Vegetable Biryani (Restaurant Style)

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None of us, especially we Indians, can even have enough of a biryani. Biryani is my most favorite rice-based dish. Even if I have to have biryani every day, I won’t mind it at all. So, here’s my chosen recipe of a Restaurant Style Vegetable Biryani that will help you dish out a vegetarian biryani, elaborately at home. Just follow the steps well, and you won’t have any problems in making a lovely hearty biryani at home. The process is a bit lengthy and takes efforts, but the end result is absolutely worth that time.

vegetable biryani served in a ceramic yellow handi with a bowl of raita on the side.

Why This Vegetable Biryani Is A Winner

This restaurant style Vegetable Biryani was first posted more than a decade back. That time, I would always make the Hyderabadi Veg Biryani or my mom’s version of the biryani at home. But since the time I’ve started making this particular recipe too, I haven’t stopped.

Usually in most restaurants, they do not make biryanis the way it is traditionally made, that is assembling the rice and gravy layers and cooking these in a tightly sealed pot. The vegetable gravy is prepped ahead and then lightly mixed with seasoned basmati rice and served.

But some restaurants do serve the real traditional biryani. This particular recipe has similar tastes and flavors with the biryanis served in such restaurants where authentic conventional food is served.

I have experimented and tried many variations of a Vegetable Biryani. After I came across this recipe in Nita Mehta’s cookbook, ‘Taste of Amritsar – Vegetarian,’ I gave it a try and loosely adapted the recipe to suit our taste buds. What I liked in the recipe was the use of freshly ground biryani masala.

Also, there were no tomatoes, chilies or turmeric in this version. Three ingredients that I always end up using in my cooking. I was of the thought process that a biryani without the inclusion of these three ingredients is not possible. But I had an incorrect assumption and this recipe proved it wrong.

One of the most delicious biryanis I’ve made is this truly restaurant-style version. The vegetable gravy isn’t as moist as homemade biryanis tend to be, but rather slightly dry like what you’d find in restaurants. Additionally, this biryani isn’t very spicy; instead, it carries a gentle touch of sweetness.

The flavors of the freshly ground biryani masala as well as the caramelized/browned onions are a hallmark of this Vegetable Biryani and bring out the best in the whole dish. Yes, birista or caramelized browned onions is used in this recipe.

More On The Recipe

By now, I have made this Vegetable Biryani many times. I’ve tried the recipe with both dairy curd (yogurt) as well as a plant-based one like cashew yogurt.

When made with cashew yogurt, no one, including me, could make out the difference that whether a regular dairy or plant based yogurt was used in the dish.

Like I said in the beginning, it is a long process of making the restaurant-style biryani but worth it. Apart from a few, rest of the ingredients are simple and easily available in the kitchen.

For saffron substitute, you can add a pinch of turmeric in some milk or water and then add it on the rice layers.

I cannot imagine my food without green chilies or red chili powder. So, I had to add a little red chili powder in this Vegetable Biryani too.

This biryani with veggies and made with freshly ground masala tastes awesome and I had to share it with all of you. I usually serve this biryani with a fresh onion tomato raita.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Restaurant Style Vegetable Biryani

Preparation

1. Rinse 1½ cups (200 grams) basmati rice very well in water. Soak the rice in enough water for 30 minutes. When the rice is soaking, chop all the vegetables and keep aside.

rice being soaked in water in a bowl.

2. Prepare the biryani masala. For it, the spices that we use are – 1 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 4 green cardamoms and a single strand of mace (not the whole mace as it is a strong spice).

whole spices in a white plate.

3. Add these in a small grinder or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Keep aside.

whole spices ground to a powder for veg biryani.

4. After 30 minutes, drain all the water from the rice and set the soaked rice aside.

strained rice in a bowl.

Prepare Rice

5. Heat 5 cups water. When hot, add 3 to 4 green cardamoms, 1 inch cinnamon, 1 medium tej patta (Indian bay leaf), 2 star anise and 1 black cardamom.

whole spices added to hot water in a pan.

6. On high heat, bring the water to a boil. Then, add the rice. Also, add ¾ teaspoon salt or as per taste.

adding rice to hot water with spices in it.

7. Cook the rice on high heat till it is 75% cooked.

cooking rice with spiced water.

8. There should be some bite in the rice.

basmati rice parcooked on a fork in the pan.

9. Drain all the water from the rice thoroughly in a colander. Set aside. You can also check how to cook Basmati Rice For Biryani.

strained cooked rice in a strainer.

10. Whisk 1 cup fresh curd or yogurt (200 grams) until smooth. Set aside.

whisking curd or yogurt.

Fry Onions

11. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons oil or ghee in a pan. Add 2 cups thinly sliced onions.

thinly sliced onions added to hot oil in a pan.

12. Stir and sauté the onions on medium-low to medium heat.

sautéing onions.

13. Sauté the onions, with frequent stirring, till they turn golden brown.

onions becoming golden in pan while sautéing.

14. Keep heat to low, then, remove ¼ cup fried onions from this and set aside.

portion of caramelized onions on a plate.

Make Vegetable Mixture

15. Then, add 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste to the fried onions in the pan. Stir and sauté until the raw aroma of ginger-garlic fades away.

ginger-garlic paste added to golden caramelized onions in the pan.

16. Then, add the prepared biryani masala. Stir and mix on low heat.

adding prepared biryani masala to the pan.

17. Add the chopped vegetables including the green peas.

vegetables added to pan.

18. Stir and mix very well.

vegetables mixed well with browned onions.

Make Vegetable Gravy

19. Then, add the whisked curd.

whisked curd added to vegetable mixture.

20. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder.

red chili powder added to vegetable mixture.

21. Stir the gravy mixture very well.

ingredients mixed well in pan.

22. Add ½ cup of water.

adding water to vegetable gravy.

23. Add salt as per taste.

adding salt to vegetable gravy.

24. Pressure cook on medium heat for 1 whistle. If cooking in a pot, then cook till the vegetables are fork tender and done. Don’t over cook. 

When the pressure settles down and drops naturally in the cooker, remove the lid and check the gravy. If vegetables are undercooked, keep the cooker on the stovetop and simmer the gravy without the lid till the vegetables are tender.

If there is too much water in the gravy, simmer till some water dries up. The gravy should have a medium-thick or slightly thick consistency and should not be very watery or runny.

cooked vegetable gravy for biryani.

Assemble Vegetable Biryani

25. In a small bowl, take 2 tablespoons warm milk. Add a few saffron strands and mix well. Keep aside for 10 to 15 minutes.

saffron strands mixed with milk in small glass bowl.

26. In another thick-bottomed pan, add half of the prepared vegetable gravy.

half of the cooked vegetable gravy added to another pan.

27. Layer with half of the rice.

half of cooked rice added on vegetable gravy in pan.

28. Sprinkle half of the fried onions along with chopped mint leaves. Also, add half of the saffron dissolved milk. Top with 1 tablespoon oil or butter or ghee on this layer.

half of the fried onions, chopped mint leaves and some prepared saffron milk added on rice layer.

29. Layer with the rest of the vegetable gravy.

remaining vegetable gravy added on rice.

30. Lastly, add the remaining fried onions, chopped mint leaves and saffron milk. Top with 1 tablespoon oil or butter or ghee on this layer.

remaining fried onions, mint leaves and saffron milk added on rice layer.

Cook Biryani

31. Cover the pan with a damp muslin or cotton cloth. You can also seal and secure the pan with aluminum foil.

If using a damp or wet cotton napkin, bring together the edges on top of the lid and stick it on the lid. Since the cloth is wet it clings onto the lid.

pan covered with damp muslin cloth.

32. Place a lid on top.

pan's lid placed tightly on cloth.

33. Now, place the pan on a hot tawa or griddle. Cook the biryani on low heat for 25 to 30 minutes or until all the liquids have been absorbed and the rice grains look more fluffier and tender.

The tawa should be heated for 4 to 5 minutes on low to medium flame before you place the pan on it.

Remember to allow a resting time of 5 to 7 minutes after you turn off the heat.

Baking: Bake the biryani at 180 degrees C/356 degrees F in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remember to use an ovenproof glass utensil like Pyrex bowl for baking in the oven. Assemble the biryani as mentioned above in the ovenproof utensil. Cover with aluminum foil or the Pyrex bowl’s lid and then bake.

cooked vegetable biryani.

34.  Serve Restaurant Style Vegetable Biryani with your favorite raita or biryani shorba or mirchi ka salan and with sliced onions and lemon wedges.

overhead shot of vegetable biryani served in a ceramic yellow pot with a bowl of raita on the side.

Expert Tips

  1. Use aged basmati rice for the best cooked rice texture in the biryani – tender, longer, non-sticky and fluffier.
  2. For a plant based version, make the vegetable gravy with cashew yogurt and a neutral tasting oil.
  3. Add your choice of vegetables or mushrooms. For softer vegetables like brinjals, capsicum, zucchini or other gourds, I suggest to cook the vegetable gravy in a pot or a pan and not in a pressure cooker.
  4. You could also make this recipe with unripe jackfruit.
  5. Remember to parcook the rice. There should be some bite in the rice. Do not cook the rice grains all the way through. Doing so would make your biryani a mush.
  6. The vegetable gravy should have a medium-thick to thick consistency. A watery or runny consistency will make the rice get overcooked and pasty.

    More Biryani Recipes To Try!

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    vegetable biryani in a yellow ceramic handi or pot.

    Vegetable Biryani (Restaurant Style)

    This Vegetable Biryani is a fragrant, lightly spiced restaurant style biryani made with freshly ground biryani masala, caramelized onions, mixed vegetables, yogurt, spices and herbs. Simply follow the steps well, and you won’t have any problems in making a lovely hearty biryani at home.
    5 from 1 vote
    Prep Time 45 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
    Cuisine Indian, North Indian
    Course Main Course
    Diet Gluten Free, Vegetarian
    Difficulty Level Moderate
    Servings 4
    Units

    Ingredients

    For rice layer

    • 1.5 cups basmati rice – 300 grams
    • 3 to 4 green cardamoms
    • 1 inch cinnamon
    • 1 tej patta – medium size, (Indian bay leaf)
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 black cardamom
    • 5 cups water – for cooking rice
    • ¾ teaspoon salt or add as required

    For vegetable gravy layer

    • 2 cups onions – thinly sliced, 200 grams or 2 large onions
    • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste or 1 inch ginger + 7 to 8 small to medium garlic cloves crushed in mortar-pestle
    • 2 carrots – chopped, medium-sized
    • 1 potato – chopped, medium-sized
    • ½ cup cauliflower florets – optional, I have not added cauliflower
    • 4 to 5 button mushrooms – chopped
    • ¼ cup french beans – chopped
    • ½ cup green peas – fresh or frozen
    • 1 cup Curd – fresh (yogurt) or 200 grams
    • ½ cup water – for pressure cooking and ¾ cup water if cooking in a pot
    • ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil or ghee – I used sunflower oil
    • salt as required

    For biryani masala

    • 1 inch cinnamon stick
    • 4 cloves
    • 4 green cardamoms
    • 1 single strand of mace (javitri), (not the whole mace. mace is a strong spice)

    Topping the layers

    • ¼ cup sautéed browned onions (birista)
    • 15 to 20 saffron strands
    • 2 tablespoons milk – warm
    • ¼ cup mint leaves – chopped
    • 2 tablespoons oil or butter or ghee (clarified butter)

    Instructions
     

    Cooking rice

    • Rinse the rice very well in water till it runs clear of starch. Then soak the rice for 30 minutes in enough water. After 30 minutes strain the rice using a colander or a fine strainer.
    • Heat water first in a deep bottomed pan. Add all the whole spices – green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom, star anise, tej patta and strand of mace.
    • Cook the rice till the grains are 75% cooked. They should have a slight bite to them.
    • Drain all the water from the rice in a colander thoroughly and keep aside.

    Making biryani masala powder

    • In a spice grinder or small dry grinder, grind all the spices listed above, under the heading "For Biryani Masala" to a fine powder. Set aside.

    Making vegetable gravy

    • Heat oil in the 3 litre stovetop pressure cooker or pan.
    • Add the thinly sliced onions. Sauté them on a medium-low to medium heat, stirring often until they get golden. Lower the heat and then quickly remove ¼ cup of the sautéed onions from the pan and set aside.
    • To the remaining ¾ cup of onions in the cooker or pan, add the ginger-garlic paste.
    • Stir and sauté until the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes dissipates.
    • Now add the freshly ground biryani masala and red chilli powder. Stir to combibe.
    • Add the mix chopped vegetables and green peas. Stir for some 3 to 4 mins on a low heat.
    • Reduce the heat and add the curd or yogurt slowly, stirring it really well until it has been incorporated evenly with the vegetables.
    • Now add water and salt. Mix very well. Pressure cook the veggies for 1 whistle.
    • When the pressure settles down and drops naturally in the cooker, remove the lid and check the veggie gravy. The gravy consistency should be medium-thick or slightly thick.
    • If the mixed vegetables are undercooked, keep the cooker on the stovetop and simmer the gravy without the lid till the vegetables are tender.
    • If there is too much water in the gravy, simmer till some water dries up. The gravy should have a medium-thick or slightly thick consistency and should not be very watery or runny.

    Assembling and layering biryani

    • In a small bowl take 2 tablespoons milk. Add saffron strands and mix well. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • If baking then use a oven-proof pyrex bowl or deep pan.
      If cooking on stove then use the same pan in which you cooked the veggies or a different one. You can make as many layers you want.
    • Arrange half of the vegetable gravy in the pan or pyrex bowl.
    • Now spread half of the cooked basmati rice on top of the vegetable gravy layer.
    • Sprinkle half of the mint leaves, 1 tablespoon oil/ghee and the saffron milk.
    • Also add half of the sautéed golden onions evenly on this layer.
    • Top this layer with another layer of the vegetable gravy. Then again top evenly with a rice layer.
    • And finally top with mint leaves, 1 tablespoon oil/ghee, saffron milk and fried onions.

    Cooking vegetable biryani

    • Cover the pyrex bowl with an aluminium foil.
    • If using a pan, then cover the pan with a moist muslin cloth or aluminum foil. Cover tightly with a lid. Gather the hanging edges of the muslin cloth and place or stick it on top of the lid.
    • You can bake the biryani for 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 180 degree C/356 degrees F.
    • If cooking on stovetop, then first heat up a tawa/griddle for a few minutes and then keep the biryani pan on the tawa. This way the bottom of the biryani won't get burnt. 
    • Lower the heat and let the biryani cook for 25 to 30 minutes or till all the liquids have been absorbed and the rice grains look tender and fluffier.
    • Once cooked, give a resting time of 5 to 7 minutes before you serve.
    • Serve Restaurant Style Vegetable Biryani hot with some raita, pickle, salad and papad.

    Notes

    • This same recipe can be made with raw unripe jackfruit or button mushrooms.
    • The recipe is adaptable to be made with your choice of vegetables. If utilizing soft veggies like brinjals (eggplants), zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, etc; cook in a pan or pot and not a pressure cooker.
    • For a plant based version use cashew yogurt and a neutral flavored oil. 
    • You could add some roasted or fried nuts like almonds or cashews as a garnish. 

    Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

    Nutrition Facts
    Vegetable Biryani (Restaurant Style)
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 583 Calories from Fat 189
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 21g32%
    Saturated Fat 3g19%
    Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
    Monounsaturated Fat 16g
    Cholesterol 9mg3%
    Sodium 819mg36%
    Potassium 866mg25%
    Carbohydrates 87g29%
    Fiber 8g33%
    Sugar 10g11%
    Protein 12g24%
    Vitamin A 5558IU111%
    Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.3mg20%
    Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.3mg18%
    Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 3mg15%
    Vitamin B6 1mg50%
    Vitamin B12 0.3µg5%
    Vitamin C 35mg42%
    Vitamin D 0.2µg1%
    Vitamin E 8mg53%
    Vitamin K 17µg16%
    Calcium 192mg19%
    Vitamin B9 (Folate) 68µg17%
    Iron 3mg17%
    Magnesium 79mg20%
    Phosphorus 268mg27%
    Zinc 2mg13%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    This Vegetable Biryani recipe from the archives was first published on November 2012. It has been updated and republished on June 2024.

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    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.

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