little water if you wish to thin down the gravy. Switch off and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a pot to cook rice. Wash rice 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Drop rinsed rice into boiling water. Let rice cook for 6-8 minutes or until rice is 90% done – cooked but not too soft. Drain the water and reserve the rice. Let rice cool down completely.
  • To a large wok, add 3 tbsp oil. When oil is hot, add the whole spices. When the spices turn fragrant, add in the sliced onions, sliced green chillies and minced garlic. When the onions turn translucent, add salt and kewra extract. Mix well. Add cooked and cooled rice and mix gently to incorporate. Give an extra minute for the rice to heat through and the flavours to blend. Switch off. Serve hot with paneer gravy ladled on top. Enjoy!
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