Royal Vegetarian Biryani

Author Notes: It is National Vegetarian Week here in the UK and I am sharing a delicate yet regal vegetarian Pakistani style biryani, the spice is elegantly infused in seasonal vegetables and fragrant basmati rice. Serves with a simple cucumber and mint raita for a relaxing summer lunch.Sumayya Usmani

Serves: 4


For the vegetable curry sauce:

  • 10 tablespoons vegetable oil (not olive)
  • 2 red onions, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each of grated ginger and crushed garlic
  • 400 grams natural yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves or 1/2 bunch fresh fenugreek leaves
  • 300-400 grams mixed fresh seasonal vegetables
  • 250 grams Basmati rice, washed and soaked in tap water for 30 minutes, then par-boiled in hot boiling salty water for only 2-3 minutes

Whole spices and garnish:

  • 1 inch cinnamon quill
  • 10 cloves
  • 7 green cardamoms
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 bunch coriander leaves
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into 3-4 slices
  • 2-3 green chilli
  • 1 pinch saffron, infused in 1 tbsp hot boiling water for 15 minutes
In This Recipe


  1. Heat vegetable oil and 2 tbsp ghee in a saucepan with the tight fitting lid add all the whole garam masalas until fragrant, be sure not to burn. The add onions and cook until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and fry until the raw smell of ginger and garlic leaves the pan (about 2-4 minutes) Do not allow to get brown. Add a splash of water to ensure that nothing gets burned and keep on medium heat. Add tomatoes and fry until they cook down. Add yoghurt and keep stirring until the oil leaves the curry. Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder.
  2. Now add all the vegetables and cook until mixed well.
  3. Top the vegetable curry with coriander leaves; mint and green chilli and then layer par-boiled rice on top of the vegetable curry spread evenly. Top with coriander, mint and green chili again and also pour the 1 tbsp of ghee (melted), shove in some lemon slices, pour over saffron and cover tightly with foil and then the pans lid.
  4. Keep on very low heat, and allow to cook in it’s own steam for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Once done, open up the biryani, serve in a dish and sprinkle the garnish! Serve hot with raita

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