Vegetable Biryani

Serves 6 to 8
Biryani is a richly spiced, exotically flavored, rice dish; this version, full of vegetables and infused with spices and coconut milk, is ideal for vegetarians. It’s a meal in itself, but I also love to serve it with Chicken Tikka Masala (page 171). Leftovers get a fried egg on top for breakfast.


  • 1/3 cup plus two tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 3 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 2 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen peas


  1. In a blender, combine 1/3 cup oil, onion, salt, spices, ginger, shredded coconut, and 1/4 cup coconut milk.
  2. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large straight-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Toast the rice until lightly golden. Add the spice puree to the rice. Stir until aromatic, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add remaining coconut milk, 2 1/3 cups water, potatoes, and carrots to the skillet. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed into the rice, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the peas, cover, and steam until the peas are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
cook's note
Recipe Ingredients Lists: Long ingredients lists can be a bit daunting. Frankly, that can be a big turnoff, so I always try to get the essence of an authentic dish with the fewest possible ingredients. But Indian cuisine is incredibly elaborate and richly nuanced, and sometimes you must embrace a little challenge to get an amazing result. I keep an airtight plastic tub in the pantry to house my Indian spices. Since I don’t use them regularly, it keeps everything fresh. And having them on hand means I’m much more likely to take on a dish like this or to experiment with other Indian recipes from my cookbook collection.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: