Vegetable Biryani is a bold and flavorful Indian rice dish with bell peppers, peas, carrots and potatoes in a spiced rice dish made with turmeric, garam masala and other warm spices.
We’re working through a list of our favorite Indian recipes including Indian Butter Chicken and Easy Chicken Tikka Masala and it felt only right the next recipe shared would be a biryani dish which is amazing served with Cucumber Raita.
Easy Vegetable Biryani
Biryani has always been a recipe I’ve been intimidated to make even though it looks like it would be a recipe that’s easier to make than most Indian dishes. The rice is always so heavily flavored I worry about how long to cook it for and how the final combination of vegetables and rice will cook together so both are perfectly tender and soft at the same time.
When I started cooking with my family friend who is well versed in Indian cooking my first request was chicken biryani (coming soon). We discussed spices, I mentioned I’d only made biryani with a spice packet before, never mixing single spices together to put together that spicy, bold, flavorful rice on my own.
This biryani is easier than most, no whole spices being toasted and ground. No red curry paste or ginger garlic pastes are needed. The resulting flavors are incredibly delicious and addicting.
What to serve with vegetable biryani:
Most Indian recipes work well together, this dish is a bit spicy so a yogurt raita would be great to cool it off a little. Naan would also be a delicious side option as would other vegetarian Indian dishes like saag paneer or vegetable korma.
What kind of rice is used in vegetable biryani:
A classic biryani is made using basmati rice. This rice is thinner and longer than a traditional long grain rice.
How do you make biryani rice?
The rice is traditionally made using ghee (clarified butter) along with onions, garlic and ginger. Once cooked vegetables are added in with spices and cooked until the spices bloom. Rice is added along with stock and cooked until fluffy.
Why is biryani rice yellow?
The yellow coloring in the rice comes from the use of turmeric along with other spices. These spices are added into the dish before the uncooked rice is mixed in.
Tools used in the making of Vegetable Biryani:
Basmati Rice: The perfect rice for the biryani, do not substitute long grain rice.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven: I used to fry in my cast iron skillet, but this dutch oven is perfect for cooking the vegetables and rice, maintaining heat without any hot spots that may burn the food.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or ghee if available
- 1 yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 roma tomato minced finely
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 carrot sliced into thin coins
- 2 russet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 1 green bell pepper sliced
- 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups basmati rice rinsed and drained
- Add olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and ½ cup water.
- Bring to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the peas, carrot, potato, bell pepper, celery and cauliflower and stir well.
- Add in the salt, cayenne, black pepper, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon, stirring well.
- Add in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
- Rinse basmati rice.
- Add in the basmati rice, reduce to low heat and cook (covered) for 18-20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for five minutes before opening and serving.
This is so good! I swear it tastes like what we get in an Indian restaurant. I have made it three times already. I added green beans and 2x the veggies and it was perfect that way too! Highly recommend this recipe!
Yay, that’s what we like to hear!
I found this easy to make. Added cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds, whole cloves for a more authentic taste. Find it better to almost cook through the potatoes. If using brown basmati need to add much more time.
We do recommend using our Indian Raita which has yogurt (https://dinnerthendessert.com/indian-raita/) recipe to top off this recipe!
This was a wonderful recipe – paired it with some curry spiced tofu and my family loved it, including both the 12 and 14 year old. I changed up the veggies to be green beans, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and peas. Next time, I will put in less cayenne to meet my other family members’ very Minnesotan taste buds! ? will definitely be making it again
When you say a roma tomato how big is it? Otherwise it’s a pretty nebulous concept
I rolled my eyes so hard at this comment it’s ridiculous..
Nebulous! Haha, it is just a tomato.
Best Biryani recipe I’ve tried! My whole family loves it. Will be in regular rotation
This was my first time ever making biryani and it turned out perfectly! The recipe is simple, but the flavors are complex and amazing. It’s delicious! My Indian friend loved it too and complimented me. Excellent recipe! Thank you!!!
Delicious!!! Will add some chickpeas next time.
This was absolutely delicious and very easy to make. Flavor was very similar to the rice at our favorite Indian restaurant. I would skip the cayenne next time if serving it as a side dish. I served it with spicy tandoori lamb kebobs. I did cut the amount of salt in half as I used sea salt, It is definitely a keeper and will become a go to recipe.
One more question, Can I use brown basmati rice?
I love veg biryani but the only way I’ve had is frozen. I’d like to try this but what spices do I reduce or eliminate so it’s not to spicy?
The only thing that’s spicy in the recipe is the cayenne pepper, so just leave that out and you’ll still have an amazing dish!
Thank you. What adjustments are needed to use brown rice?
This was delicious! It made a lot more than I expected though so I froze half of it. Next time I would skip the salt because there was salt in the veggie broth and in the canned tomatoes. Doing think we would miss it especially with all the other tasty spices. I did find it a bit time consuming to make but worth it!
When do you add the coriander? Is it ground coriander?
This is one of my favourite recipes.
Today we’re having it with Curried Honey Mustard Chicken.
I often double this recipe so that I have leftovers ( great reheated).
Thank-you for this awesomeness!??
This is so easy to make, and so healthy and delicious!
The flavor is incredible and everyone (even my children) eat this up. HOWEVER, I often have a hard time getting all of the rice to cook. Anyone else? I am following the directions exactly, cooking for 20 mins and letting set for five. There always seems to be a layer of undercooked rice on top. Help!
Thanks Nicole! What is your water to rice ratio? Are you in a higher elevation?
Hi, I am not at high elevation, and I am using the 4 cups of broth called for. Does soaking the rice help with this?
So relieved to find this recipe! All the other ones online require ingredients I don’t have at home, or more than one pot to clean!
Glad you found the site! I hope you loved the recipe!
This was quick and delicious! I made a couple of changes due to what I had on hand – skipped the celery and potatoes and doubled the amount of cauliflower and peas. Also, tempered the spice by adding them before all the vegetables and letting them cook for a few minutes. Will definitely be making this again!
So glad you enjoyed it!
Up up up, good
Can this be done in a slow cooker? If so can I just throw everything in including the rice? Thank you 🙂
I haven’t tested the recipe in the slow cooker so I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
What a delicious recipe, Sabrina. Earthy and easy to prepare. Thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome, Bianca.
Can i freeze the left overs?
Of course! Just make sure to cool it down to room temperature before placing it in an airtight container or storage bag. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
This was super easy to make a very delicious! I loved it!
Do you use cumin seed or ground cumin?
I used ground cumin for this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!
Great recipe obviously you can substitute vegetables the methodology is spot on.It’s great to have recipes that you can slightly altered I E add chicken or any other cooked meat and still end up with a delicious dish. I am a very happy follower!
Thanks for the 5 stars, Joe.
I been trying different recipes for a long time but this one is the closest to restaurant taste i could find . I left out celery and put in chopped green beans. Basically do what you use to. I made enough to fill 2 small takeaway tubs by doing half the broth , 1 potato, one cup of rice ,3/4 tbsp ginger and 3/4 tbsp garlic .the rest i used the same measures. Thankyou so much this really has made my day .
I don’t own a Dutch Oven but my large thick bottomed frying pan with lid worked perfectly. It makes quite a lot so there was plenty for leftovers. Really easy and tasty!
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