Split-pea and paneer biryani with tomato raita and aloo paratha


A mighty meal of rice, vegetables, pulses and cheese.


Thanks to David Nutter for this recipe - a big hit on the Lewis residential this summer, although the frying of the Aloo Paratha did set off the smoke alarm more than once - the hot oiled frying pan can get smoky at this stage so be prepared!

This substantial Indian feast will serve around twelve church mice or eight greedy pigs. The paratha dough should be made in advance or you can use store-bought breads instead. Seasoning can easily be adjusted by stirring more cayenne pepper into individual portions so the recipe as given is not that hot.



For the garnish:

Tomato raita

Aloo Paratha



  1. Place the split-peas in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, partly uncover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and place on one side.
  2. While the peas are cooking, rinse the rice and soak it in cold water.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain the rice and add it to the onion mixture with the cooked split peas. Season to taste then add the 1.8 litres of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, tightly cover the pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Finally, remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Add the fried paneer and eggs to the rice mixture and combine. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
  6. Mix the diced cucumber, parsley and garam masala - if necessary use a little lemon juice - and garnish the finished biryani.

Tomato Raita

  1. Mix the tomatoes, onions and chilli.
  2. Heat some oil in a saucepan and fry the mustard seeds until they start to crack.
  3. Mix in the other spices and stir into the raita.

Aloo Paratha

  1. Boil the potatos in their skins until cooked.
  2. Peel and grate the potatoes and rub into the flour with the butter.
  3. Mix in the spices.
  4. Slowly mix in the water until you have a soft dough. Press into a ball and knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.
  5. Rub with a little butter, wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. 6 Divide the dough into evenly-sized balls.
  6. Heat some oil in a frying pan.
  7. Roll out the breads one at a time until they are very thin - 2 to 3mm - then:
    • Slam into the pan and fry until white spots appear
    • Turn over and fry for 30 secs
    • Turn over again and drizzle 2tsp of oil or melted butter around the paratha. Keep turning every 15 seconds and cooking until the paratha has golden spots all over and cooked through
  8. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Cover if you are going to be storing the paratha for a while.