Plant-Based Biryani

Biryani, another of the world’s most popular Indian dishes, is believed by some to have been created by Queen Mumtaz Mahal of India – the same lady the Taj Mahal was built for as a tomb – in an attempt to salvage the malnourished soldiers of the country centuries ago. Consisting traditionally of mixed rices and mixed with marinated beef, lamb, chicken or veggies in spicy yogurt. Biryani is known to have a gorgeous mix of colours – there is normally white, reddish and yellow coloured rice amongst the dish. It is so popular this side of the world that it can be gotten in every second restaurant. One of the best restaurants here in Abu Dhabi is known for its high ranking biryani.

Technically, this is known as an Indian dish but because of a lot of ambiguous roots associated with Persian culture, it’s not fully clear. In India itself, there are numerous different types of biryanis – differing a lot in spices. Some even include cinnamon undertones. Biryani never fails to have copious amounts of yogurt in it whenever I order it so I’ve tried to not only reduce the need for this, but to also use vegan yogurt. I tend not to eat much dairy these days so I love the vegan dishes I’ve been creating recently. The spices I use in this recipe can store long-term and I expect you to already have a lot of the ingredients lying around the house anyway!

This recipe serves four and is:



Rice mixture:

  • Wholegrain rice, 2 cups
  • Garam masala powder, 1 tblspn
  • Yogurt, 2 tblspns (I used the vegan plain yogurt from alpro)
  • Turmeric powder, 1 tblspns
  • Pinch of salt
  • Bay leaves, x4 if you have them (nonessential)

Vegetable mix:

  • Chopped red onion, 1
  • Garlic cloves, x2
  • Garam masala powder, 1 tblspn
  • Chopped tomatoes, 100 g
  • Turmeric powder, 1 tblspn
  • Paprika powder, 1 tblspn
  • Cauliflower, 100 g chopped well
  • Mangetout, 100 g chopped well
  • Peas, 100 g
  • Nutritional yeast, 2 tblspns
  • Vegetable/vegan stock, 1/2 cup
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Add two cups of water, to a small pot over medium heat. Allow the water to boil.
  2. Add the garam masala powder and stir well.
  3. Add in the bay leaves, if you have them. Followed by the yogurt and rice. Mix well. Leave to boil through for approx. 20 mins.
  4. In a separate pan, add olive oil and fry off the onions for a couple of minutes to sautée. Add the chopped garlic and sautée for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the turmeric, paprika and garam masala spices.
  6. Add the tomatoes, peas, chopped cauliflower and mangetout to the same pan, followed by the veg stock, nutritional yeast and yogurt. Allow everything to boil for 5-10 mins.
  7. Remove the bay leaves from the rice. Add the turmeric powder to the rice for color. Transfer the rice on top of the vegetable mixture. Place the lid onto the pan and allow to cook for another five minutes.
  8. Mix and decorate with parsley or mint and pomegranate seeds.

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