In a thick bottomed pan, dry roast all ingredients under Biriyani Masala Powder until they are fragrant – takes about 3-4 mins on low flame. Once cooled down, grind into a smooth powder.
In a pan, heat 1 tsp of ghee. Add paneer cubes and fry on low flame. Once they turn golden, remove from heat and set it aside.
In a bowl add the fried paneer cubes along with freshly prepared biryani masala powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt as needed.
Add 1/4 cup of golden fried onions and thick curd along with slit green chillies.
Mix well and let this marinate for atleast 30 mins or until the rice is ready.
In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry whole spices – cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and bay leaf.
Add water as needed (about 3 cups) and salt as needed. As the water comes to a boil, reduce the flame to low and add the basmati rice.
Cook the rice covered on low flame for 6-7 mins until it is 3/4th done. Drain off the excess water. Spread the rice on a large plate, drizzle 1 tsp of ghee around and let the rice cool down completely.
Pre-heat the oven at 200°C. To assemble the biryani, grease a thick bottomed pan (I used my Lodge cast iron pan) with 1 tsp ghee.
Spread the prepared paneer marinade as the first layer. Add a layer of basmati rice as the next layer and sprinkle golden fried onions on top.
Squeeze half a lemon (or 1/2 tbsp lemon juice) all over the rice.
Sprinkle finely chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves all over along with any left over golden fried onions on top.
Crush the saffron until it is powdered and mix it with warm milk. Sprinkle this milk all over the rice.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Set the pan in a pre-heated oven at 200°C on bake mode for 25-30 mins.
Gently fluff the rice and mix the biriyani masala from bottom before serving. Serve with cut onions and lemon wedge.