Vegetable Biryani

Biryani is a decadent rice preparation that makes for a perfect meal on a cold winter afternoon. The recipe that I am going to share today is easy, delicious and healthy. I have added my healthy twist to this recipe by not adding any kind of animal protein, yogurt or clarified butter (but trust me it is as good as the traditional one!). Making Biryani is a 3 step process – preparing the rice, preparing the veggies and putting it all together (and then slow cooking). It is best served with some chilled yogurt or raita (however if you are vegan you can enjoy the biryani with some lemon pickle and roasted papad).


For Rice:

1.5 cup basmati rice
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamom pods
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
some salt

For Veggies:

1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
2 medium potatoes, cut into think pieces
1 large carrot, cut into big chunks
15 french beans, cut into 3 pieces each
10 white mushrooms, cut into big chunks
1 small green bell pepper, cut into big hunks
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 inch ginger, finely chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 cloves
4 whole black peppers
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
Some salt


Preparing the veggies:

  • In a thick bottomed dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, start adding spices one by one – cumin seeds, bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves and black peppers. Saute for about a minute.
  • Add sliced onions, saute for about 5 minutes on medium heat (the onions should become golden brown in color).
  • Add chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies, cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add salt, red chili powder and coriander powder.
  • Add chopped veggies one by one, start with vegetables that take longer to cook (the order that i like to follow is – potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, beans, cauliflower and finally the bell peppers). You don’t want to overcook the veggies  (switch off the heat when veggies are 70% done as we would be cooking the veggies again along with rice).
  • Add garam masala, lemon juice and switch off the heat.

Preparing the rice:

  • In another thick bottomed dutch oven, add rice, water, whole spices and some salt.
  • Switch off the heat when rice is 70% done, a good way to check is to take a grain of rice in between your fingers and press it. If it breaks you need to cook it some more, however you don’t want your rice to be completely mush.
  • Drain the rice in a colander and gently fluff.

Putting it all together:

  • Layer rice on top of prepared vegetables.
  • Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top,  sprinkle some water on top (about 2 tbsp).
  • Reduce the flame to low (lowest possible).
  • Cover with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes ( if you want you can also place a thick griddle underneath the dutch oven to avoid burning the veggies or rice).

Serve the delicious vegetable biryani with some chilled raita or yogurt!

*To make Raita – Add finely chopped onion, tomato, cilantro leaves and some salt to yogurt. Mix it all well and your raita is ready.


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