Curry for Change

Changing the lives of families
who suffer from hunger.

Vegetable Biryani


Feeds 6-8:

For the vegetable filling:

300gm broccoli/cauliflower

3 carrots

100gm green beans

4 small new potatoes

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 large onions

1 small handful cashews

4 tbsp oil


For the spice paste:

2 tbsp Greek yoghurt

1 tsp whole coriander

1 green chilli

1 tbsp tomato puree

Half tsp cumin

1 inch ginger

3 fat garlic cloves

1 inch ginger

3 cm mace

Small handful fresh coriander


For the rice:

600gm rice

3 bay leaves

3 black cardamoms

6 green cardamoms

8 black peppers

2 star anise

6 cloves

3 inches cinnamon

Half a nutmeg

1 teaspoon rose water/ kewra water

2 pinches saffron

4 tbsp milk

3 tsp salt

3 tbsp ghee


  1. Bring a full kettle to boil. Wash the rice two times in a sieve, then leave to soak in cold water.
  2. First make the vegetable filling. Peel and slice one onion and cut the vegetables into small pieces. Puree all the ingredients under the spice paste section in a small food processor using a tablespoon or two of hot water.
  3. Bring three tablespoons of oil to heat on high in a shallow pan. When it’s hot and sizzles around a wooden spoon, add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes until golden caramelized. Adding a pinch of salt will speed things up.
  4. Next add the spice paste and cook for another five minutes stirring well. You may add a tablespoon or two of warm water to prevent the paste from getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then add the vegetables, lower the heat to medium and cook covered for 10 minutes until they are soft but not soggy, adding a bit of water at a time if you need it to help the cooking. Add salt to your taste, the garam masala, take it off the heat and start on the rice.
  5. Turn the oven on to 180 degrees centigrade. Also, warm the milk and soak the saffron in it.
  6. Now drain the rice. Bring the ghee to heat on high in a large pot. When the ghee is hot, add the whole spices and as they sizzle up, tip in the drained rice and the salt. Sauté the rice in the ghee and whole spices for a minute until the rice turns translucent. Bring it to boil with five cups of hot water, then cover and simmer for five minutes and take it off the heat.
  7. Now layer it all. Tip half of the rice into a casserole pan, grate a quarter of the nutmeg over it and sprinkle half the saffron milk and threads, and half a teaspoon of the rose water (or kewra essence if using) across it in a zig zag fashion. Top with the vegetable filling, and end with the remaining rice, the rest of the saffron with its milk and rose water/kewra essence.
  8. Cover the casserole pan top with foil then stick the lid on, and finish in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, peel and slice the second onion and sauté it with a pinch of salt for 10 minutes until golden, tossing in the cashews towards the end to toast them lightly.
  9. Serve in the casserole dish, with the onions and cashews sprinkled on top. Your guests need to give the rice they serve themselves a good stir before they tuck into it.

This recipe is part of Mallika Basu's vegetarian three course Curry for Change menu.Get the entire menu.

Back to recipes