Sunday, February 7, 2021

Vegetable Dum Biriyani

Biriyani is considered special and made on special occasions. It is also made when special guests come home. Without biriyani, there can't be any celebrations. Biriyani is a layered dish with layers of alternating rice and veggies (or meat). This is very much similar to layered pasta bakes or lasagna, except that this not cheesy, but equally packed with flavors from spices. There many variations in the recipe for biriyani. Every household may have some variations and it also differs from region to region. 

But, Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani is very popular. "Dum" is cooking in its own steam and the rice and veggie (in veggie biriyani) layers get cooked in steam completely. Thus it is flavor-packed. It is very essential not to cook the rice and veggies completely. The rice has to be soaked for 30 minutes. Both the rice and veggies need to be cooked separately, only cooked to 3/4th. I love veggies and hence this is also packed with veggies. The veggies need not be marinated. They are to be cooked with the ground ginger-garlic-chili paste, spices, and some yogurt.  They are then layered and steamed. The rice would be cooked perfectly and the veggies crisp-tender. Cooking in butter or ghee (clarified butter) gives the maximum flavor. Hence the flavor and specialty. 

Since the spices give the aroma, flavor, and taste to the dish, having all the spices in hand is very much essential. Some people make their own biriyani masala or use store-bought biriyani masala powder to make biriyani. Garam masala also can be used. Just add a little the coriander-cumin powder to give extra flavor. Also, this recipe can be veganized too. (I will post it soon). Stone flower (aka dagad phool or kalpasi) is a lichen, Parmotrema perlatum, commonly known as the black stone flower, is a species of lichen used as a spice in India. It gives a great aroma. It is available in Indian stores and Amazon. Whole black peppercorns can also be added when you fry the spices for the veggie mix. Replace ghee/butter with oil, yogurt, and milk with plant-based yogurt and milk, if you want to serve to vegan guests. 

There is nothing more comforting and more special than a bowl of biriyani! But, it needs the patience to prepare as it consumes some time. You will need at least one and a half hours. It may take longer if you are making more quantity. When the rice soaks, prep work with veggies and grinding ginger-garlic-chili paste can be done. When the rice cooks, cook the veggies side by side. Then layer them and steam for 25-30 minutes. When it steams, raita, salad, and lassi can be made. Once it is ready, just set the plates and enjoy! 

You can whip up a quick one but this Dum Biriyani is special! The taste and aroma of slow-cooked veggies and rice in their own juice made steam would definitely make it an "out of the world" experience. The time taken to cook it will make a person extra special. So, you will need a minimum of one and half hours and this helps in planning. Yes, if you are making this for special people yes it needs good planning :-). Just this Dum Biriyani is enough for a special meal and is the perfect one for a dinner date. I am linking this post for Dinner Date Recipes from #OurFamilyTable. We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too! Also, check here for a Valentine's Day full day menu - Desi style!


For the rice

Basmati rice - 1.5 cups
Water - 5 cups
Oil - 1 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cloves - 3
Cardamom - 3
Black cardamom- 1
Cinnamon - 1-in piece
Star anise - 1
Water for soaking

For the veggies

Onion - 1 cup, sliced
Garlic - 8 to 10
Ginger - 4-in piece
Thai chili - 4 or 5
Bay leaf - 1
Cloves - 4
Cardamom - 3
Whole cardamom - 1
Cinnamon - 2-in piece
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Stone flower - 1 tbsp
Tomato - 3/4 cup, chopped
Yogurt - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1.5 tsp
Carrots - 1/2 cup, julienne
Cauliflower - 1 and 1/4 cups, small florets
Beans - 1/2 cup,1-in long
Peas - 1/2 cup
Potatoes - 1 cup, diced
Garam masala - 2 tsp
Coriander-cumin powder - 1 tsp
Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Ghee or clarified butter - 5-6 tbsp

For layering

Onions - 2 cups, sliced
Cashews - 1/4 cup
Mint - 1/2 cup
Cilantro - 1/2 cup
Saffron - 2 generous pinches
Milk - 1/4 cup


Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat 1 tsp ghee on a medium flame, fry the cashews till golden brown and set aside. Heat 2 tbsp ghee and sauté the sliced onions till they are caramelized stirring now and then. This may take 15 - 20 minutes. Set aside. Grind the ginger, garlic, and 2-3 Thai chili to a paste with 1 or 2 tbsp water and set aside. Puree the tomatoes and keep them aside.

Drain the rice. Bring about 5 cups of water to boil on a medium flame. add salt, oil, and spices for cooking rice. Add the rice. Cook for about 5-6 minutes without reducing the flame. They should be cooked 3/4th. Switch off, drain the water completely. Fluff the rice with a fork and set it aside.

Heat ghee in a pan, add the spices for the veggies and sauté for a minute. Add the sliced onions, green chilies, and cook for about 3-5 minutes till they become transparent. Add the ground ginger-garlic-chili paste. Cook for 3 minutes till the raw smell goes. Add the pureed tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the beans, and potatoes and sauté for 2-3 minutes since they will take longer to cook.

Then add the rest of the veggies. Add salt, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, coriander-cumin powder. Mix thoroughly. Beat the curd and add. Mix thoroughly the veggies and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes. They should be more than halfway cooked as they will continue to cook while steaming. Set aside

For layering: 

Take a heavy-bottomed pot and apply ghee or butter on the bottom and sides of the pot. Divide the rice and the cashews, onions, cilantro-mint into 4 portions. Divide the veggies into three portions. Soak the saffron in warm milk. Add a layer of rice, followed by a portion of cashews, onions, cilantro, and mint. Then add a layer of veggies. Repeat the same twice till the veggies are completely done. Add the last portion of rice as a layer. Sprinkle the remaining onion, nut, cilantro-mint on top. Drizzle the saffron milk on top evenly. This will help to blend the juices from the masala to rice or from one layer to the other. Cover tightly with a foil or a towel. Cover with a lid.

To steam, "Dum": 

Heat a cast-iron griddle or pan when you begin to layer. By the time you finish, it would be very hot. Lower, the heat to a low setting, keep the layered biriyani pot on top. Steam for 25-30 minutes.

Serve hot making sure to serve with a mix of rice and veggies. Alternatively, fluff the mixture gently and serve. 

This is best served with raita and/or biriyani curry, and salad.

Here is a link to the recipes shared today for "Date Night Dinner Recipes" from #OurFamilyTable group. Check these out for a great Valentine's Day dinner!


  1. This sounds so flavorful and delicious! I'm always looking for more vegetarian meals.

  2. I am insanely crazy for the lamb biryani version and this has me wanting to get into the kitchen and make it again. Although I do eat vegetarian occasionally so this is a great option. Yummy!

  3. I've never had biriyani but it looks delicious. You have soooo many veggies packed in there, it's great!

  4. The color is so beautiful and I could almost smell this on the screen. Yum!