This delicious vegetable biryani recipe features basmati rice, potato and a spiced coconut gravy for a flavourful vegan rice and veggie dish that’s perfect for a satisfying, comforting meal.

Vegan vegetable rice biryani with onions, potato and peppers on a plate with a fork.

Recipe Features

  • vegan and gluten-free
  • can be made oil-free
  • perfect dish for exploring new flavours and cooking techniques
  • enjoy for a satisfying and comforting plant-based meal that’s packed with flavour!

What is biryani?

Biryani is a mixed rice dish originating among Muslim communities in India and it traditionally features basmati rice, meat, fragrant spices and a thick gravy.

Though the dish is considered to have originated in India, its exact origin is uncertain. Some historians say the dish is a mix of Persian pilaf and Indian rice dishes and that it actually originated in Persia and was brought to India by traders, where it further developed into the variations we see today.

There are many variations of biryani (kacchi, tehari and thalassery among many others!) found throughout India and in other regions such as Pakistan, Iran, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and even South Africa.

While the main components of biryani are typically rice, protein (various meats or seafood), gravy and spices it may include eggs, vegetables, cashews or dried fruit, depending on the regional variety.

This is not an authentic biryani recipe but is inspired by Indian cuisine and flavours. For authentic recipes, check out:


Ingredient Notes

Visual of ingredients needed for vegetable biryani labelled with text.

The ingredient list may seem long but it’s mostly spices and basic vegetables so don’t be discouraged!

  • potato – you can use russet or Yukon gold, peel before use
  • ginger – fresh ginger is best but if you only have ground, it can be substituted with 1 tsp ground ginger if needed
  • spices – the flavour profile is best with each spice added but it’s not a deal breaker if you’re missing one so don’t worry too much!
  • yogurt – use plain unsweetened coconut yogurt (if you’re not vegan or don’t need the recipe to be dairy-free you can use any plain thick yogurt)
  • rice – basmatic is recommended but jasmine will work as well

For more Indian-inspired recipes featuring similar ingredients, check out this vegan butter tofu and vegan vegetable korma recipe.

Complete list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is located in the recipe card below.


Step by Step Instructions

Step 1. In a heavy bottom oven-safe pot that has a lid, saute half of the onions until golden brown and slightly crispy. Remove them from the pan and set aside for later.

Browned sliced onions cooking in a large pot.

Step 2. In the same pan, add the rest of the onions along with the garlic, ginger and jalapeno.

Cook for about 5 minutes until softened and fragrant, then add the spices and cook for a few more minutes.

Quick Tip: If the pan is too dry and the spices start to stick, add a splash of water to loosen them from the bottom of the pan.

Jalapenos, onion, garlic and ginger cooking with onions in a large pot.

Step 3. Add the rest of the vegetables and stir until fully mixed with the spices and onions.

Add the coconut yogurt and water and stir until incorporated. Bring the mixture to a light simmer, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Bell pepper, cauliflower, potato and celery cooking in a large metal pan.

Step 4. While the sauce cooks, start the rice.

Add the rice, water and spices to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Let cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes. Once the rice is about 80% cooked, strain off any extra water that may be left in the pot.

Quick Note: We aren’t fully cooking rice here as it’s going to finish cooking in the gravy. It should still have a bit of “bite” to it.

Step 5. To assemble for the oven, remove half of the gravy from the pot, spread half of the rice on top of the gravy and then top with half of the fresh herbs and fried onions from earlier.

Spread the remaining gravy on top of the rice and finish with the remaining rice, fresh herbs and onions.

Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

Overhead view of vegetable biryani topped with onions and herbs in a pot.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and serve immediately, top with more fresh cilantro and crushed cashews, if desired.

Overhead view of a plate of vegetable biryani with rice, onions and fresh herbs.

FAQs


What should I serve with biryani?

Biryani is a meal on its own so side dishes usually include flavour enhancers like raita, a cucumber mint yogurt sauce, pickled onions or various types of gravy.

What if i don’t have an oven-safe pot?

If you do not have an oven safe pot, you can cook on the stovetop over low heat.

I would recommend placing a frying pan underneath the stovetop pot for the final stage of cooking to avoid any chance of burning.

How long does this keep?

Biryani stores well in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Reheat as needed on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated to your preference.

Is biryani healthy?

What is and isn’t healthy is always a bit subjective and depends on individual nutritional needs.

That being said, this recipe contains nutrient-rich spices, vegetables and fresh herbs, along with a good balance of protein, fat and fibre, so I consider biryani to be a healthy dish that can be enjoyed anytime.

Feel free to add your choice of protein to make it a more balanced and substantial meal!

Fork taking a forkful of vegetable biryani off of a small plate.

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Overhead view of vegetable biryani topped with onions and herbs in a pot.

Vegan Spiced Rice and Vegetables (Biryani)

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan

This vegetable biryani recipe features basmati rice, potato and a spiced coconut gravy for a flavourful vegan rice dish that’s perfect for a satisfying and comforting meal.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Sauce and Vegetables:

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced – divided (225 g) 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (replace with broth or water for an oil-free recipe)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (10 g) 
  • 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced (15 g) 
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (30 g) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam marsala 
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 
  • 2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and diced (300 g)
  • 1 stalk celery, washed and diced (60 g)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped (125 g)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced thin (125 g) 
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (180 g) 
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened coconut yogurt 
  • 1/2 cup water 

For the Rice:

  • 3 cups basmati rice, well-rinsed and drained (300 g) 
  • 6 cups water (1500 ml) 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1/4 tsp cardamon 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp salt 

For Assembly:

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees 
  2. In a heavy bottom oven safe  pot with a lid, sauté half of your sliced onions until golden brown and slightly crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside for later. 
  3. In the same pan over medium heat, add the remaining onions with the garlic, ginger and sliced jalapeños. Cook until translucent and aromatic about 5 minutes, add your spices and continue to cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes ( if the pan is to dry and the spices begin to stick, add a splash of water to loosen them from the bottom of the pot)
  4. Add the remaining vegetables and stir until fully mixed with spices and onions. Add your coconut yogurt and 1/2 cup water, stir together until fully incorporated. Bring to a mild simmer and cover, continue to cook on very low heat covered for 10 minutes. 
  5. While the gravy is cooking start your rice. In a medium saucepan add your rice, water and spices. Bring to a boil and leave to cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes, you want the rice to still have a bit of a “bite” to it. Once rice is about 80% cooked, strain any extra water that may be left in the pot. 
  6. To assemble, remove 50% of your gravy from that heavy bottom pot, spread half of your rice on top of the gravy and top with half of your fresh herbs and fried onions from earlier. Spread the remaining gravy on top of the rice and finish with the remaining rice fresh herbs and onions. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Once cooked remove from the oven and serve immediately, top with more fresh cilantro and crushed cashews. 

Notes

If you do not have an oven safe pot, you can cook stove top over low heat. I would recommend placing a frying pan underneath your stove top pot for the final stage of cooking to avoid any chance of burning.

Storing: Store in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 252
  • Sodium: 441 mg
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 36 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 7 g

Keywords: vegan biryani, vegetable biryani