Recipe: Palak paneer & saffron arancini

A Pakistani fusion: Incorporate a palak paneer recipe with saffron yahkni into a risotto.

Sumayya Jamil September 16, 2012

In Sicily, they use leftover risotto to make Arancini balls — breadcrumb coated rice balls! I have made a Pakistani fusion by incorporating a palak paneer recipe with saffron yahkni into a risotto. Saffron is used in Italian cooking as well and these rice balls  are great as a starter or a tea time canape. 

Prep and cooking time: 45 minutes. Plus overnight time to let risotto cool.

Serves: Makes about 15 balls


Vegetable oil 1/4 cup

Arborio rice 1 cup

Chicken stock 2 cups

Spinach, chopped 1 cup

Paneer 15 small cubed

Ginger and garlic paste 1 tsp

Onion //2

Mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup

Salted butter 1 tbsp

Flour 1/2 cup

Breadcrumbs 1/2 cup

Egg, beaten 1


Saffron 1 pinch

Peppercorns 4-5

Cloves 3

Cardamom 1

Cumin 1 tsp

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Green chillis chopped 2

Salt  2 taste


1. To make the risotto: Boil the stock with saffron, cloves, salt, peppercorn and cardamom. Add the rice and stir until it comes to a boil. Turn down heat and cover and stir occasionally until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

2. In a shallow pan, heat the oil, add the cumin and once they splutter, add onions and fry until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook until the raw smell leaves the pan. Add the spinach, butter and chilli powder. Now add the cooked rice and mozzarella cheese and stir until the mixture is stiff. Pour on a flat plate, cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

2. To make the Arancini balls: Prepare the breadcrumbs, flour and beaten egg in 3 separate plates. Start by heating up oil in a wok-like pan and keep on medium heat. Now using the cold rice mixture form balls and push in a small piece of paneer in the middle. The size of the balls depends on you.

3. Make a batch of about 5 balls at a time then dip in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Fry them together, turning them to ensure an even golden brown colour. Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

4. Enjoy hot with some chilli sauce or a cool raita dip.

Sumayya Jamil is a lawyer-turned-food writer and cookery teacher in London, who is on a mission to promote the love of Pakistani food in the UK. She blogs at

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, September 16th, 2012.

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