Easy cauliflower biryani is a vegetarian spin on an Indian classic. Fluffy long grain rice layered with spicy cauliflower curry baked until aromatic.
Biryani is one of our family favorites. The fluffy rice layered with aromatic curry then baked under a blanket of golden, turmeric-scented rice and crispy fried onions is always a showstopper. And since cauliflower curry is another one of our obsessions, I thought it time to merge the two and create this cauliflower biryani. It’s easy and perfect for serving drizzled with plain yogurt as a filling vegetarian dinner.
How to make biryani
Start by making the cauliflower curry. Break down two medium heads of cauliflower into florets. Place onto a large sheetpan (use two sheetpans if needed) then drizzle the cauliflower with oil and season with salt. Roast in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. While the cauliflower is roasting, saute onions, garlic and ginger until fragrant in a large pot then add curry spices (you can use an all-purpose curry powder or Garam Masala. I often use a mixture of Indian spices to make my own blend. Cardamom, coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric, bay leaf, curry leaves and cinnamon all work well). Pour in stock and allow to come to a simmer. Add the roasted cauliflower then cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
While the curry is cooking, prepare the rice. Cook Basmati rice according to package instructions. I always use 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid and allow to steam for 10-20 minutes.
While the rice and curry are cooking, fry thinly sliced onions (for the topping) until golden brown in hot oil. Remove and drain then season with salt. For the spiced butter, melt together butter or ghee with turmeric (you can use saffron as well).
To assemble the biryani, layer half of the cooked rice into a deep pot then top with the curry. Top with the remaining rice. Pour over the spiced butter and add half of the fried onions. Cover with a lid and place into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the biryani is fragrant. Remove from the oven and top with the remaining fried onions and fresh cilantro (coriander) before serving.
Can you freeze biryani?
Yes, you can freeze biryani. Transfer cooked biryani to a freezer safe container and allow to cool completely before covering and freezing for up to 3 months. Allow biryani to thaw completely before heating in the oven for 20 minutes before serving.
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Easy cauliflower Biryani
- 1 kg (2lbs) cauliflower florets
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tsp crushed ginger
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
- 1 tbsp hot garam masala
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 cups stock
- salt to taste
- 2 cups Jasmine/ Basmati rice
- 4 cups chicken stock/water
For the crispy fried onions
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- oil for frying
For the spiced butter
- ½ cup butter
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Place cauliflower onto baking sheets (or one large baking sheet) then drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt. Place in the oven and allow to roast for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
- To cook the rice, add the Basmati rice to a large pot set over medium heat. Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the water has been absorbed then turn off the heat, cover and allow to steam for 10-20 minutes.
- In a large pot, fry the onions, garlic and ginger for 2 minutes before adding spices. Allow to fry for another minute and add the roasted cauliflower into the pot.
- Stir to coat the cauliflower in all the spices and add the sugar and stock.
- Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions until crisp and golden and then drain and set aside.
- To make the spiced butter, melt the butter, turmeric and salt together.
- To assemble the dish, layer a ½ of the rice at the bottom of a greased oven-proof dish. Drizzle with half of the spiced butter. Next, cover the rice with the cauliflower curry. Follow with the rest of the rice and the remaining butter. Finally, cover the rice with the fried onions (reserve some onions for serving). Cover with a lid or foil.
- Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve the Biryani with the plain yogurt and fresh Coriander/cilantro.