Vegetable Dum Biryani

Spiced vegetables cooked with basmati, saffron, butter and whole spices

Its nearly Christmas and whilst I plan what the menu will be for Christmas Day lunch (which is usually a feast!) I also like to have the rest of the week organised with ideas to use up leftovers. Roast goose is a yearly family favorite and leftovers makes the best curry for Boxing day! I use a lot of the veg to either make veg tikkis with runny fried eggs for breakfast or as part of a main meal which includes spiced salads. This year a vegetable dum biryani is a must! One that will use up most of the vegetables and add so much flavour. I use my basic biryani recipe and swap the veg for whatever I have. This recipe is made with some of my favorite spices including green cardamom, saffron and cinnamon. Use a good pinch of saffron for a lovely colour to the rice. Served with some salad and boondi raita its the perfect one pot dish.


  1. To layer the biryani; heat the oil on a medium flame in a frying pan. Add the onions and fry for 35-40 minutes stirring every few minutes. The onions will go crisp and turn golden brown. Take them off the heat and drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

    Vegetable Dum Biryani (4)

  2. To cook the vegetables; blanch the cauliflower in boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Drain and plunge in cold water and set aside.

    Add all the whole spices in a pestle and mortar. Crush then to a coarse mix and set aside.

    In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat the oil and butter over a medium flame. Add the onions and fry for 25minutes. Stir well and add the coarsely crushed spices frying for a minute. Add the grated ginger and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomato along with the tomato puree and continue to fry until the tomatoes soften for 3 minutes. Lower the heat and add the chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder. Stir well for 30 seconds. Add the vegetables, lower the heat and stir well making sure to coat them in the spices. Add the water and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, garam masala and season to taste. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.

  3. To cook the rice; heat a heavy bottom sauce pan and bring the water to a boil. Drain the rice and add it to the water. Season to taste. Cook the rice for 7-8 minutes. It should be half cooked. Drain the rice and begin to layer the biryani.

  4. Layer the biryani; preheat the oven to 180c. In a casserole dish add a tablespoon of butter on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of the vegetable curry and top with a layer of rice. Sprinkle over the saffron milk, chopped mint and coriander and a pinch of cardamom powder. Finally add some of the fried onions. Vegetable Dum Biryani (3)

  5. Repeat the process with more vegetable curry followed by an even layer of rice. Top with remaining butter, saffron milk, mint, coriander and a pinch cardamom powder. Top with a little more of the fried onion leaving the rest to serve along with the vegetable biryani. Cover with a layer of foil and put a tight fitting lid on. Put the casserole in the oven on a middle shelf for 10-12 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave to rest until ready to serve. Serve the vegetable biryani with salad and boondi raita.

  • Hee Jung

    I appreciate this vegetarian recipe!

  • Cerena Tan

    Thank you Maunika, for sharing this vege dum biryani recipe. I just made it today and it is deliciously good! It is my first time making a biryani and it was a little stressful but I enjoyed the process none the less. The flavours, texture and the aroma of the spices and ingredients come through, fragrant yet delicate and not overpowering. I enjoyed putting the dish together, layering the veg curry and the rice topped with fresh mint, coriander, saffron milk, butter and cardamom powder and must say the fragrant browned onions topping adds that extra aroma and flavour to this dish! This has joined my shortlist of go to recipes on meat-free days. Thank you so much again!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      SO lovely to hear this! Thank you for your kind comments. Love a good biryani. You must check out the Lamb biryani too its delicious x

  • Umesh Bhalsod

    Hi Maunika, can this be layered the night before and put in the oven on the day?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Ideally you want to do it the same day as you eat as the rice grains are half cooked. Enjoy the recipe!

  • Mad jock

    Where as I appreciate the time it took to put up this recipe, I would double check the timings for everything. 45 minutes on onions ! 12 mins in oven ?? The time
    Inns didn’t work for me , but the flavours are delightful .

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you for your comment and sorry to hear you havent enjoyed the biryani. As the recipe mentions its 260 gms of onions which is around 4 medium onions. Your looking for a rich brown colour on the onions and so it does take some time to fry. The rice is par boiled and the vegetable curry is cooked seperately. They go in the oven mainly to blend the flavours and aromas. Also to layer the biryani. Hope this helps!

  • Chaithra

    Tried this recipe! Totally loved it, never has my Biryani turned out so perfect!! The qtys and cooking time were spot on! I almost always either have too much curry or too little rice. Also discovered that the to get results u need patience, was throw off my the 40 min for the onions but dint take long for me to realize that all these years I wasn’t cooking my onions enough 🙂

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      This is so lovely to hear:) Yes onions take sometime to cook but are always worth the effort. Not all recipes require such long cooking times but when you need that camarlley brown sweet flavours its a labour of love.

  • Sam Merchant

    Alert lazy person question: Can one substitute fresh onions for pre-made fried onions?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes you can! Although add them when your layering which will give even more flavour to the rice and vegetables.

      • Sam Merchant

        Excellent it turned out wonderfully!

  • Siri

    Hey Maunika! Can we cook the biryani on a kitchen stove? If so, can you please mention for how long to cook the biryani?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes ofcourse you’ll need to make sure the saucepan is placed over a griddle pan so its not in direct contact with the heat. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Supersonic Travel

    loved this recipe i prepared the other day all the family and friends

    loved it…But only thing i altered is i addes boiled fried eggs to it. It was amazing thank you so much for wonderful recipe…. Dine with Danika’s Hyderabad special Egg Dum Biryani

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Adding egg sounds delicious!

  • Christine Williams

    I really had my doubts about this because of the different cooking times for the vegetables, but I followed the directions, and what a lovely outcome. Truly beautiful and delicate, but also full-bodied. I did pre-cook the rice only 4 minutes instead of 7-8 and added extra milk when I was layering. I don’t know if it made any difference, but it was a good way to use up milk.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you and wonderful to hear you’ve enjoyed it:)

  • Ridhima Boodhoo Appaya

    first time trying biryani in oven was perfect and delicciousss. Thanks. If I am making this recipe for 30 persons, should the quantity of onions be multiplied by 30?

  • Richard James Cole

    Made this for friends last night – served alongside your butter chicken recipe. Well worth the effort. Our friends stated that it was the best homemade biryani and curry they’d tasted! Great compliment! Thanks very much.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yay!! So lovely to hear this. Thank you and Merry Christmas x

  • Raquel Mejias

    I really wnated to try this recipe but the gms is throwing me. For example cooming the rice. 220 gms is only 7/8 cups. And 1.5 litres is 6 cups. Is there a way to get it for those who use cups and ounces for cooking?


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