Ulavacharu Paneer Biryani | Horsgram Paneer Biryani

Ulavachari Biryani is a traditional and authentic recipe prepared with cooked horse gram water, meat or vegetables or paneer and is a specialty from Andhra/Telangana. This Biryani is slightly different from the regular Biryani in its use of Tamarind water and curry leaves which elevate and brings out that distinct taste along with Biryani masala.

One of our friends took us this biryani place where they said they served one of the best Ulavacharu Paneer Biryani and Amaravathi Veg Biryani. I am not a stranger to Horsegram but did not know it was also called ulavachaaru. Being a huge Biryani fan I was exited to try this new dish.

The biryani was darker in color, tangier and had different flavors from all other biryanis I had tasted. So I put on my research hat and dug to find out that this is a made from the gravy made from cooked horsegram water. This was interesting and I had to try this.

Horse gram is also known as Madras gram. In traditional Ayurvedic cuisine, horse gram is considered a food with medicinal qualities. It is prescribed for various medical reasons and as for weight loss diet. Moreover it is considered to produce heat which is perfect for the winter months.

I made this recipe with my basic biryani recipe and Vah Chef’s ulavacharu gravy recipe with my take.  This biryani is kid approved and also made in my InstaPot.
Fresh paneer, marinated with yogurt, spices, and horse gram soup(Ulavacharu), cooked with long grain Basmati rice. Served with raita and salan is a must try during cold winters.

  • Servings: 4 adults
  • Difficulty: medium
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For Ulava Charu gravy:
1 Cup cooked Ulava, Kollu, Horse Gram Water
½ cup chopped onions
1 tbsp Thick Tamarind Pulp
2 Cloves Garlic, grated
1” ginger grated
½ tsp Coriander powder
1/4th tsp Cumin powder
1 tbs biryani masala
½ tsp Chilli powder
1 strand Curry leaves
1/4th tsp turmeric powder
4 to 6 Pods Green Cardamom
1 Petals Javitri
1 tsp shahi jeera
2 sticks of Cinnomon
2 bay leaves
4 Marathi moggu
some mint leaves chopped.
Oil as needed
Salt as needed

For Rice
2 Cups Basmati Rice
2 Bay Leaves
1 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
½ tsp jeera
1” Cinnomon stick
1 stand mint leaves
6 cups of water

Paneer marination
1 cup Paneer chopped
3 tbs thick yogurt
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp biryani masala
½ tsp Coriander powder
1/4th tsp Cumin powder
Salt to Taste


Preparing the Paneer

  1. Cut the apneer into cubes
  2. In a bowl add 3 tbs of curd and add in the dry masalas
  3. Add the cubed paneer to the mix and coat the paneer well.
  4. set it aside to marinate till you prep the Ulavacharu gravy.

Preparing the Rice

  1. Wash and soak the rice for 15 minutes in 2 cups water
  2. Drain all the water from the rice.
  3. Set aside

Preparing the Horse Gram gravy
Step 1:

  1. Wash and soak the horse gram in 2 cups water for at least 6 -8 hours.
  2. Pressure cook the horse gram in your Instaport in multigrain mode ( 20 mins) or for 4-6 whistles in your pressure cooker till it is done
  3. Drain and reserve the water in which it was cooked
  4. Grind the cooked horse gram to a paste and strain it to seperate the husky pulp and the dal.
  5. Mix the ground paste into the reserved water. Biryani will cook in this gravy

Step 2:

  1. Now Turn on the InstaPot to Saute mode ( about 30 mins) and add some oil
  2. When the oil is hot add in the dry masalas – Pods Green Cardamom, Javitri, shahi jeera, Cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and Marathi moggu
  3. Once it starts releasing aroma in about 1 min add in the dry masala powders
  4. Now add in the salt, Ginger garlic paste and chopped onions. Saute well.
  5. When done add in the curry leaves and the reserved Horse Gram water and let the gravy boil and reduce a bit.
  6. At this time add in the Tamarind water and let it simmer a bit more
  7. When the gravy thickens a bit yet has a flowery consistency add in the marinated paneer
  8. Let the paneer cook in the Ulavacharu gravy for about 3-5 mins.

Step 3:

  1. Remove about 1/2 of the gravy and set aside for layering.
  2. Now add 1/2 of the cooked rice to the gravy and sprinkle some mint leaves
  3. Add the other half of the gravy and the rice for second layer. Sprinkle the mint leaves and coriander leaves on the top
  4. Now turn the Insta pot of Steam mode for 5 mins and cook with the valve in seal position ( this creates dum effect)
  5. Once done let it rest for 15-20 mins before opening the pot
  6. InstaPot Ulavacharu Paneer Biryani is ready. serve it hot with raita or Salan

Recipe Notes

  1. The steps may seam lengthy but a little prep goes a long way. Soak and cook your horsegram a day before to save time.
  2. I cooked my rice on the stove top the traditional way but you can cook it in IP or cooker with less than usual water</li.
  3. Adjust the gravy consistency to your liking but leaving it too watery will make the biryani very soggy or too thick will make it dry,
  4. Can be made Vegan just by skipping the panner and directly adding vegetable to the gravy
  5. Tried this recipe? Tag @amomscookbook on Instagram and hashtag it #amomscookbook

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