Saffron Vegetarian Biryani

    50 mins

    Here is a beautiful vegetarian feast of golden saffron-scented basmati rice combined with spiced vegetables. Serve with mint raita, or a simple mint and cucumber salad.

    6 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 onion, sliced thinly
    • 50 g raisins
    • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
    • 8 whole black peppercorns
    • 6 cloves
    • 6 whole cardamoms, crushed and shells discarded
    • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 200 g baby potatoes, scrubbed and diced
    • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
    • 150 g thin green beans, trimmed and chopped
    • 1 courgette, sliced
    • 150 g frozen peas
    • 200 g Greek yoghurt
    • 300 g basmati rice, soaked and rinsed
    • pinch of saffron
    • To Garnish
    • 1 tablespoon toasted flaked almonds
    • fresh coriander sprigs
    • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

    Prep:20min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:50min 

    1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large flameproof casserole or deep frying pan. Add the onion and fry on a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12–15 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the raisins to the pan and stir around for 30 seconds, then remove and set aside with the onion.
    2. Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat, then add the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and coriander seeds and stir around for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low. Add the ground cumin, cayenne and garlic and stir for a further 30–60 seconds until you can smell the aroma of the spices.
    3. Stir in all the vegetables, then gradually add the yoghurt, still on a low heat. Add 4 tbsp of water, cover the pan tightly and leave to simmer gently for 12 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, put the rice in another pan with the saffron, 550ml water and a pinch of salt, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan tightly and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is just starting to become tender.
    5. Spoon the rice on top of the vegetables. Re-cover the pan tightly and cook gently for a further 10–15 minutes until both the rice and vegetables are tender. Alternatively, layer the vegetable curry and rice in a casserole, cover and bake at 180°C/gas 4 for 20–30 minutes.
    6. Scatter the reserved onions and raisins over the top together with the almonds, coriander and wedges of egg. Serve immediately.

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    Reviews in English (4)


    Altered ingredient amounts. As I frequently do, I scaled this recipe for one. Where you go less than ½ a teaspoon, call it a pinch! Added a bit of caraway seed for an aniseed twang.  -  17 Jan 2009  (Review from Allrecipes UK | Ireland)


    This is the perfect balance of hot and sweet. Don't be put off by all the spices — it is well worth it! Raisins toast up very well in the pan. In my opinion single or double cream is preferable as Greek yoghurt tends to curdle with prolonged simmering. Perhaps it could be added toward the end, so you still have the souring agent.  -  19 Jan 2009  (Review from Allrecipes UK | Ireland)


    Very tasty, beautiful aroma, perhaps could be a bit hotter. Just made it again and taste was well balanced this time. Must gave cooked it better or ingredients were fresher.  -  10 Feb 2015  (Review from Allrecipes UK | Ireland)