Biryani is such an emotion in India. People swear by this fragrant, slow-cooked rice dish all over India. But surprisingly, the origin of Biryani has been traced to Persia. Even the word is derived from a Persian word Birian which literally translates to fried before cooking.

While some say that Biryani was brought to India by Mughals while some say that it was brought by Mongol conqueror Timūr Gurkānī. It was later picked up by the Nawabs of Lucknow and Nizams of Hyderabad who adapted the recipes to their own taste buds.

India now has multiple versions of this Biryani and its preparation varies from region to region. Here are some of the more famous versions:

  1. Awadhi or Lucknawi Biryani
  2. Hyderabadi Biryani
  3. Moradabadi Biryani
  4. Kolkata Biryani

Purists laugh and say that there’s no such thing as a veg biryani, but hey, if that’s all you eat, then you get creative. I have made this simple and lovely version of the Awadhi biryani, hope you try it and love it.

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes


  1. Basmati rice – 1.25 cups
  2. Onion – 2, large
  3. Beans – 10-15
  4. Peas – ½ cup
  5. Carrots – 2
  6. Potato – 1, medium
  7. Cauliflower or Broccoli florets– ½ cup
  8. Garlic – 4 pods
  9. Ginger – one small piece
  10. Green chilli – 2
  11. Curd – 1 cup
  12. Cottage cheese/paneer – ½ cup
  13. Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
  14. Milk – 3-4 tablespoons
  15. Saffron strands – a few
  16. Biryani masala – 1 tablespoon, optional
  17. Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  18. Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
  19. Rose water/Gulab jal – 2 tablespoons
  20. Bay leaf/Tej patta – 1
  21. Cinnamon stick/Dalchini – 1
  22. Cloves/Laung – 3
  23. Black pepper/kali mirch – 5
  24. Black cardamom/badi elaichi – 1
  25. Green cardamom/choti elaichi – 2
  26. Cumin seeds/zeera – 1 teaspoon
  27. Clarified butter/ghee – 1 tablespoon
  28. Vegetable oil – 1-2 tablespoons
  29. Salt – to taste


  1. Heavy bottom pan
  2. Non-stick kadhai
  3. Pressure cooker


Cooking the rice first –
  1. Wash the basmati rice properly and soak it in water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Take a pressure cooker and add tablespoon ghee to it.
  3. Add all the whole spices to it – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, black pepper, cumin seeds, and the cardamoms.
  4. Add in the soaked basmati rice and the same quantity of water.
  5. Squeeze a little lemon juice and add half of the salt to the rice.
Pressure-cook rice

6. Pressure-cook the rice for exactly one whistle.

Cooking the veggies next –

7. Now take a non-stick or a heavy-bottom kadhai and add about 2 tablespoons of oil to it.
8. Thinly slice the onions and add them to the kadhai/wok.
9. Cook them until they caramelize and get brown.
10. Remove them from the pan and add paneer cubes to it.
11. Allow them to get brown on all sides. You can also grill the paneer slices as I did.
12. Now dice the veggies into bite-size pieces.
13. In the same wok, add some oil if needed and add half of the caramelized onion back.  Now make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillis and add it to the wok and cook for about 1 minute.
14. Add all the veggies to the wok and add the remaining half of salt to it.
15. Cover the wok with a lid and allow the veggies to cook for about 4-5 minutes. Do not completely cook the veggies.
16. Add curd to the kadhai. Also, add red chilli powder, coriander powder, and biryani masala and let the veggies cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Add yogurt

17. Mix saffron strands in lukewarm water and let them cook for 4-5 minutes.

Setting up Dum –

18. Now you could take an earthen handi or the same heavy bottom pan for dum.
19. Add a layer of veggies first and add a nice layer of the boiled rice to it.
20. Drizzle a little rosewater and saffron-infused milk on it.  Add a few grilled paneer pieces too.
21. Add another layer of cooked veggies and another rice layer.

Layer the veggies and rice

22. Drizzle a little more rose water and saffron milk.
23. Cover the lid properly and let this cook for about 5-7 minutes.
24. Open the lid and add all the caramelized onion slices and serve with a cucumber and onion raita.

Awadhi Veg Biryani