Bold, exciting flavors mix together to create this seriously mouthwatering Vegetable Biryani! This crowd pleasing Indian dish is perfect for both intimate dinners and dinner parties alike. Authentic yet accessible, this vegetable biryani recipe is delightfully easy to make in just over an hour.
One of my favorite dishes to get whenever I get Indian takeout is biryani. This version is a vegetable biryani and it’s one of my favorite varieties. It’s hard to find really good biryani (that doesn’t break the bank) so I’ve asked my friend to help me make an authentic biryani that can be easily made at home without a lot of fuss. Whenever I make this homemade vegetable biryani, it’s incredibly aromatic, flavor-packed, and fresh – just the way it should be.
What is biryani?
If you’re wondering what biryani is, there’s a simple answer. Heaven. It’s a South Asian mixed rice dish that can be customized with a medley of different ingredients, including various vegetables, meat, eggs, all that jazz. If you’re vegan/vegetarian or just looking for a good dinner for this upcoming meatless Monday, this is the biryani recipe for you.
While the list of ingredients may seem a bit extensive, I promise that every single item on the list contributes vitally to the overall taste of the dish.
With a meal as famously flavorful as biryani, you don’t want to cut any corners! The smell of this dinner cooking in your kitchen will likely permeate through your house, and that’s a good thing. It means it’ll come out delicious!
- Basmati rice – Do not substitute this authentic rice with any other rice!
- Cloves – This is one of the mos delightful aromatic ingredients.
- Cardamom – The herbal warmth of this traditional Indian spice is SO good.
- Bay leaf – This is another ingredient mainly in the mix for aromatic purposes.
- Black peppercorns – Whole, not cracked.
- Cinnamon stick – Make sure to actually buy the sticks, not the powder.
- Cumin seeds – The nutty, earthy flavor of these seeds is delightful.
- Diced veggies – I use a medley of cauliflower, potato, carrots, peas, and beans.
- Red onion – Try not to replace this onion with white or yellow.
- Ginger and garlic paste – You could also use finely minced ginger and garlic.
- Green chilies – Crushed.
- Yogurt – Make sure it’s plain! Also, feel free to use a dairy-free option if you’d like.
- Biryani masala – Garam masala is a good substitute.
- Kashmir chili powder – Regular chili powder also works if you can’t find any kashmir.
- Turmeric powder – Great for color, and it’s an anti-inflammatory ingredient! Win-win!
- Fresh greens – Fresh cilantro and mint leaves will provide more flavor than you could ever imagine!
- Milk – Dairy or a plant-based milk will both work.
- Saffron – Just a pinch! Pro tip: Trader Joe’s has the best price for saffron!
- Cashews – Chop them up coarsely so they still have their crunchy consistency.
- Salt – Just a little bit to taste. You don’t want to overpower the other bold ingredients.
- Oil – Use oil or ghee to fry the onions.
I know this ingredient list is a beast and it’s very tempting to omit spices and substitute out ingredients but please trust me when I say that this will not yield the flavors that the authentic recipe intends. There are some substitutions, as noted, but please don’t go omitting spices or subbing out what you might think will work. I can’t guarantee the flavor if that happens!
Can I add a protein to vegetable biryani?
Yes! Keep it vegetarian with tofu or add the seafood, chicken, or beef of your choice.
Like I mentioned earlier, this dish is known for changing all over regions of South Asia and it’s wonderfully customizable.
How long will vegetable biryani stay fresh?
In an airtight container in the fridge, this rice and vegetable dish will stay fresh for about 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave, or for the best results, back on the stove top for just a few minutes until warmed through.
Be sure to check out a few more of my most flavorful Indian-inspired recipes!
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 black peppercorns
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 ½ cups diced veggies: cauliflower, potato, carrots, peas, beans
- 2 red onions, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste or finely minced ginger garlic
- 2 green chilies, crushed
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt, vegans substitute unflavored vegan yogurt
- 2 teaspoon biryani masala, or substitute with 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder or regular chili powder, adjust as per spice levels
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro and mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons milk
- A pinch of saffron
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cashews fried in a little bit of oil or ghee
- Salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons oil / ghee for frying the onions + 1 ½ tbsp for cooking biryani
- Wash the rice until it runs clear and soak the rice in water for 15 minutes.
- Heat a deep pan full of water and add the cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, black peppercorn, Cumin seeds, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon oil or ghee and salt as needed for the rice (about 1 teaspoon). Let it come to a boil.
- Add the soaked rice to it and let it cook until it’s 75% cooked.
- When done, drain the rice and set it aside.
- When the rice is cooking, heat the milk until it is slightly warm and add the saffron strands to it. Mix and set aside.
- Now take a small pan and add 3 tablespoons oil/ ghee and add the sliced onions to it. Let it fry in a low medium heat until they turn golden brown. When done, drain the onions and set it aside. You can use the remaining oil/ghee for cooking biryani if you wish.
- Take a large bowl and add the yogurt, ginger garlic paste, crushed green chilies, biryani masala, turmeric powder, chili powder, 1 tablespoon cilantro and mint, diced veggies, salt to tase and half of the fried onions. Mix until the veggies are well coated in the masala yogurt mixture.
- Set it aside for 10 minutes.
- Now take a Dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pan and add the remaining oil.
- When it becomes hot, add the marinated veggies and yogurt mixture. Saute for a minute and cook covered for about 5 to 6 minutes until the veggies and cooked 70%. The veggies should still be firm and have a bite to it because they will further cook along with the rice.
- If you find mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan, sprinkle water and gently deglaze the pan taking care not the break the veggies.
- When done switch off flame, top the veggie mixture with the cooked rice. (The bottom layer will be of the veggie mixture and the top layer will be of the rice.)
- Top the rice with saffron milk (Just drizzle the milk so it’s spread evenly over the rice.)
- Then top with remaining fried onions, remaining mint and cilantro, fried cashews.
- Now take another heavy cast iron pan / skillet that has a bigger bottom than the pan you have the biriyani on.
- Heat the larger pan and place the biryani pan on top of it. (Now the biryani pan is on top of the larger cast iron skillet which is being heated) This technique is called dum cooking.
- Close the biryani pan with a tight lid.
- Cook in a low flame for 20 to 25 minutes. Don’t open the lid as the biryani is cooking.
- After 20-25 minutes, the biryani is done cooking.
- Serve with raita, naan, or any side of your choice.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.