Rice Biryani

When I mentioned to Katie that I wanted to make Tandoori Chicken last weekend, she emailed her uncle P.K. (who happens to be from India) to see if he had any recipes to share. Having already tossed around the idea of a vegetarian rice biryani dish as a side, I was thrilled when he emailed her back with his biryani recipe.

Biryani is a wonderfully spiced rice dish that I have only had a handful of times. P.K.’s recipe included cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom, plus toasted almonds and golden raisins. I made a vegetarian version using vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth in the original recipe.

His original recipe called for making white rice and spiced rice, and then mixing the two. To save time – and minimize dish washing – I made just the spiced rice. I would also recommend going a little light on the stock; I added too much right away, and wound up slightly overcooking the rice. I also totally forgot to add the peas at the end – oops! I’m obviously not a biryani expert just yet, but I found this to be a pretty great and foolproof recipe, even when you don’t follow it exacly. Thanks, Katie and P.K.!

Rice Biryani

Ingredients (6-8)

  • 6 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-inch cube of butter (for rice)
  • 1 lg. cinnamon stick
  • 6 fresh cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 20-25 whole black peppercorns
  • salt
  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4-inch pat of butter (for almonds)
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup frozen green peas


Using a non-stick frying pan, saute the onions in the olive oil, stirring frequently until the onions are somewhere between golden brown and dark brown. Set aside.

In a small frying pan, saute the almonds in butter, stirring constantly until the almonds are golden brown. Turn off the heat and let the almonds continue to cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with tap water; gently swish the bowl and pour out the now cloudy water, taking care not to break the rice grains during this process. Repeat this until the water runs clear (this may mean 10-12 rinses). Drain out all the rinsing water.

Take a larger, non-stick pot and add the 1-inch cube of butter. Melt over low heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, cumin seeds, and peppercorns and saute until the cumin seeds are sizzling (2-3 minutes; take care not to let the butter burn). Add the rest of the uncooked rice and the sauteed onions and mix gently. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and 2 1/2-3 cups broth (enough to cover the rice). Cover and cook over medium heat until almost all the water is absorbed (about 25-30 minutes). Stir once or twice to prevent sticking. While there is still some water left, ad the frozen peas, cover, and continue to cook until the peas have separated. Mix rice and peas gently. The peas should cook with the rice for 4-5 minutes. When all the water has been absorbed, test the doneness of the rice by testing. Turn off the heat, replace the lid, and let the rice mixture sit for 7-10 minutes.

Add the raisins and almonds to the rice and stir gently. Remove the cinnamon stick and as any cardamon pods you can find.

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