Quick Weeknight Vegetarian Biryani

vegetrarian biyrani

Patsy Catsos

Total Time: 45 min
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Servings: 4 (1 1/4 cups each)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

300 calories
14g fat
35g carbs
9g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 (1 1/4 cups each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 300
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 310mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 5g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 9g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 74mg 6%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 409mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

The essence of biryani is the spice mixture used to season it, in our case, garlic-infused oil, fresh ginger, turmeric and garam masala. While traditional biryanis can be elaborate and meat-based, our version is quicker, lighter, and uses urad dal to supply protein instead of meat.

Urad dal are tiny, split black beans, often skinless so they are actually off-white in color. They blend in visually with the rice. Urad dal can be purchased at Asian or Indian markets or online.

To keep them low-FODMAP, give them a good long soak, boil them in plenty of water, and drain thoroughly before adding to the rice mixture. Start the soak after breakfast and finish this recipe in just 30 minutes at suppertime.


  • ½ cup uncooked urad dal
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh turmeric root
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds 
  • ¼ cup chopped mint leaves


  1. Rinse the urad dal and soak it for about 10 hours before proceeding with the recipe. Drain the soaking water, rinse well, and cover the urad dal with about 2 inches of fresh water in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan (though it may seem a little large for the job, this size pot will help prevent messy boil-overs). Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the cooked beans.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Rinse the uncooked rice thoroughly in a bowl, changing the water several times, and finally draining and rinsing it in a mesh strainer. This removes some of the starch and keeps the grains of rice from sticking together during cooking. In a 4-quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Stir the rice and coconut oil over medium heat until the rice begins to brown, 5-6 minutes. Add the water and cover tightly; bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a very low simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat, add the raisins, quickly re-cover and allow the rice to continue steaming for 5 more minutes.

  3. In the empty bean cooking pot, heat the remaining coconut oil with the garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, salt and slivered almonds. Sauté over medium heat until the garlic and the almonds begin to brown, about 4 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.

  4. Gently stir together the rice, urad dal, and spice mixture. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Turmeric is a root. Fresh turmeric looks a little like fresh ginger, but the flesh is bright orange and not as fibrous. When it isn't available, 1 teaspoon ground dried turmeric can be used very successfully instead of 1 tablespoon of the fresh root.

Non-vegetarians can substitute reduced-sodium low-FODMAP chicken broth for the water in this recipe if desired. Reduce salt by 1/4 teaspoon.

If you like a bit more heat, garnish with red pepper flakes.

Add chopped fresh cilantro to garnish if desired.

Cooking and Serving Tips

If your saucepan lacks a tight-fitting lid, seal the pot with aluminum foil to keep the steam in while cooking the rice.

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