Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe

Step by StepJump to Recipe

When in India, Shorba might mean a soup with Indian flavors or a gravy that is served with a rice dish like biryani or pulao. This Shorba Recipe is the latter one. Also known as Sherva or Biryani Gravy, it is a spiced, tangy tomato-onion based gravy which goes perfectly with a rich pulao or biryani and brings out the best in them. Yes, the list of ingredients might intimidate you in the beginning. But you don’t really have to do much with them as it is an easy recipe if you just follow the method well. This recipe is also vegan.

shorba gravy served on vegetable pulao on a white plate with a bowl of shorba kept on the right back side and text layovers.

About Shorba

Shorba or Chorba is essentially is an Arabic and Persian term for soups and stews. It can be served as is like a soup or with bread or rice. The word Shorba can also refer to as a gravy.

There are so many variations and ways of making shorba across the Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines.

In India, you will get to see the soupy shorbas like Tomato Shorba and some more made with various veggies. You also find the shorba gravies or stews served with breads or rice based preparations.

The Shorba recipe in this specific post is typically meant for consumption with a main rice dish like biryani or pulao. Hence it is also called Biryani Gravy or Pulao Gravy. You can also pair this tangy gravy with flatbreads.

The consistency of this vegetarian Shorba recipe is also typically thin, more like a gravy or curry, and not a soupy one. If you are looking for a soup on the similar lines, try this hearty and comforting Tomato Soup.

About Biryani Gravy Recipe

I had got a few requests for sharing the recipe of this particular side gravy that is served with biryani. So, I worked on a recipe and posted it on the blog here.

Usually, when I make biryanis at home, Raita is the choice of accompaniment that I prepare with them.

But with certain special biryanis like this Veg Dum Biryani or mainly pulaos, I prepare this Shorba as a side gravy. I feel it is fantastic with pulaos than biryanis.

However, this is just a personal preference, and you can actually opt to make the Shorba or Sherva recipe with whichever rice dish you like.

The main flavors in the Shorba recipe are that of a fine curry paste of spices, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, coconut and mint or coriander leaves used in it, which blend really well with a pulao or biryani.

For the coconut bit, I prefer to use fresh grated coconut. But if you have desiccated coconut and want to use it, feel free to do that.

In this Sherva Recipe of mine, I have used a unique spice – allspice (or kababchini in Hindi). This special spice is also used in the preparation of different kababs and biryanis in Mughlai cuisine.

It is also used in dishes and spice mixes in the Moroccan, Indonesian and even Polish cuisines. However, it is optional and if you can’t source it, just skip it.

This Sherva recipe tastes amazing if you add vegetable stock to it. The day I made this Shorba, I had some veg stock in refrigerator after making Yakhni Pulao. So, I used it in making the Shorba gravy.

It really came out very well. So, if you have homemade stock ready, then I would suggest using it in this recipe. If not, then you can add water.

I have tried this Shorba Recipe both with veg stock and water. With water, the flavors actually change somewhat, but the gravy still tastes good.  

This recipe of Shorba is a slightly spicy version as I usually serve it with the Veg Pulao which is kind of bland in taste. For a less spicy gravy, just reduce the quantity of green chilies and red chili powder.

This is a thin gravy and hence accompanies a veg pulao or veg biryani very well. You can also serve this gravy with a simple peas pulao or potato pulao, or relish it with jeera rice or even plain steamed rice.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Shorba

Make Masala Paste

1. In a grinder or blender jar, take the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chili
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh or desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves or chopped coriander leaves or half-half of both.
roughly chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped green chili, roughly chopped ginger, chopped garlic, grated fresh coconut and chopped mint leaves added to a blender jar for shorba recipe.

2. Blend to a smooth and fine paste, without adding any water. If unable to blend to a smooth paste, then add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons water.

ingredients blended to a smooth paste without adding any water for shorba recipe.

Sauté Spices and Masala Paste

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan.

Add the whole spices:

  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 2 to 3 all-spice/kababchini, optional
  • 1 or 2 single mace strands
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns

If you want, you can even skip the black cardamom. Though, adding black cardamom does give a smoky flavor and aroma to the curry.

whole spices added in hot oil in a pan for making biryani gravy.

4. Sauté till the spices are fragrant.

sautéing spices for shorba recipe.

5. Now, add the prepared paste. Be careful as the mixture splutters.

prepared paste added in the pan to make biryani gravy.

6. Stir and mix very well.

paste mixed well with the whole spices.

7. Then, add ground spices listed below:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (reduce to ¼ teaspoon for a less spicy gravy)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
spice powders added to the paste.

8. Stir the ground spice powders with the rest of the masala paste.

spice powders stirred well in the masala paste.

9. Stir and sauté the masala on low to medium-low heat till you see oil releasing from the sides of the paste.

The mixture will also gather together and leave the sides of the pan.

sautéing spiced masala paste for shorba recipe.

Make Biryani Gravy

10. Then, add 1 to 1.25 cups of Vegetable Stock.

It’s preferable to add vegetable stock. If you do not have veg stock, then add water.

If making for vegetable biryani, you can also parboil/boil the vegetables that will be added to the biryani and then add this vegetable stock to the gravy.

Adjust the quantity of stock according to the consistency you prefer. For a thin gravy, add more stock or water and vice versa.

adding vegetable stock in the pan.

11. Here we have added the entire vegetable stock.

vegetable stock added to the masala paste.

12. Stir and mix very well.

masala paste mixed well in the vegetable stock.

13. Season with salt.

adding salt in the shorba.

14. Stir and simmer the Shorba gravy on low to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or till you see specks of oil on top. Switch off the heat.

simmering shorba or biryani gravy.

15. Garnish with chopped mint leaves or chopped coriander leaves, and serve Shorba with vegetable biryani or vegetable pulao.

shorba gravy garnished with mint leaves and served in a black rimmed ceramic bowl with a plate of vegetable pulao kept in the background.

Expert Tips

  1. For the paste, use desiccated coconut, if you don’t have fresh coconut. You can even add half-half both of mint and coriander leaves.
  2. Make sure to grind the ingredients to a smooth paste without adding any water. If in case you are unable to, then add about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons water and then grind.
  3. The kababchini and black cardamom are optional. You can skip adding these spices.
  4. Reduce the quantity of red chili powder if you want less spicy gravy. If you want it spicier, increase it. You can also increase the quantity of garam masala powder in that case.
  5. For best results, cook the gravy in homemade vegetable stock. If you don’t have it handy, then add water.
  6. If you are making a vegetable biryani with this, then you can boil or parboil the veggies that will be added to the biryani and add this stock to the gravy.

More Curry Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

shorba recipe for biryani, side gravy recipe for biryani and pulao

Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe

Shorba or Sherva also known as Biryani Gravy is a spiced, tangy tomato-onion based gravy which goes perfectly with a rich pulao or biryani and brings out the best in them.
4.75 from 16 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine Hyderabadi
Course Side Dish
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For ground masala paste

  • 150 grams tomatoes or 3 medium tomatoes or 1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes
  • 50 grams onion or 1 medium onion or ⅓ cup chopped onions
  • 1 green chili or 1 teaspoon chopped green chili (hari mirch)
  • 1 inch ginger or 1 teaspoon roughly chopped ginger, peeled
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves – medium-sized or 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coconut – grated and fresn or 2 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon mint leaves – chopped or 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves or half-half of both
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoons water – for blending or grinding, optional

Other ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tejpatta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 1 black cardamom – optional
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 2 to 3 allspice (kababchini) – optional
  • 1 or 2 single and thin mace strands
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder – reduce to ¼ teaspoon for a less spiced gravy
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 1 to 1.25 cups Veg Stock preferred or substitute with 1 cup water
  • salt as required
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or mint leaves – chopped, for garnish

Instructions
 

Making masala paste

  • In a grinder or blender, take the following ingredients – tomatoes, onions, green chillies, chopped ginger and garlic, fresh or desiccated coconut and chopped mint or chopped coriander or half-half of both.
  • Grind without adding any water to a smooth paste. If unable to grind without water, then add upto 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of water.

Making shorba recipe

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the whole spices – tejpatta, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, allspice (optional), mace strands & black peppercorns. 
  • If you want you can even skip the black cardamom. Though adding black cardamom does give its flavor to the curry.
  • On low heat sauté till the spices become aromatic.
  • Now add the ground tomato-onion paste. Be careful as the mixture splutters. Stir and mix very well.
  • Then add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and coriander powder.
  • Stir and mix the spice powders with the rest of the masala paste.
  • Stir and saute the masala till you see oil releasing from the sides of the paste. The mixture will also gather together and leave the sides of the pan.
  • Then add vegetable stock. Its preferable to add veg stock. If you do not have veg stock, then add water.
    If making the shorba for veg biryani, you can also parboil/boil the veggies that will be added to the biryani and then add this vegetable stock to the gravy.
  • Stir and mix very well and then season with salt.
  • Again stir and bring the curry to a simmer on a low to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or till you see specks of oil on top.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve shorba with vegetable biryani or vegetable pulao.

Notes

  • For the masala paste, you can use desiccated coconut, if you don’t have fresh coconut. You can also add half-half both of mint and coriander leaves.
  • The allspice and black cardamom are optional. You can skip adding these spices if you do not have them.
  • Reduce the quantity of red chili powder if you want less spicy gravy. If you want it spicier, increase it. You can also increase the quantity of garam masala powder in that case.
  • For best taste and flavor, cook the Biryani Gravy in homemade vegetable stock. If you don’t have it handy, then you can add water. 
  • Adjust the consistency of the Shorba by adding less or more stock or water according to your preferences. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 138 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Sodium 716mg31%
Potassium 228mg7%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 779IU16%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Vitamin E 4mg27%
Vitamin K 6µg6%
Calcium 40mg4%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 15µg4%
Iron 1mg6%
Magnesium 20mg5%
Phosphorus 35mg4%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Like what you see?

Stay up to date with new recipes and ideas.

This Shorba recipe from the archives, originally published in July 2015 has been updated and republished on January 2023.

Share This Recipe:

PinWhatsAppPrintShares946

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

Get My Secrets to Great Indian Food
Sign up for my FREE Beginners Guide to Delicious Indian Cooking

Comments are closed.

44 Comments

  1. This is soooo perfect! Thank you for all the great recipes you come up with

  2. Hi amit

    This is a really yummy one. Paired it with briyani for potluck. Can u plz post the one which is made up of peanuts
    Thank u5 stars

    1. thankyou pooja hope you had a greta pot luck, have taken your request for peanut shorba on our file.

      1. I forgot to say this.. My 3 yr old daughter when she came out of her room said this “wow it smells so good .come on let’s eat daddy” .

  3. What is the dish called that you show in the pictures here, with the rice , peas, potatoes and looks like green beans? Is there a recipe for it on your site?

    1. thats vegetable pulao or pilaf. i have already shared the recipe of vegetable pulao.

  4. Tried this recipe, was a super hit! Thnx Dassana. Btw, I dont know if I am looking at the wrong page, as the layout of your website has changed, I dont see anymore new recipes after the shorba recipe. Keep up the good work..

    1. welcome priya. yes the home page layout is changed. last recipe posted is shorba recipe only. will post new recipes soon.

  5. This gravy has an inviting look with its rich and creamy texture.Thanks for the step by step recipe

  6. Yumm. While browsing through the pics, I felt as if the aroma from shorba entered my room even 😛 ..

    I am definitely trying this for my non veg biriyani too. I am sure it will be awesome!

  7. Tried poha dosa last Sunday a big hit gonna try shorba very soon keep it up love u

  8. Hi Dassana, I’m very bad at cooking. And I’m trying to work on it. In many of the recipes I’ve noticed them mentioning about grinding without adding any water to a smooth paste.

    Can I know what exactly is the reason behind not adding water while grinding?

    1. when you grind ingredients like onions or tomatoes, you need to add water. the juices in them is enough to grind them. there is no reason as such. only when you grind coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds, spices, then you need to add water.

  9. Hi Dassana, I m big fan of u, for each new recipe I look for ur method of doing, its really amazing. I tried thisShorbha recipe with lil variation, I have put all the spices in grinder with onion n tomatoes, I got lil bitter taste at the end, why is tat?

    1. oh no. you should have not ground the spices. the bitterness is due to one spice. it could be black cardamom or mace. just sauteing them in the oil is right in this recipe.

  10. Hello Dassana, just made a couple of your recipes, kaju katli, tava paneer and tondli bhat. They all turned to be excellent . I was specially nervous about kaju katli but it turned out to be fantastic. Very professional, the only thing missing was the wark which I don’t get here and as my daughter says looks like aluminum foil so did not miss that . Your attention to detail in the recipes is what makes then a winner and the fact that you assume zero knowledge on part of the reader which is good thing so all the steps are explained.

    Would appreciate if you could post some salad recipes, salads which make a meal so maybe include cous cous, quinoa .

    Thanks so much for your amazing website. You are doing great work
    Sorry I posting this comment here instead of the relevant recipes .

    1. thanks a lot anu for this lovely feedback. i will try to add some salads which can be had as a meal. you can post the comment here. no issues.

  11. Hi Dassana,

    Will try this shorba recipe soon. I’m sure it’ll be great. Want to request you to post the recipe of multigrain bread. Have you tried it?

    1. thanks neeti. i did make multi grain breads a couple of times, but some how i did not like the texture. thats why not added the recipe. i need to try a few more times till i get the soft texture and then i will add the recipe.

      1. Okay, thanks a lot! Will wait for the multigrain bread recipe as I know that once you post it, I can follow it with closed eyes (literally!)
        By the way, just finished a yummy meal of foccacia with cream of celery soup. Do I even need to add that both were your recipes? ? You’re the best, Dassana!

        1. thank you girl. but you know in a baking things can go wrong. still thank you again 🙂 a creamy vegetarian soup and any bread for that matter is my favorite combo.

  12. hello mam,
    thanx a ton for adding this recipe..i saw it yesterday only and without wasting time fixed menu biryani with this shorba as sunday dinner and obviously as always ur recipe was huge hit earning me lot of applause and most imp reward neatly finished plate of my kid…thank u5 stars

    1. thanks neha for this lovely feedback and sharing your experience. great 🙂

  13. this is such a wonderful sides. I love this whenever we eat biriyani. will try this.

  14. Hi Dassana,

    I wanted to comment on black-forest cake,but there was no option to add comment to black-forest post. I made whipped cream twice but yesterday, while applying cream on cake cream started to melt. can you please suggest me what to do.

    1. no issues sruthi. was the cake warm when you spread the cream icing. the cake has to be at room temperature or cold (meaning refrigerated for a few hours). did the cream melt as if turning into butter or was it so smooth that is was flowing down the sides of the cake. if it was flowing, then the reason would be that the cream did not whip well. when you turn the bowl or hold the spatula with the whipped cream, it should not fall. there is nothing that can be done, if you have spread the cream on the cake. just refrigerate the cake and the cream will set a bit.

      1. Cake was hot, it was not at room temperature. I will wait till the cake comes to room temperature.

  15. I was always in search of a sider for pulao/biryani other than raita this recipe is perfect. Thanks for this one5 stars

  16. Hello Mam

    Plz do tell how to make anjeer barfi from fruit not from dried fig as i have tree at my home but no one eat that fruit as it is….so i want to make barfi from that…..plz guide…..i am waiting eagrly…….

    1. i have never made anjeer barfi with fresh figs. but since i make barfi often. i can roughly give you the guidelines. rinse and then chop the fresh figs. heat ghee in a pan, add the chopped fresh figs and saute for 4 to 5 minutes on a low flame. then add grated khoya/mawa and sugar. add cardamom powder. stir and saute till the mixture begins to leave sides of the pan. don’t over cook as then the barfi hardens. collect the barfi mixture in a greased tray or plate. smoothen the top. sprinkle some sliced or chopped dry fruits (almonds, pistachios, cashews) from top. press them lightly on the barfi, so that the stick to the barfi. when the barfi cools, slice them. i cannot tell the exact measurements or quantities, as you will have to do it by andaaz. but roughly for 1 cup of chopped figs, you can consider taking 1.5 to 2 cups of grated khoya.