An aromatic and flavor packed, filling rice dish – thats vegetable biryani for you! Full of whole spices and hearty potatoes along with cauliflower, you cant really go wrong with biryani for dinner especially during these cold months. Serve as a main if you are a rice lover like me or as a side if you prefer that. The oven does most of the work since the potatoes and cauliflower are roasted in the oven before adding to the biryani. If you already have the vegetables roasted and ready, the whole dish comes together in 30 minutes.
Oven roasted vegetables – an unorthodox approach
I decided to use potatoes and cauliflower for making this vegetable biryani since they are hearty and hold up well to roasting/cooking. I also love eating those veggies! You can use any other vegetables of your choice including green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kohlrabi or paneer/tofu.
I also decided to roast the vegetables in the oven primarily
- To cut down on time standing and cooking over the stove – It takes a while for these vegetables to cook down in the pan over the stove. In the oven, I just had to check on it a couple of times.
- To roast the vegetables without using too much oil/fat – I have noticed I usually end up using more oil while trying to roast/fry vegetables in the pan vs roasting in the oven. Especially when I am trying to get them to crisp up. Thats why I decided to cook them on a sheet pan in the oven. Also this helps evenly cook them without having to worry about crowding in the pan.
Roasting the vegetables in the pan(one pot method) – You can of course just cook the vegetables in the same pan in which you will make the biryani. If you want the vegetables to be a little bit on the crispier side, then I would suggest using a wider pan. Ensure you use a good amount of oil and roast the vegetables until almost cooked. If you want more texture in the biryani, then I would suggest cooking the potatoes and cauliflower first. Remove from the pan and keep aside to use later per recipe instructions.
Vegan or gluten free options – It is extremely easy to make biryani vegan. Instead of ghee, use oil and replace yoghurt with the vegan version. Since it is made with rice, the dish is naturally gluten-free. However do check any spices you are using to make sure it is completely gluten free.
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Making the vegetable biryani
Prepping the vegetables
We will start by pre heating the oven to 375 deg F. Line the sheet pan(s) with parchment paper/liners (very helpful with clean up) and spread the diced potatoes and cauliflower florets. Add around 2-3 tablespoons of oil for each sheet pan.Lightly season with salt. Mix the vegetables and oil well so that it is well coated. I used yukon gold potatoes for this. You can use any variety you like but I feel waxy potatoes are best suited for this dish. Also be mindful of size of the cut vegetables since this will affect the cooking time a bit. The vegetables will take around 40-45 minutes depending on your oven, size of the vegetables etc. Once done, keep aside.
Making the biryani masala
When the vegetables are cooking in the oven, we can start the prep for making the biryani. First rinse and soak the rice you are using for the biryani. Typically basmati rice is used and thats what I went with as well. Set a 15 minute timer and drain the rice as soon as the timer goes off. This helps remove excess starch and keeps the rice separated while cooking. Heat a large, deep pan like a Dutch oven. and add some oil/ghee. Add the whole spices including cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and let it toast in the oil for a couple of minutes. You will see the fennel, cumin and cinnamon browning a bit and smell the fragrant notes. Make sure the heat is not high to prevent burning.
Now add the onions and saute. Let it cook until it turns translucent.Add the ginger-garlic paste and let it cook well for a 4-5 minutes until you can no longer smell the raw paste. Add some water to the pan if you feel the onion mixture is drying out a bit. Now add the chopped tomatoes. Saute and add the powdered spices including turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. You can also add the slit green chillis now. After this mixture has cooked for a minute, pour some hot water and mix well. The hot water helps cook the powdered spices and helps soften the tomato-onion mixture.
Let this mixture cook down until the tomatoes are broken down. Mix in the whisked yoghurt. Add half of the the chopped cilantro(coriander leaves) and all of the mint. Season with salt and also add the garam masala powder. At this point, you can add around 3/4 of the roasted potato and cauliflower. Mix well.
Now add the drained rice. Add the water required for cooking and season this water. Mix well and close the lid. Make sure the heat is set to ‘medium’ on the stove. Set a timer for 12 minutes . Check the rice once the timer goes off. If the rice is not done, check if the pot needs a bit more water. If it does, then add half a cup of water and close the lid again. Check after 5 minutes. Turn off the heat once the rice is done.Season more if required. Top with more chopped cilantro-mint leaves and add the remaining roasted vegetables for added texture. You can also add fried onions on top.
Vegetable Biryani – Serving and Storage suggestions
Biryani is typically served with some raita to help keep the spice balanced with some cooling yoghurt. Raita is basically yoghurt seasoned with salt, cumin and a hint of chilli powder. You can also make a tadka or temper some mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillis before adding to the yoghurt. Include some chopped raw onions, grated carrots or finely diced tomatoes for more veggies and added texture. You can serve it with any Indian gravy based dish that will nicely compliment the biryani.
Vegetable biryani will do well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days easily. Reheat in the microwave or on stove top. You can add a few spoons of water to help keep the rice moist while reheating. You can also freeze and store biryani for up to 3 months in the freezer. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating it.
Well that was a long post but thank you if you are still here! I really hope you give this vegetable biryani a try because this one is a total knock out. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below. Your feedback helps me understand how I can make my posts better. You can join me on various social media including Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.
Vegetable Biryani with Potatoes and Cauliflower
- 2 cups Basmati Rice
- 2 Medium Onions peeled and finely chopped
- 3 Medium/Large Tomatoes washed and finely chopped
- 3 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 lb Yellow or Yukon Gold Potatoes around 500 g, washed well
- 2/3 lb Cauliflower Florets around 300 g, washed well
- 3-4 Green Chillis washed and slit length wise
- 1/2 + 1/2 cup Cilantro washed and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Mint Leaves washed and well chopped
- 1/2 cup Yoghurt whisked
- 6 + 1/2 cups Water
- 6 tbsp Avocado Oil or Ghee
- Salt to taste
Whole and Powdered Spices
- 2 tsp Cumin Powder
- 4 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 3 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Jeera or Shahi Jeera
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 4 pods Green Cardamom pod cracked open
- 2 pods Black Cardamom
- 5 Cloves
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Spread the potato-cauliflower mixture on one or two sheet pans. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to each pan of vegetables.Season lightly with salt. Mix well and roast in the oven for 40-45 min or until golden brown and fully cooked. Remove from heat and keep aside.
- Once the vegetables are in the oven, wash and rinse the rice couple of times. Soak in clean water for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes are up,drain and keep aside.
- When the veggies in the oven are half way through, heat 2 tbsp of oil or ghee at "medium low" level in a large deep pan. Now add all of the whole spices. Saute regularly while letting the spices toast in the oil for 2 minutes.
- Now add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the ginger garlic paste. Cook for 5 minutes until you can no longer smell the raw paste.Add the chopped tomatoes. Mix and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the powdered turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Mix and cook for a minute.Season with some salt. Add 2 cups of hot water to this mixture. Mix well and let this mixture cook down for 5-6 minutes until the onion-tomato mixture has fully softened.
- Now add the whisked yoghurt and mix. Add half of the chopped cilantro and all of the chopped mint leaves. Saute well and add around 3/4 of the cooked potato-cauliflower mixture. Add the garam masala and mix.
- Add the rice and 4 cups of water. Season with more salt. Stir the contents of the pot well and cover with a lid. Ensure the heat is maintained at "medium" to bring the water to a boil.
- After 12 minutes, stir all the contents and see if the rice is done. If it still needs more water, add around 1/2 cup of water and cover the lid again. Check after 5 minutes. Turn off the heat once the rice is completely cooked.
- Top with the remaining roasted vegetables and chopped cilantro,mint leaves. Serve hot with raita or any other dish of your choice.
- All nutritional values provided here are approximate. They are not exact values and will depend on the ingredients and quantities you use.