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5 from 3 votes

Quinoa Biryani

This fluffy, delicious and healthy vegan quinoa biryani with chickpeas and spices has all of the flavor of a regular biryani but it is packed with nutrition.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main dish
Cuisine: Indian fusion, nut-free, Soy-free, Vegan
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Quinoa Biryani
Servings: 10
Calories: 229kcal


For the quinoa "rice"

  • 1 ½ cups quinoa (rinsed thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer)
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves
  • Salt to taste

For the kala chana biryani sauce

  • 1 cup kala chana (cooked)
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1- inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp shahjeera (black cumin)
  • 1 large onion , very finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic (crushed and minced)
  • 1-inch knob ginger (finely grated)
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp biryani masala (my recipe linked, but biryani masala is also available online or at any Indian store)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup vegan yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup fried onions (you can buy these in a packet at any Indian store. Fried onions might appear dispensable, especially to the health-conscious, but make the effort: they add a certain flavor to biryani that you cannot replicate with another ingredient. And since this biryani makes at least eight servings, they don't add many calories in a single serving).
  • ¼ cup cilantro (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup mint (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


  • To make the quinoa rice, place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and let the quinoa cook until it has absorbed most of the water.
  • Lower the heat to low, slap on a tight-fitting lid, and let it cook another 10 minutes. Let the quinoa stand while you prepare the rest of the biryani.
  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot.
  • Add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the shahjeera, stir, and then add the onions.
  • Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are browning at the edges.
  • Add the ginger and garlic, stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the turmeric powder, biryani masala, and coriander seed powder. Stir again to coat the spices with the oil, and then add the tomato puree.
  • Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, and then half of the fried onions, vegan yogurt and lemon. Add the mint and coriander leaves. Stir.
  • Add the drained, cooked kala chana. Stir together and let it all come to a boil. If the mixture is too dry, add some of the stock from boiling the kala chana. You want a thick gravy.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Now fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork so the grains separate. Pour over the kala chana masala in an even layer, using a ladle to help spread it evenly.
  • Sprinkle the quinoa with the remaining fried onions. Put on a tight-fitting lid and cook over a low flame for 15 minutes.
  • Let the biryani stand at least 15 minutes before serving. While serving, make sure you dig all the way to the bottom of the pot with the ladle to get a good mix of the quinoa and the masala.


Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Potassium: 428mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 202IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 3mg