Vegetable Biriani (Biryani)

There are times when we like a change from our meaty birianis (biryanis), and this vegetable biriani may be just the thing to make you forget all about the meat. The taste of this biriani is delicious, it is spicy, and it is light (for a biriani, anyway). As a general rule, you can use whatever vegetables are handy, or those that our Swahili family prefers, depending on what you have on hand.

This version of the recipe is made up of peas, potatoes, carrots, and capsicums. As an alternative, you can include cauliflower, beans, paneer, or anything else that suits your taste.

Ingredients for Vegetable Biriani (Biryani)

  • 3 cups of basmati rice
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 large capsicums diced into cubes.
  • A quarter cup of oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic paste
  • Half a cup of yoghurt for this recipe
  • 1 stick of cinnamon 
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • teaspoon cumin powder
  • Orange food colouring
  • For garnishing, you can use chopped coriander leaves
  • Approximately half a cup of peas, boiled for five minutes and drained
  • 4 finely sliced onions, fried until golden
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • Juice half a lemon
  • I would recommend peeling 4 potatoes, cutting them into thick wedges and frying them in butter
  • You will need 2-4 green chillies, chopped (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ginger paste
  • A tablespoon or two of tomato paste or puree is sufficient
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 cardamom(Iliki) pod
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare Vegetable biriani (biryani) Gravy

  • In a deep pot, heat the oil and then add the whole spices (cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves) to the oil.
  • When the cumin splutters, add the fresh tomatoes to the pot, along with half of the green chillies. I would recommend cooking the tomatoes until they are completely dry, then adding half of the remaining fried onions (reserve a handful for later use).
  • Next, add the pastes of garlic and ginger, followed by the paste of tomato. The spices that can be added at this time are salt, cumin, chilli, turmeric, coriander powders as well as saffron (if you are using it).
  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until you see the oil dripping from the sides. After adding the whipped yoghurt to the gravy, cook it until the gravy becomes thick and cooked all the way through.
  • In the next step, add all the vegetables, except for the fried potato wedges, which have already been fried and are fully cooked.
  • After stir-frying them for a few minutes with the gravy, make sure that all the pieces are nicely coated with the gravy.
  • Add half a cup of water to the mixture.
  • To ensure that the vegetables are cooked through, cover them with a lid and simmer on low heat. It is important to take a moment every once in a while to open the pot and gently mix everything together.
  • Cooking the vegetables shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
  • The veggies should be cooked to your liking (I like the capsicums to have a slight crunch to them, so you don’t want to cook them until they are completely limp), then adjust the salt and add the remaining green chilli, garam masala, and chopped coriander.
  • Add the fried potatoes to the gravy as well and stir them in well so that the potatoes are coated with the gravy properly.
  • After you have squeezed the lemon juice and stirred the mixture, turn off the heat and allow it to cool off.

How to prepare Vegetable biriani (biryani) Rice

  • It is important that you wash and soak 3 cups of rice in water for about 20-30 minutes before using it.
  • Set aside a few strands of saffron that have been soaked in some water for a few minutes.
  • You will need to boil a big pot of water and add salt, 4 cardamom pods, 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 2-3 cloves as well as about 2 tablespoons of oil.
  • After the rice has been soaked, drain it and add it to the boiling water in the big pot when the water is boiling.
  • As soon as the rice is about 3/4 done, remove it from the heat aIn a medium size pan, put half of the rice back into the pan, add the veggies masala on top of it, sprinkle a handful of the reserved fried onions on top of the masala, and finally add the remaining rice to cover all the veggies masala.
  • Next, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the oil over the top as well as saffron water. On one side of the pot, add a bit of orange colour and mix it up a bit with a spoon and then cover it tightly with a lid.
  • For about 15 minutes, steam this on low heat or put it in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius for roughly the same amount of time.
  • Hot or warm is the best way to serve this dish!
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