This easy oven-baked vegan biryani is a delicious rice dish to serve as a weeknight supper, or with a feast of curries and naan bread.
What do you serve when you have friends over for dinner? I like to serve a 'choosing tea' as my kids would call it - a variety of dishes for people to help themselves to. That way you can have some spicy and some mild, lots of different textures and flavours but with no pressure on anyone if there's something they don't like or are unfamiliar with.
A table groaning with curries, dhal, naan bread, rice, chutneys and pickles is usually a winner. But it can be quite a lot of work, so a rice dish that basically cooks itself in the oven whilst you're getting on with other jobs definitely lightens the load.
And this easy vegan biryani is both easy, hands-off and delicious It is lemony, nutty, studded with juicy sultanas and with just enough spice to make it interesting without blowing you away.
What you need to make your Vegan Biryani
Basmati rice It is important to use basmati rice for this biryani, so don't be tempted to substitute in any other sort of rice. Basmati behaves in a particular way, absorbs a certain amount of water, which other varieties of rice won't replicate and you will end up with a soggy mess!
Garlic 3 cloves might sound like a lot between 4 people but they are roasted whole in their skins, so turn sweet and fragrant. Go for it!
Garam masala is a blend of spices frequently used in Indian cooking. Mine contains coriander, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, cardamom, pimento, bay leaves, cloves and nutmeg. So using 2tsp of that rather than all those individual jars saves an awful lot of time!
Turmeric gives your vegan biryani its sunny golden yellow colour so don't be tempted to leave it out!
Vegetable stock Always check the labels of stock cubes as so many have some sneaky milk powder in. My favourite is Marigold stock powder (some are vegan and some are not so check), which has a lovely flavour and isn't too salty so you can level out the seasoning yourself.
Ginger The taste of freshly chopped or grated ginger is noticeably fresher than the ready-chopped stuff from a jar. But I use either/or depending on how much of a rush I am in and who I am serving this to, so you can make your own judgement on this one!
Red chilli The big, fat red chillis really don't have much heat to them so you can use a really big one, and even leave in the seeds for a bit more heat.
Flaked almonds Toasting them in the oven before serving makes such a difference. You can see the oils in the flakes bubbling and coming to the surface. releasing their lovely flavours and improving the texture. But do keep an eye on them in the oven - they turn from pale to chargrilled in the blink of an eye.
Variations on your Vegan Biryani
How about using this basic recipe to mix things up, by:
- Making it a meal in itself by adding some protein - a drained and rinsed tin of chickpeas added at the same time as the rice, or even some vegan 'chicken' pieces would be a delicious addition.
- Make it creamier by adding a tin of coconut milk. You need to keep the liquid content at 600ml, so add a 400ml tin coconut milk + 200ml vegetable stock instead of the listed 600ml vegetable stock.
- Make it spicier by swapping the garam masala for 1 tbsp medium to hot curry paste.
How long with my biryani keep in the fridge?
The Food Standards Agency recommends that you keep cooked rice in the fridge for no longer than 24 hours and ensure that it is steaming hot throughout if you reheat it. Do follow their guidance carefully, badly-reheated rice is an unexpectedly frequent cause of food poisoning.
What else can I make with basmati rice?
If you're looking for inspiration for the remainder of that bag of basmati rice, how about trying.....
- My Broad Bean, Fennel and Baby Carrot Pilaff
- Michelle's Christmas Rice from Greedy Gourmet
- Choclette's Brown Basmati Pilaff with barberries & almonds from Tin & Thyme
For more quick and easy vegan recipes take a look at my latest book Vegan in 15.
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Vegan Biryani with lemon and almonds
- 300 g basmati rice
- 2 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 600 ml vegetable stock
- 2 tsp fresh ginger peeled and grated (or ready-chopped ginger from a jar or tube)
- 1 red chilli
- 70 g frozen peas
- 40 g sultanas
- 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp flaked almonds
- small bunch fresh coriander
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5.
- Soak the basmati rice in a bowl of cold water until needed.
- Peel and slice the onion, peel the carrots and potatoes and cut into cubes of roughly 1cm.
- Put the onion, carrot and potato into a large ovenproof casserole dish with the oil, garlic cloves (whole, unpeeled), garam masala and turmeric. Season with salt, toss everything together until fully coated in oil, then roast for 15 minutes.
- In a heatproof jug, mix the vegetable stock, sliced chilli (deseeded if you prefer) and ginger.
- Drain and rinse the basmati rice.
- Remove the roasting vegetables from the oven, and set aside the garlic cloves. Tip the jug of stock and the basmati rice into the casserole dish. Squeeze the flesh from the skins of the garlic cloves. Discard the skins, chop or mash the flesh with a fork, and stir it into the pot. Cover with a tightly fitting lid (or foil if you don't have a lid), and return to the oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, stir the peas and sultanas through the rice. If it is looking a little too dry you can add a splash more water at this stage too. Return it to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
- Scatter the flaked almonds on a baking tray and place in the oven on a low shelf for the last 5 minutes of cooking - they should be just turning golden but not too brown, watch carefully!
- Finely chop the coriander leaves. When the rice has finished cooking, squeeze over the lemon juice, stir through the coriander and scatter with the toasted almonds.
I'm linking this recipe with the CookBlogShare challenge, hosted this week by LostInFood