Go Back
+ servings
Overhead shot of a bowl of keema biryani, an Indian rice dish with ground meatless meat and spices, in a glazed bowl with a spoon, lemons and sliced onions
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Vegan Keema Biryani

My meatless version of an Indian Keema Biryani stays true to tradition and taste, but it's so easy to make, you could even pull it off for a weeknight dinner! A vegan, soy-free, nut-free and gluten-free recipe.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: gluten-free, Indian, Indian veg recipes, nut-free, Soy-free, Vegan
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 441kcal


For the rice:

  • 2 cups basmati rice (place the rice in a bowl and cover with an inch of water and let it stand 30 minutes. Drain the water and wash the rice thoroughly in 2-3 changes of water or in a colander under running water)
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • Salt to taste

For the biryani masala:


  • To make the rice, place 3 cups of water in a microwave safe bowl with the drained and washed rice, the cloves, cardamom, and enough salt to flavor the rice to your liking. Remember, you can't add salt to the rice after it's cooked, so best to add enough now.
    Zap the rice in the microwave for 8 minutes. It should be about 80 percent done.
    You can make the rice on the stovetop, like you'd cook pasta, until it reaches the desired doneness. Drain the rice and set aside.
  • Place the ground meat in a bowl, add the yogurt, 1 tbsp of the biryani masala, 1 tsp garam masala, the ginger garlic paste, cayenne, turmeric and lemon juice. Add half the mint and coriander leaves, reserving the rest for later.
    Mix well and set aside. You can do this ahead, if you like. If you make it a day earlier, cover and keep the bowl in a refrigerator. The longer the ground meat stands in the marinade, the more flavor it will absorb.
  • Mix the saffron strands in a small bowl with the nondairy milk and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the shah jeera or cumin, cardamom pods, cloves and bay leaves. Quickly stir-fry them for about 30 seconds to a minute over medium heat until they begin to change color.
    Add the kasoori methi, remaining cilantro and mint, and half the fried onions. Add the remaining garam masala and biryani masala powders and stir them in, then add the meatless meat along with all of the marinade.
    Add a quarter cup of water to the bowl that the meat was in, swirl to get any remaining marinade, and add to the pot.
    Add salt. Mix everything well and let it come to a boil.
  • Turn the heat to low or turn it off completely. Pour the cooked rice on top of the masala and spread it into an even layer with a ladle.
  • Sprinkle on the remaining onions and, if you have some, a few mint leaves are nice too. Splash on the milk with the saffron strands. At this point, adding a few dots of vegan butter to the rice helps keep it really moist--I'd use no more than a tablespoon -- but that's completely optional.
  • Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Turn the heat to medium-high (more on the high side) and let the biryani cook five minutes. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and let it cook another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Don't take the lid off at any point during cooking, and let the biryani stand at least 10 minutes, undisturbed, before you take the lid off. Serve.


Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Potassium: 146mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 185IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg