Cauliflower and green bean biriyani

cauliflower and green bean veggie vegetarian biriyani

I love Indian food as you may have already noticed by the number of Indian inspired recipes on this blog (see Vegan sweet potato and chickpea curry, Bombay-Style Potatoes and Saag Paneer, and Spicy Masala Chai) . Indian cuisine is a big part of my life, it’s diverse, it’s delicious, but probably most important (to me, at least) is the fact that the majority Indian food is either inherently vegetarian or can easily be made to be so.

Of all the Indian dishes I cook (or order from my local take-away, shhh) biriyani is probably one of my all-time favourites, and I think that’s probably true for most people. It’s filling, it’s flavourful and it’s interesting. Besides that, it’s also incredible simple and cheap to make, which is exactly why it’s a South Asian staple food. Like many cultural staples, biriyani also has many different forms, with literally millions of different family recipes, each one with a different method for how to make the perfect biriyani.

Disclaimer, I am not Indian. I’m just a wannabe foodie who was given a South Asian vegetarian cookery book at the age of 15, which sparked a lifelong interest in both the cuisine and the culture (it’s also the reason my kitchen is always healthily stocked with cardamom pods). So this is by no means a traditional biriyani, this is merely a biriyani recipe that I feel I’ve perfected over time. This is also a minimum effort biriyani. Traditionally biriyanis are cooked in the oven, covered with a pastry lid, however I don’t have time for that on a weekday, so this biriyani is made on the hob, in about 20 minutes (not including a little bit of rice prep, which can be done in advance).

I’ve also included two very simple additional recipes that go perfectly with this dish- a homemade biriyani sauce, and a mint and cucumber raita, serve with either or both. I’ve usually also serve this dish with mango chutney, because who doesn’t love mango chutney?!

Note for vegan friends: The biriyani itself is entirely vegan, to make the raita and the biriyani sauce vegan, just substitute the natural yogurt for a vegan alternative, either plain soy yogurt or coconut yogurt work well. 

Biriyani (feeds 4) 

  • 1 brown onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ‘thumb’ of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 5 or 6 green cardamom pods
  • ½ a teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of tinned tomatoes, or a little tomato purée
  • 2 cups of washed rice (which has been soaked for approximately 30 minutes in cold water)
  • 3 cups (750ml) of vegetable stock
  • large handful of trimmed green beans
  • 1 small cauliflower, washed and cut into chunks
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • A handful of toasted flaked almonds
  1. Sauté  the onions, garlic and ginger together in a little vegetable oil and allow to cook for a few minutes
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes and the spices and stir well
  3. Drain the pre-soaked rice and add to the pot, stirring to completely coat the rice in the spices
  4. Add the stock and the veg
  5. Bring the pot to the boil, before reducing to a medium-low heat
  6. Place the lid tightly on the pot and allow to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, roughly 10 minutes or so (note: make sure your lid has no holes in, if so place a clean tea towel over the pot before sealing with the lid on top)
  7. Remove from the heat, and allow to stand for a further 10 minutes with the lid on, or until the rice is tender
  8. Add the coriander and the flaked almonds and stir through, fluff up the rice before serving

Biriyani sauce

  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves
  • fenugreek seeds
  • black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • The remaining can of tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of natural yogurt
  • chopped coriander
  1. Cook the onion and garlic in a little oil before adding the spices
  2. Add the tomatoes, stir through and allow to simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. Once the tomato has lost its acidity add the yogurt, and continue to simmer for a further few minutes
  4. Garnish with a little chopped coriander


  • 250ml of natural yogurt
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ a lime
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 cm length of cucumber, finely chopped

Stir all the ingredients together, and serve in a small dish, topped with a little cucumber or mint to garnish



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