Spicy Vegetable Rice Pilaf

I am Indian but I have been living in the US for more than two decades. Over this time I have had the opportunity to travel to various parts of the world and the result has been that my cooking repertoire has expanded to all kinds of dishes that I did not originally grow up with. But comfort food for me has always been Biryani! I make all kinds of biryani – Lamb Biryani, Goat Biryani, Jackfruit Biryani and most often Chicken Biryani! Once a month I get a huge craving for eating a bowl of spicy biryani with a cool mint Raita on the side but since this dish takes a huge time commitment, most often I end up chickening out of it (I suppose the pun was intended). Recently I discovered an easy short-cut method of making a vegetable Biryani that tastes as good as the original 3-hour version of it. For this I don’t need to go through the long-drawn process of caramelizing the onions and later layer the half-cooked rice – it is a one pot dish that gets done in less than half an hour and completely satisfies my craving for spicy food!



1. 1 Cup of Basmati Rice
2. 1/2 cup of frozen petite peas
3. One small onion
4. A handful of small carrots (or a couple of the regular long ones)
5. A handful of green beans (or you can use ¼ of a head of cauliflower)
6. 2-3 small potatoes
7. 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
8. 1.5 tablespoons of Shaan Biryani Powder (available at Indian grocery stores)
9. 1.5 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
10. ½ cup of raw cashews or roasted cashews.



1. Peel and chop the onion in a small dice

2. Chop the carrots into bite sized pieces

3. Chop the beans into bite sized pieces

4. Chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces
5. Place the frozen peas in a small colander and run them through cold water to thaw them out.

6. In a medium sized sauce pan pour the cooking oil and the cumin seeds and place the sauce pan over medium heat. In a minute the cumin seeds will start to sizzle.
7. When the cumin starts to sizzle, add the chopped onion to the pan and stir thoroughly. Let the onion cook for about a minute.

8. Add the potatoes to the pot and stir.

9. Add the carrots to the pot and stir.
10. Add the beans to the pot and stir.

11. Add the peas to the pot and stir.
12. Add the Biryani powder to the pot and stir thoroughly!

13. Now add the rice to the pot and stir thoroughly (still over medium to low heat) so that all the rice gets coated with the oil and biryani powder.

14. Add two cups of water to the pot and stir. Cover the pot with a well-fitted lid.
15. If you have raw cashews, pour a teaspoon of oil in a skillet and toast the cashews in it. If you are using roasted cashews, skip this step.

16. After 5 minutes of pouring the water into the sauce pan, add the roasted cashews into pot and stir everything gently (so as to not break the grains of rice).
17. Cover the pot and let the process of cooking the rice get completed. It should take another 8-10 minutes. After that turn off the heat and let the rice stand for another 5-7 minutes.
18. Serve the biryani with a mint or cucumber raita.


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  1. Permalink Submitted by Gurpriya Gill on Tue, 26/02/2013 - 04:01

    Yummy…can’t believe you even do jackfruit biryani…I will have to come to Bethesda now!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Tue, 26/02/2013 - 14:42

    Hey Gurpriya 🙂 I told you – you have a standing invitation!!!! BTW in the Jackfruit biryani I use canned green Jackfruit – tastes REALLY good and my completely carnivorous husband loves it even when it is a vegetarian Biryani!

  3. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Sat, 09/03/2013 - 17:37

    this is truly the ultimate comfort food! With all those yummy vegetables, why would you need meat?! Now if you added some dal to the mixture, I guess it wouldn’t be biryani but rather a masala khichdi – a one-pot meal that is also major comfort food for me.

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