One-pot meals are my favorites, and if they cook up really fast, even better. But what really sweeps me off my feet with this Vegetable Biryani is that it is every bit as rich and luscious as you’d expect a biryani — a dish notorious for requiring long cooking times — to be. Even when you just put in half the work and a fraction of the time.
It takes me under 30 minutes to make this biryani, and that includes cooking time. And I actually prep and chop the vegetables. If you use frozen veggies that are already chopped, I would have just this to say to you: aren’t you the smart one?
For this biryani, forget mise en place or any hoity toity ideas of doing things just so: instead, prep as you go. I heat the oil, add the onions, chop up the rest of the veggies while the onions cook, get the final ingredients ready while the veggies cook, and then all I need to do is lock up the pressure cooker and watch television while the biryani gets done.
Like most people who adore Indian food, I am a huge fan of biryanis. They are indulgent and flavorful and they make any meal extra-special. When made in a pressure cooker, they are also extra-healthy. The pressure cooking preserves valuable nutrients in the food, which would leach away on the stovetop, and it makes all of the vegetables perfectly tender without overcooking them. A huge bonus: you won’t believe the aroma that wafts through every nook and cranny of your home and lingers for hours afterwards, making you want to stuff your mouth full of biryani.
I used a stovetop pressure cooker for this biryani, but if an electric one is what you have, read the instructions at the very end for how to do this in an electric pressure cooker.
Pressure Cooker Vegetable Biryani
- 2 cups rice
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets
- 1 large carrot, cut into one-inch pieces
- 2 large or 3 small potatoes, cut into one-inch chunks
- 1 cup green beans
- 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup fried onions (like French's, or you can also find a version at Indian grocery stores. You can skip these, but a biryani really needs some fried onions for the perfect flavor.)
- 1 tsp black cumin or shah jeera, can substitute with regular cumin if hard to find
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 2-3 dry bay leaves
- 1 star anise
- 2 tsp biryani masala, buy this at the Indian store or online
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- In the stovetop pressure cooker (mine is a 4-quart one), heat the oil.
- Add the black cumin, cloves, cardamom, star anise and bay leaves and saute, stirring, for about a minute over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and saute until they start to change color and turn lightly golden.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute.
- Add the potatoes, then the carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. Mix well and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the fried onions and stir well.
Add the biryani masala and the coconut milk along with the mint and coriander leaves. Mix well.
- Add the water and salt to taste. You need to add enough salt at this time because you won't be able to mix in the salt after the biryani cooks.
- Add the lemon juice and the rice. Mix well.
- Pop on the pressure cooker lid, make sure it's set to pressure-cook (and not to steam), and let it come to pressure. (On my Fagor pressure cooker, there's a little yellow button that pops up when the cooker reaches pressure).
- After pressure is reached, cook for three more minutes, then take the pressure cooker off heat.
- Wait for the pressure to be released, and then slide open the lid carefully. Be sure you follow manufacturer instructions for your cooker.
- Fluff the rice with a spoon and serve hot with some raita.
- *I used a stovetop pressure cooker for this recipe, but if you have an electric one, go ahead and use it. If your cooker has a "brown" function, you can proceed just as directed for the stovetop version, but if not, you will have to do part of your cooking on the stovetop-- up until the step where the vegetables are sauteed and cooked and the fried onions are stirred in. Then transfer the veggies to the electric cooker, add the biryani masala, coconut milk, lemon, rice, and salt. Set your pressure cooker timer to five minutes or as directed by your manufacturer.