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Vegetable biryani with tofu cubes, onions, limes and biryani masala in a steel karahi bowl with a spoon and fork.
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5 from 10 votes

Vegetable Biryani

A delicious, aromatic vegetable biryani is the ultimate Indian comfort food. But if you're intimidated by the thought of spending a long time making it, I have the perfect recipe for you: an easy, tasty, restaurant-style Vegetable Biryani that, with some clever multitasking, is ready in under 30 minutes. Best of all, at 194 calories a serving, you can afford to indulge.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time19 mins
Resting time10 mins
Total Time29 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Vegetable Biryani
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 194kcal


  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice (washed in running water)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoon caraway seeds (shahjeera). You can sub this with cumin seeds but try to use it if possible. It adds great flavor to biryanis.
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium carrots (finely diced -- you want the pieces to be fairly small, about ½-inch square, to cook fast)
  • 2 medium potatoes (finely diced)
  • 2 heaping tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro or coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoon fresh dill leaves (optional, but nice)
  • 1 ½ cups vegan yogurt
  • 2 heaping tbsp biryani masala
  • ½ cup raw cashew pieces (optional)
  • 12-14 oz baked tofu or super firm tofu (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 cup fried onions (use storebought kind like French's, or the kind you get at the Indian store, or make yourself. Use this, no matter how "healthy" you're feeling. It is important for a true biryani)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste


  • Place 2 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl along with three green cardamom pods, three cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and half the caraway seeds. Add salt to your taste. Add the rice to the bowl and microwave for eight minutes. Let the rice stand in the microwave until ready to use.
  • After putting the rice in the microwave, chop your veggies, and simultaneously heat the oil in a large saucepan with an airtight lid. When the oil is hot, add the remaining green cardamom pods and cloves, brown cardamom pods and the remaining caraway seeds.
  • Let the spices cook in the oil for a minute, then add the chopped carrots and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and then cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until the veggies are almost tender. If the veggies are sticking to the pan at this time, add ¼ cup of water or vegetable stock and scrape up any bits.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste, cilantro, mint and dill and stir to mix. Add the biryani masala, cashews if using, half the fried onions, tofu cubes and yogurt and stir well. Check if there's enough salt and add more if needed. Bring the masala to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and bring the rice out of the microwave. Run a fork through it to loosen the grains. The rice should be almost done when you take it out, but not quite. Spread it evenly on top of the veggies and masala in the pot.
  • Sprinkle the remaining fried onions on top of the rice. Cover with the airtight lid and let the biryani cook over low heat for 10 minutes, undisturbed. Let the biryani stand 10 minutes after cooking is done before opening to serve.



  • If you don't have a microwave, or would rather not use it, you can make the rice on the stove top. Bring the water to a boil with the spices and salt, add the washed rice, cover and cook for eight minutes or until about 80 percent done.
  •  A true biryani doesn't contain the usual Indian staples like tomatoes and turmeric. While some Indian cooks will use turmeric to marinate non-veg ingredients like chicken for chicken biryani, you don't need to do that here. If you want to add color to your biryani, use saffron. Just a few strands soaked in nondairy milk and sprinkled over the rice before you put on the lid are enough. And tomatoes...they just don't taste right in a biryani, so stay away from them.
  • Coconut milk is also a no-no in biryanis. Although Hyderabad, famous for its biryanis, is in the south, and south Indian recipes often include coconut, it is never used in a biryani and it'll just mess up the flavors.
  • Use vegetables that cook fast. I used carrots and potatoes. Cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, green beans and most kinds of squashes are great and will work just as well. But try to veer away from veggies that would not cook as fast or just be weird in here, like broccoli or Brussels sprouts or cabbage or eggplant.
  • The vegan yogurt is really important for the moisture and flavor in this recipe, so be sure to use it.
  • You can take an hour to make this biryani, but if you want to make it in 30 minutes, you will have to follow my exact directions. If you're a novice cook, you probably will need more time, unless you can chop and prep real fast.
  • If you want to make this recipe nut-free, do not add the cashews. And make sure you use a nut-free yogurt. For a soy-free biryani, leave out the tofu.


Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.4g | Protein: 7.9g | Fat: 4.3g | Potassium: 260mg | Fiber: 3.4g | Sugar: 2.5g | Vitamin A: 750IU | Vitamin C: 7.4mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 2.3mg