Kolkata Biryani

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Veg Kolkata biryani with step by step photos – a light and flavourful version of Kolkata biryani made with mix vegetables, basmati rice, aromatics and ghee. Makes for a delicious, filling and comforting meal paired with raita or yogurt.

Kolkata biryani served in a white plate

I prepare this Kolkata biryani on occasions and so I thought of sharing the recipe too. Initially, when I had made for the first time a couple of years back, I had adapted the recipe from some cookbooks, but later on, I did make some more changes and the result is a very good biryani recipe.

This Kolkata biryani uses ground biryani masala powder. initially, I would prepare freshly ground biryani masala powder while making the recipe. But this time since I had homemade biryani masala powder, I have used it.

But if you do not have biryani masala, then I have mentioned the spices used for freshly ground biryani masala in both the recipe card and step by step pics below.

Kolkata biryani is derived from the Lucknowi biryani and different from the Hyderabadi veg biryani or South Indian versions of biryanis. This version is mildly spiced and light.

I prepare this Kolkata biryani both with ghee and mustard oil on different occasions. Of course, ghee gives a nice light subtle flavor.

With mustard oil the flavors become robust. The punch and flavor of the mustard oil is felt without subduing the other subtle flavors of the spices and the other ingredients. Talk about balance and it is there in this dish. The best part is that the potatoes soak the flavors of the mustard oil too well and taste great.

Since we do like mustard oil, on occasions I make the Kolkata biryani with mustard oil. So in conclusion, I would say, if you like mustard oil, then use it. If you prefer ghee over mustard oil, then use ghee. If using mustard oil, then do top some ghee on the rice while layering. In the recipe you can also add some dried plums if you have them.

Usually potatoes are fried in oil or ghee, but I have just sautéed them for some minutes while preparing the gravy.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Kolkata Biryani

Cooking rice for biryani

1. Rinse 1.5 cups basmati rice till the grains runs clear of starch. Then soak basmati rice for 30 minutes. Later drain all the water from the rice and set aside.

soaked rice in bowl

2. In a pan take 5 cups of water. Also add the following ingredients after you add the water to the pan:

  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
  • ½ teaspoon ghee (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt or add as required

Check the taste of the water and it should feel slightly salty. Then boil the water with the spices and ghee on medium to high heat.

water with spices and ghee getting heated

3. Then add the soaked rice.

rice added

4. Simmer on a medium to high heat without a lid till the rice is ¾th cooked.

simmering rice

5. The rice grains should have a bite in the center and must not be cooked fully.

almost cooked rice grains

6. Strain the rice and keep it aside. Let the steam pass and then cover with a lid and keep aside.

strain the rice

Some more prepping:

7. In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk ½ cup fresh yogurt (curd) till smooth. Keep aside.

whisking the curd in a bowl

8. In another bowl, take ¼ cup of warm milk or water and add 10 to 12 saffron strands in it.

saffron added to warm milk

9. Then add 1 teaspoon rose water and 1 teaspoon kewra water. Mix very well and keep aside. If using biryani ittar or biryani essence, then just add 1 to 2 drops of it.

Also slice onions thinly and chop the veggies.

kewra water added to saffron milk mixture

Making veg gravy for Kolkata biryani

10. In a 3 liter pressure cooker heat 3 tablespoons ghee.

If using mustard oil, then heat the mustard oil, till it starts to smoke. Then add the tej patta (Indian bay leaf) and onions together (step 11 and 12).

heating ghee in pressure cooker

11. When the ghee becomes hot, lower the heat. Add 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf).

tej patta added

12. Then add 1 cup thinly sliced onions.

onions added

13. Begin to saute the onions on low to medium heat stirring often.

sauteing onions

14. Onions take some time to cook. So add a pinch of salt to quicken the process of cooking onions.

salt added while sauteing onions

15. First the onions will turn light brown.

sauteing onions

16. Continue to stir often and saute till the onions turn golden.

sauteed onions turned golden

17. Quickly remove half of the onions and keep aside.

half of sauteed onions kept aside

18. Then add 1.5 to 1.75 cups of chopped potatoes.

potatoes added too pressure cooker

19. Saute potatoes on low to medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes stirring often.

sauteing potatoes

20. Then add ½ cup chopped carrots, ½ cup green peas and 1.5 cups chopped cauliflower florets.

Other vegetables that you can include are capsicum, french beans, baby corn and broccoli. You can also add unripe jackfruit and button mushrooms.

vegetables added

21. Add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. Mix everything very well and saute for a minute on low to medium heat.

ginger garlic paste added

22. Then add ½ teaspoon red chili powder and 2 teaspoons biryani masala. I have used homemade biryani masala.

If you do not have biryani masala, then powder the following spices in a small grinder or a coffee grinder till fine – 2 green cardamoms + 1 inch cinnamon + a strand of mace + 1 black cardamom + ½ tsp caraway seeds + 4 to 5 black peppercorns + 1 all spice/kababchini – powdered finely in a dry grinder. Skip allspice if you do not have it.

biryani masala added

23. Mix the biryani masala very well with the veggies.

biryani masala mixed with vegetables

24. Keep the heat to a low and then add the beaten yogurt (curd). Stir briskly.

beaten curd added

25. Add ⅔ cup of water.

water added

26. Season with salt as per taste.

salt added

27. Stir very well and pressure cook for 8 to 9 minutes or about 2 whistles. You can also cook the gravy in a pan and then cover and simmer the veggies till they are cooked.

If the curry looks dry, then add some water and if it is too thin, then cook for some time. If cooking in a pan, then you can add ¾ to 1 cup water. Cover the pan and simmer till the veggies are cooked and tender.

pressure cooking veg gravy

Assembling and layering Kolkata biryani

28. Now take half a portion of the gravy in a thick bottomed pan or if you want you can layer in the cooker itself.

veg gravy layer

29. Add the cooked rice.

rice added to veg gravy layer

30. Top with half of the fried onions all over.

fried onions added on top of rice layer

31. Then sprinkle with half of the saffron + kewra water + rose water + milk mixture.

half of the saffron + kewra water + rose water + milk mixture added

32. Dot with some ghee.

dotting with ghee

33. Layer with the remaining of the mix veg gravy. Then layer with the remaining rice.

remaining mix veg gravy and rice added

34. Repeat layering with fried onions, saffron milk and dotting with ghee.

Repeat layering with fried onions, saffron milk and dotting with ghee

Dum cooking or baking Kolkata biryani

35. Tightly seal the pan with an aluminum foil.

sealing the pan with an aluminum foil.

36. Cover the pan with its lid. Place the pan on a tawa or griddle. Keep the heat to low and dum cook biryani for 30 to 35 minutes.

If baking Kolkata biryani then preheat oven at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes at 180 degrees celsius. Use an ovenproof pan if baking in an oven.

dum cooking Kolkata biryani

37. Once done, switch off the heat. Let the Kolkata biryani rest for 5 to 7 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Then open the lid and the foil. If you see some gravy or a watery consistency at the bottom, then dum cook the biryani for some more minutes.

prepared Kolkata biryani in a pan

38. Serve Kolkata biryani hot or warm with raita and onion lemon salad. You can also pair it with plain yogurt or vegetarian shorba gravy.

The leftovers can be refrigerated for a day. Reheat biryani in a pan or steam it for a few minutes in the Instant pot or a stovetop pressure cooker.

Kolkata biryani served in a white plate

More biryani varieties

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kolkata veg biryani recipe

Kolkata Biryani

This veg Kolkata biryani is a light and flavourful version of biryani from the Bengali cuisine made with healthy mix vegetables, fragrant basmati rice, aromatics and ghee.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cuisine Bengali
Course Main Course
Diet Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

for cooking rice

  • 1.5 cups basmati rice or 315 grams basmati rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahjeera) – optional
  • ½ teaspoon Ghee – optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt or add as required

for veg gravy

  • 3 medium onions – sliced thinly or 156 grams onions or 1 cup tightly packed thinly sliced onions
  • ½ cup shelled peas – fresh or frozen
  • 1 small to medium carrot – peeled chopped or 70 grams carrots or ½ cup chopped carrots
  • 3 medium potatoes or 2 large potatoes – peeled and chopped or 279 grams potatoes or 1.5 to 1.75 cups chopped potatoes
  • 135 grams cauliflower or 1.5 cups chopped medium florets
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ cup Curd (yogurt) – whisked till smooth
  • 3 tablespoons Ghee – you can also use mustard oil
  • 2 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste or 1 inch ginger + 4 to 5 medium sized garlic (made into a paste in a mortar-pestle)
  • 1 tej patta (indian bay leaf)
  • cup water for pressure cooking
  • salt as required

Spices to be powdered (sub 2 teaspoons biryani masala powder instead)

  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 1 single strand mace
  • 1 black cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shah jeera)
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 allspice (kababchini)

for layering kolkata biryani

  • ¼ cup warm milk or water
  • 10 to 12 strands of saffron
  • 2 teaspoons rose water or a few rose petals
  • 1 teaspoon kewra water
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee

Instructions
 

cooking rice

  • Rinse 1.5 cups basmati rice till the grains runs clear of starch. Then soak basmati rice for 30 mins. Later drain the rice.
  • Boil 5 cups water on a medium to high flame with 2 green cardamoms, 1 inch cinnamon, 2 to 3 cloves, ½ tsp caraway seeds, ½ tsp ghee (optional) and ½ salt or add as required. Check the taste of the water and it should feel slightly salty.
  • Then add the rice.
  • Simmer on a medium to high flame without a lid till the rice is ¾th done.
  • The rice grains should have a bite in the centre and must not be cooked fully.
  • Strain the rice and keep aside. Let the steam pass and then cover and keep aside.

soaking saffron and prepping

  • In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk ½ cup yogurt till smooth. Keep aside.
  • In another bowl, take ¼ cup warm milk or water and add 10 to 12 saffron strands in it.
  • Then add 1 teaspoon rose water and 1 teaspoon kewra water. Mix very well and keep aside. If using biryani ittar or biryani essence, then just add 1 to 2 drops of it.
  • Thinly slice the onions. Chop all the veggies and keep aside. 

making veg gravy for kolkata biryani

  • In a pressure cooker heat 3 tablespoons ghee.
  • When the ghee becomes hot, lower the flame. Add 1 tej pasta and stir. 
  • Then add 1 cup thinly sliced onions.
  • Saute the onions on a low to medium flame stirring often till they turn golden.
  • Quickly remove half of the fried onions and keep aside.
  • Then add 1.5 to 1.75 cups chopped potatoes.
  • Saute potatoes on a low to medium-low flame for 2 to 3 minutes on a low flame.
  • Then add ½ cup chopped carrots, ½ cup green peas and 1.5 cups chopped cauliflower florets.
  • Add 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste. Mix everything very well and saute for a minute.
  • Then add ½ teaspoon red chili powder and 2 teaspoons biryani masala. I have used homemade biryani masala. If you do not have biryani masala, then powder the following spices in a small grinder or a coffee grinder till fine – 2 green cardamoms + 1 inch cinnamon + a single strand of mace + 1 black cardamom + ½ tsp caraway seeds + 4 to 5 black peppercorns + 1 all spice/kababchini- all powdered finely.
  • Mix the biryani masala very well with the veggies.
  • Then add the beaten curd. Mix again.
  • Add ⅔ cup water.
  • Season with salt as per taste. Stir very well and pressure cook for 8 to 9 minutes or about 2 whistles. You can also cook the gravy in a pan and then cover and simmer the veggies till they are cooked. If the curry looks dry, then add some water and if its too thin, then cook for some time.

assembling and layering kolkata biryani

  • Now take half a portion of the gravy in a thick bottomed pan or if you want you can layer in the cooker itself.
  • Add the rice.
  • Top with half of the fried onions all over.
  • Then sprinkle with half of the saffron + kewra water + rose water + milk mixture.
  • Dot with some ghee.
  • Layer with the remaining of the mix veg gravy. Then layer with the remaining rice.
  • Repeat layering with fried onions, saffron milk and dotting with ghee.
  • Tightly seal the pan with an aluminium foil.

dum cooking kolkata biryani on stovetop or oven

  • Cover the pan with its lid. Place the pan on a tawa or griddle. Keep the flame to a low and dum cook for 30 to 35 minutes. If baking kolkata biryani, then preheat oven at 180 degrees celsius for 10 minutes. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.
  • Once done, switch off the flame. Let the kolkata biryani rest for 5 to 7 minutes at room temperature before serving. Then open the lid and the foil. If you see some gravy at the bottom, then dum cook for some more minutes.
  • Serve kolkata biryani with raita and pyaaz ka lachcha. 

Notes

  • You can add your choice of veggies. Other veggies you can add are broccoli, capsicum, french beans, baby corn. You can also add button mushrooms and unripe jackfruit.
  • Skip kewra water if you do not have it. Instead just add 2 teaspoons rose water. You can also add some dried rose petals instead of rose water.
  • If you do not have biryani masala powder, then powder the following spices in a small grinder or a coffee grinder till fine – 2 green cardamoms + 1 inch cinnamon + a strand of mace + 1 black cardamom + ½ tsp caraway seeds + 4 to 5 black peppercorns + 1 all spice/kababchini – powdered finely in a dry grinder. Skip allspice if you do not have it.
  • If using mustard oil, then heat it till it begins to smoke and then add tej pasta and onions together.
  • You can use dried plums if you have them.
  • The recipe can’t be scaled as it is. You need to eyeball the ingredients and use the method of approximation when scaling the recipe.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Kolkata Biryani
Amount Per Serving
Calories 353 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 42mg14%
Sodium 646mg28%
Potassium 1065mg30%
Carbohydrates 47g16%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 7g14%
Vitamin A 2803IU56%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 3mg15%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin C 63mg76%
Vitamin D 1µg7%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 16µg15%
Calcium 120mg12%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 77µg19%
Iron 3mg17%
Magnesium 73mg18%
Phosphorus 179mg18%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Kolkata Biryani post from the archives first published in December 2016 has been republished and updated on 26 June 2022.

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4 Comments

  1. Dassana, you maintain and excellent website with great recipes, but would be so much more useful if readers could copy/paste and save the information on a particular recipe for the time when they will prepare the recipe. Thank you for your excellent work.5 stars

    1. thanks nandini. i have removed the copy paste option as i have been a victim of plagiarism and content theft many times. usually websites which copy and lift pics, do not have any contact or social media, where you can message them. so one has to just helplessly see all your hard work getting copied.

      whenever i have removed the copy paste option as a few readers have complained, then at the same there is an increase in the copying that happens. i come to know about this through the wordpress option where the people copying are so lazy even to remove the links. then these links point to my website from theirs. just recently i had removed the copy paste for some days and again i see copying happening. there is this very popular site also which was copying paragraphs & recipes blindly from mine as well as other websites. so to avoid this i have no option but to disable the copy paste option.