Vegetarian Biryani- “Hyderabadi Style”

Vegetarian Biryani- Serves 6IMG_5840

One of my favorite Indian dishes is Biryani. So much so that I have collected so many different recipes and variations of it from family, friends and cook books. This particular one is called “Hyderabadi Biryani” and is made with lots of fresh cilantro, fresh mint, onions, tomatoes and yogurt. I often make the chicken version of this and over this past weekend I made a vegetarian version using carrots, french beans, green peas, and potatoes. Best of all, it’s a one pot dish that is a hit with all!

Biryani is a rice-based dish layered with meat and/or vegetables. The rice and meat are cooked separately, and then layered and baked together or cooked on low flame. This allows the aromas from various spices to get fully infused, making biryani highly enjoyable and delectable.


  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 cup cilantro, washed and chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint- chopped fine
  • 2 “Thai hot” green chillies- chopped fine
  • 2 large potatoes- peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 10- 12 french beans (handful) cut in big pieces
  • 3 carrots- peeled and sliced thick
  • 1/4 cauliflower- just a couple of florets (I didn’t have any at home so I skipped it)
  • 1 medium sized tomato – grated
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste – Optional
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder- I use “Kashmiri Degi Mirch”
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola oil


  • 1 1/2 cups white basmati rice- soaked for at least half an hour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 2 star anise
  • salt to taste

Assembling the biryani:

  • 1/4 cup hot milk
  • a pinch of saffron

Pour milk in a cup and heat in microwave until hot. Add a few strands of saffron and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Mix well.


Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick. After 30 seconds add the onions and brown them. This will take 15 to 20 minutes.  Add the ginger – garlic paste and fry for a minute.IMG_5801

IMG_5802Add the cilantro, mint and green chillies and fry well. IMG_5805

Add the grated tomatoes, tomato paste (if using), and let the tomatoes cook. The oil will start to separate. Add coriander powder, turmeric, red chilly powder.

IMG_5808 Add the vegetables and mix well. Add salt to taste.IMG_5810

Add yogurt and mix well. Fry on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add hot water, cover and cook till the vegetables are cooked, this will take 20 -25 minutes (potatoes take the longest- read note). Add more water if the potatoes are taking longer to cook. I like the gravy to be thick. Check every 10 minutes to make sure the vegetables are not sticking to the bottom of the vessel. Keep on medium low flame and cook.IMG_5812

After the vegetables are cooked, let it cool for 10 minutes and add lime juice. Check for salt before layering.

Ready to be layered.



Wash and soak the rice for at least half an hour. Add cardamoms, star anise, mint leaves and salt to taste. Add water and cook  in rice cooker. Keep aside.

Layering the biryani:IMG_5815

IMG_5818Pre heat the oven to 350F. In a glass bowl or dutch oven, add the vegetables on the bottom. Add the rice on top. Sprinkle the milk with saffron on it. Close tightly with foil or a tight fitting lid and put it the oven for 20- 25 minutes at 350F until hot. Serve hot with papad and raita.IMG_5848


  • I like to use a rice cooker to cook the rice while the biryani is still cooking. That way, simultaneously both are ready.
  • While cooking the vegetables for biryani, you can add the potatoes first and let them cook for 10 minutes or so before adding the rest of the vegetables. Potatoes take longer to cook than the other vegetables. I usually just throw everything in together.
  • I like the gravy thicker in the vegetable mixture. It’s a personal preference.
  • Remove the cardamoms at the end of the cooking process from the vegetables and rice before layering it together.







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