Grind together masala powders (coriander+turmeric+chilli powder) + fennel seeds with 1 tbsp water to a fine paste. Keep it aside. Crush the whole spices (cinnamon+cardamom+cloves). Heat ghee/oil in a deep bottom pan & add the crushed whole spices. Add finely sliced onions & salt to this. Cook till the onions become golden brown in colour. Add ginger & garlic paste. Cook for 3-4 mins. Add the ground masala paste to this & cook till the raw smell goes, it will take around 2-3 mins. Add sliced tomato & cook. When oil starts appearing add yogurt & chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Add paneer cubes to this & cover & cook for 5-7 mins. If you are using cashew paste, add at this stage. Cook for a few more minutes & remove from fire.
I cooked the rice in the normal method & drained the excess water. That’s why I didnt mention the qty of water in the recipe. Make sure you dont over cook the rice, since you will be baking it later. I didnt add any garam/whole masala while cooking the rice. I just added salt. However if you want to cook rice in the traditional biriyani style, you can see it here.
Layering the biriyani
Preheat the oven to 180 degree, 10 minutes before baking the biriyani. Apply some ghee to a baking dish. Put one layer of rice in the dish. On top of that spread some masala and make another layer. Again spread another layer of rice on top of the masala. Repeat the process until the masala and rice is finished. The top layer should be of rice. You can drizzle ghee & sprinkle coriander & mint leaves in between the layers. Cover the dish with a wet cloth. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
If you dont have an oven to bake the biriyani, do the following method.
Layer the rice and masala in a greased heavy bottomed vessel/non stick pan & cover it with a tight lid.
Heat a thava/dosa kallu, when it is really hot, place the biriyani vessel on top of that. Reduce the heat to the lowest flame & cook for 20-25 mins. Keep the heat at the lowest flame throughout, otherwise it might get burnt.
Also place a pan of boiling water on top of the biriyani vessel at the same time.
Garnish the biriyani with fried onions, cashews & raisins & coriander & mint leaves.