One-Pot Green Biryani (Vegan)

Quick and easy, yet super aromatic and flavoursome, this vegan green biryani recipe will soon become a favourite on your weeknight dinner rotation. It’s loaded with green veggies, fragrant spices, sweet caramelised onions and perfectly cooked rice. Coming together in just 30 minutes, it makes the perfect family weeknight dinner.

Two plates of green biryani with yoghurt in the background

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What is biryani?

Biryani is a famous Indian dish made from long grain (typically basmati) rice, meat, fish or vegetables, and spices. Biryani doesn’t contain some of the more traditional Indian ingredients such as tomatoes, which we might find in curries.

The ingredients are layered and combined with a broth or sauce, then tightly covered and cooked over a low heat until the rice has absorbed the liquid and the other ingredients are cooked through.

What are the ingredients in vegetable biryani?

Typically, the meat or fish would be marinated in yoghurt and spices before going into the dish. As this is a vegan biryani, we’re sticking to vegetables. The key ingredients in this green biryani are:

  • Onions- sliced and quickly fried until lightly caramelised.
  • Garlic and spices- You can use fresh garlic or a garlic paste. For spices I’ve used garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric powder, chilli powder and cardamom pods.
  • Basmati rice- my choice of long grain rice.
  • Vegetables- I’ve chosen to use broccoli, spinach and frozen peas to keep it super green and healthy.
  • Stock and coconut milk- the liquid portion of the dish, just lightly creamy to make sure the rice cooks through fully.
Ingredients for green biryani

Is this a traditional recipe?

This is a quick and easy biryani, so isn’t exactly an authentic Indian recipe. Normally, biryani is quite a special occasion dish, as it is prepared and cooked over a much longer length of time. The rice in a traditional biryani is often par-boiled before going into the dish.

This recipe might be called a pulao, as the ingredients are all fried and combined together before cooking, rather than being layered in a pot. Whatever you want to call it, this is a really good starting recipe if you haven’t made vegan biryani before. It’s a simple one pot meal which makes it perfect for weeknights, and it’s packed with flavour.

Is green biryani healthy?

Traditionally, biryani contains a lot of fatty ghee and red meats, which definitely are not healthy! The great thing about this vegan biryani is that it is cooked with little oil and lots of green vegetables, making it a healthy dish.

I’ve put loads of broccoli and peas into this, so that they make up a good bulk of the serving. This helps to keep the recipe lower calorie than a normal biryani, as the vegetable to rice ratio is higher. Per serving, you’re getting a lot more nutritional goodness!

How to make green biryani

Making this easy biryani couldn’t be simpler! It comes together in one pot, with minimal hands on time- and then it cooks itself! Before you start, weigh out the rice, and leave it to soak in a bowl of water until you’re ready to use it.

The first step is to get the onions on the go. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, along with half a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. 

Onions frying in pot

If you want to save on cooking pots you can transfer these to a plate and use the same pot for cooking the vegan biryani. If you want to save on time, you can get the biryani on the go in a separate pot whilst the onions are cooking!

To make the green biryani, heat another tablespoon of oil in a large lidded pot. Add the chopped garlic and spices, and fry for a minute until fragrant. Drain the rice and add it to the pan, and stir to combine with the spices.

Add the peas, broccoli, stock and coconut milk, and stir everything well to combine. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cover tightly with a lid and leave to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

Once 20 minutes has passed, remove the lid and stir through the spinach until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Take the cooked onions and lay them on top of the rice. If the rice is cooked and all the water absorbed, replace the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes. If the rice still has a slight bite to it, return to the heat, covered, for 5 more minutes.

To serve, sprinkle over chopped coriander leaves or fresh mint leaves.

Tips for the best quick biryani 

If you’re wondering how to make the best easy vegetable biryani, here are some of my top tips:

What is the best biryani rice? 

The best biryani rice has to be basmati rice. It has a long grain which does not get sticky, meaning that the grains of rice keep separate in the dish. You could try this dish with brown basmati rice if you wanted to keep it even healthier. This will just need an extra splash of water and a little more cooking time.

If you were in a pinch and needed to use a normal long grain rice, this is an option. Long grain rice is not as aromatic as basmati rice, so won’t be as flavoursome, but would work. I haven’t tested this recipe with long grain rice, but I would suggest using the ‘easy cook’ variety which has a shorter cooking time.

As this is a rice dish, it’s naturally gluten free, making it great for those with gluten intolerances or allergies. Just make sure your vegetable stock is gluten free too.

Photograph of two plates of vegan biryani

What type of pot is best for biryani?

The best type of pot to cook biryani in at home is a dutch oven. A cast iron pot like this has thick walls which helps the green biryani to cook evenly all over. 

The heavy lid also creates a really good seal to keep all of the steam trapped inside. Enamel lined cast iron pots are great, as the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom and they are easy to clean.

Vegan biryani in cast iron pot

Biryani spices

To get the most flavour out of your easy biryani, it’s important that the spices are fresh. It’s always best to buy spices in small quantities rather than big bags (unless you’re catering for lots of people!) as this doesn’t give them time to go off. 

Ideally, your spices shouldn’t be kept for more than a year, and should be stored tightly covered in a cool dry place. They should be brightly coloured and strongly scented- if they’re not, then they may be past their best.

When it comes to the spices in this biryani, don’t skip on them! They’re the key to the delicious aromatic flavour of this dish.

What to serve with green biryani

Biryani is great on it’s own, but if you’re looking to jazz it up a little, here’s a few serving ideas:

  • Serve it with a big dollop of dairy-free raita or yoghurt mixed with fresh chopped mint.
  • Make it part of a feast, at a table with other curries, rice dishes and breads.
  • A fresh cucumber salad is really refreshing alongside this dish.
  • Any other Indian chutneys would be great with this- try lime pickle, mango chutney or a sweet tamarind chutney.
A forkful of vegan biryani and two plates

Biryani FAQs

Can biryani be reheated?

Yes, biryani can be reheated. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days, then for best results reheat in the microwave. Heat for 2-3 minutes on high, stirring halfway through. It must be piping hot. 
If you don’t have a microwave, you can reheat in a pan. Add the green biryani to a saucepan with 1-2 tsps of water, and warm it over a medium heat until hot through. Make sure to stir the rice so that the heat is evenly distributed.

Can biryani be frozen?

You can freeze vegan biryani in airtight containers for up to 3 months. To eat, you can heat from frozen in the microwave for 5-6 minutes with a little water, stirring halfway through. As above, it must be piping hot through. 
Alternatively, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat as above.

Ingredient substitutes and additions

When it comes to the veggies in this recipe, you can swap them out for your favourites if you would like to. The best vegetables for this dish are those which don’t require too much cooking, such as cauliflower or zucchini. I wouldn’t recommend using any hard vegetables such as butternut squash, as these may not cook in the time given.
If you’d like a little more protein, you can add some tofu to the recipe. Cube it and lightly fry to sprinkle on top of the finished dish, or crumble it through when you add in the vegetables.

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One pot green biryani Pin
Two plates of green biryani with yoghurt in the background

One-Pot Green Biryani (Vegan)

Chloe from Forkful of Plants
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Quick and easy, yet super aromatic and flavoursome, this vegan green biryani recipe will soon become a favourite on your weeknight dinner rotation. It’s loaded with green veggies, fragrant spices, sweet caramelised onions and perfectly cooked rice. Coming together in just 30 minutes, it makes the perfect family weeknight dinner.
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients
  

  • 250 g basmati rice* ~1¼ cups
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 medium red onions sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 cardamon pods seeds removed and ground
  • 400 g frozen peas ~3 cups
  • 250 g broccoli florets ~1 head broccoli
  • 400 ml vegetable stock ~1½ cups
  • 200 ml coconut milk ~¾ cup
  • 100 g spinach ~2 large handfuls
  • 15 g mint or coriander chopped

Instructions
 

  • Before you start, weigh out the rice, and leave it to soak in a bowl of water until you’re ready to use it.
  • Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large lidded pot** over a medium heat. Add the onions, along with half a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. 
  • Transfer the onions to a plate and heat the other tablespoon of oil in the pot. Add the chopped garlic and spices, and fry until fragrant, around 4 minutes. Drain the rice and add it to the pan, and stir to combine with the spices.
  • Add the peas, broccoli, stock and coconut milk, and stir well to combine. Bring to a low simmer, then cover tightly with the lid and leave to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir the spinach through until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay the cooked onions on top of the rice.
  • If the rice is cooked and all the water is absorbed, replace the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes. If the rice still has a slight bite to it, return to the heat, covered, for 5 more minutes.
  • To serve, sprinkle over chopped coriander leaves or fresh mint leaves.

Notes

*If you were in a pinch and needed to use a normal long grain rice, this is an option. Long grain rice is not as aromatic as basmati rice, so won’t be as flavoursome, but would work. I haven’t tested this recipe with long grain rice, but I would suggest using the ‘easy cook’ variety which has a shorter cooking time.
 
**The best type of pot to cook biryani in at home is a dutch oven. A cast iron pot like this has thick walls which helps the green biryani to cook evenly all over. 
The heavy lid also creates a really good seal to keep all of the steam trapped inside. Enamel lined cast iron pots are great, as the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom and they are easy to clean.

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2 thoughts on “One-Pot Green Biryani (Vegan)”

  • 5 stars
    I have made several Biryanis over the years, this recipe is up there with the best of them. What makes it stand out is the addition of the fried onions on top, giving a sweet undertone which perfectly balances the spices. Nice to see a recipe which gives four generous portions, you will not go hungry after this meal.

    • So glad to hear you enjoyed it Graham, thank you for the great review! We do like our generous portions 😀

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