Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Feed your appetite for cooking with Penguin’s expert authors

penguin logo

Layered Vegetable Biryani

by Monir Mohammed, Martin Gray from Mother India at Home: Recipes Pictures Stories

Colourful layers of vegetables are met with cardamom, cinnamon and mint rice for this vibrant veggie dish. Serve simply with cooling Indian raita and a salad.

From the book

Monir Mohammed, Martin Gray


25ml sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
20g ginger, finely chopped
2 green chillies, sliced
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds (see method below)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp yoghurt
4 medium carrots, chopped into 2 cm pieces
1 medium cauliflower, separated into florets
100g frozen peas
20 button mushrooms
For the rice:
400g basmati rice
3 green cardamom pods
2 sticks cinnamon
4 cloves
A few sprigs of fresh mint
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sunflower oil
To finish:
Crispy onions (see method below)
25g chilled butter

Essential kit

You will need an ovenproof dish about 23cm x 23cm x 10cm.


Soak the rice in lukewarm water for 30 minutes, then drain.

While the rice is soaking, roast the cumin seeds. To do this, place them in a small pan and put them over a gentle heat for about 1 – 1½ minutes. They will take on a slightly darker colour. You’ve got to be very careful here, as if they’re roasted too long they will burn and this will produce a bitter taste. When they are ready, take the pan off the heat and allow the cumin to cool.

Next, prepare the crispy onions. Heat 350ml of vegetable oil in a heavy-based pan and deep-fry 4 small, thinly sliced white onions until golden in colour. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, then drain and spread them out on kitchen paper so that any excess oil can be absorbed.

Now for the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pan. Once hot, add the onion and cook gently for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, green chillies and cumin seeds and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, chilli powder and turmeric and let everything simmer for a couple of minutes. Whip the yoghurt in a small dish using a whisk to get rid of any lumps and to make it smooth, then add it to the pan and stir well. After 3 minutes of simmering add the carrots and cauliflower, stirring well, then cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables simmer over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes, checking them every now and then.

Add the peas and mushrooms, stir well, and simmer for a final 2 minutes. You may need a splash of water to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan. The vegetables should be about two-thirds cooked and al dente at this stage.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 6. Pour 2.5 litres of water into a large pan and add the cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves, mint, salt and oil. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rice, bring to a simmer for 3 minutes (we want the rice al dente), then drain.

Put a layer of rice into an ovenproof dish about 23cm x 23cm x 10cm. Add a layer of vegetables, then some crispy onions. Repeat the process, finishing with rice as the final layer. Place the butter on top and cover with a lid or tin foil. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Serve with raita and a salad.


Subscribe to The Happy Foodie email newsletter

Get our latest recipes, features, book news and ebook deals straight to your inbox every week