Pantry Staples Vegetarian Biriyani

If you have dried or canned legumes/beans in your pantry, basmati rice and Indian spices in your pantry, and veggies in the fridge, then this vegetarian biriyani is the fragrant, nutritious and delicious meal for you!

This dish freezes well, so make a big batch and eat it over the coming weeks.

Serves 5-6
Prep time – 30 mins
Cooking time – 45 mins

Wine Pairing: off-dry Riesling; Pinot Gris; Pinot Noir


*If using dried chickpeas or similar legumes, soak them overnight and boil them until just cooked. If you’re using whole lentils, you can simply soak in hot water for 30mins and then simmer for 15-20mins until al dente.

Fried Onions
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp oil
Curry Base
  • 3 cups soaked and cooked legumes (e.g. dried chickpeas & whole red lentils) or 2-3 cans of legumes
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (bottled is fine)
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic (bottled is fine)
  • 2 green chillies diced (if you have it)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala or curry powder (If you don’t have this, double the cumin and coriander and add ½ tsp cinnamon and 2 bay leaves)
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (or paprika for a less spicy version)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tomatoes diced or 2/3 cup tomato puree or canned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
Other Ingredients
  • 1½ cup basmati or long-grain rice, washed and soaked in water for an hour (brown basmati works well too)
  • Coriander and mint chopped (if you have it)
  • Optional: ½ cup natural yogurt for extra creaminess and a bit of tang
  • Optional: Whole Spices – 1 Cinnamon stick , 4 Cloves, 3 Cardamom, & Bay Leaf
  • Optional: 2 tbsp melted butter mixed with a pinch of paprika for colour
  • Your choice of vegetables from the fridge cut into bite sized pieces – I used green beans, cauliflower and capsicum
  • Serve with yogurt mixed with some lemon juice and spicy mango chutney. If you don’t have the chutney then substituting with chilli sauce will do.
  • Roasted cashews and chopped coriander for garnish


*It helps to watch the video first to understand the recipe process

  1. Pan fry sliced onions in oil until browned (about 5min) and set aside
  2. Now for the curry base – heat a deep pan or pot on medium flame and add 1 tbsp oil
  3. Fry the onion, garlic, ginger and green chilli until slightly browned
  4. Add the ground spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric, chilli powder) and cook until fragrant. Add a dash of water if needed to prevent burning
  5. Stir in tomatoes and the legumes. Season with salt, pepper and sugar, then simmer for 5-10mins until legumes are soft. Add a bit of water if you prefer the curry with more sauce
  6. Adjust for salt and chilli as needed
  7. Par cook the rice in a big pot of boiling water with whole spices for 5 mins until just tender, then strain and set aside
  8. To layer the biriyani, you need a heavy bottom pot like a Dutch oven. The curry will be at the bottom with two layers of rice on top
  9. Spoon the curry into the bottom of the pot, then add vegetables on top sprinkled with a bit of water to help the steaming process, followed by half the amount of rice
  10. Drizzle rice with half the melted butter on the rice then top with half the herbs and fried onions
  11. Add the second layer of rice, melted butter, fried onions and herbs
  12. Heat pot over a low flame for 15-20mins until warmed through and vegetables are cooked.
  13. Folder gently to mix the layers together
  14. Serve hot, topped with roasted cashews, fresh coriander and a spicy yogurt sauce
  15. Add a fried egg on top if you please!
Step 1 – Fried sliced onions
Step 7 – Par cook the rice

The curry base
The finished product!

Dinner is served!

Published by nonnachong

A lover of food and how it unites us!

One thought on “Pantry Staples Vegetarian Biriyani

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