I’ve only recently discovered biryani, and man oh man. I’ve been missing out. Biryani is an Indian dish that varies from region to region, but in a nutshell, it’s spiced basmati rice slowly simmered with vegetables, sometimes meat, chili peppers, and more spices, until all of the flavors meld together into serious perfection. Sometimes the rice cooks right with the other good stuff; sometimes it’s partially cooked and then added to all of the other ingredients and simmered until it’s all ready to go.
True biryani is not fast to make. It requires several steps and a level of expertise with the cuisine that I, frankly, do not possess. But I really wanted to make delicious biryani at home, and this Biryani-Inspired Autumn Vegetable Rice recipe – studded with butternut squash, cauliflower, cashews, and golden raisins – completely 100% does it for us.
Because I do cook the rice separately and then fold it in with the other ingredients at the last minute, I felt I couldn’t label this recipe a true biryani – though truth be told, we do call it biryani at home.
The best news of all? This version of the dish takes way less time to prepare. A super-express biryani!
Whether you’re making authentic biryani or this vegetable rice that’s inspired by it, the rice is absolutely key. Basmati is the only way; make that authentic Basmati rice, please. For this recipe, I partnered with Royal brand Basmati Rice – the real deal. Royal Basmati rice is grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, the one and only region where true Basmati rice can actually come from.
And it shows. I adore this rice; it’s fluffy, not sticky, and it cooks up perfectly every time. It’s aged for a minimum of 12 months which contributes to its distinct, addicting nutty flavor.
For this recipe, I simmer the rice with turmeric, a cinnamon stick, cardamom, and cloves, plus a handful of cashews and golden raisins. Trust me, rice has never, ever smelled better than this.
Meanwhile, I’ve cooked up some onions, added some garlic, garam masala, and chili peppers, and thrown in some butternut squash and cauliflower. Once all of that deliciousness is cooked until tender, I gently fold in the spiced rice. And that’s it! So good … and when served with lime wedges, cilantro, and purple onion, it’s pretty gorgeous to look at too.
Biryani-Inspired Autumn Vegetable Rice
For the rice:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup Royal® brand Basmati Rice
- 1 cup whole raw cashews
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 1 6- inch stick cinnamon (broken in half)
- 5 whole cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 cups water
For the veggies:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 dried red chiles (ends snipped for more heat)
- 2 cups cauliflower florets (about 3/4 inch size)
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash (diced 1/2 inch)
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 fresh lime (for about 1 tablespoon juice)
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Sliced red onion
- Start the rice. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, drizzle in the 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add the rice, cashews, raisins, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the water and bring to a boil. Stir once then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and remove cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, and cloves. If you can't find all the cloves and cardamom pods, no biggie! Finding and picking out an errant whole spice while eating is part of the charm of biryani. 🙂
- While the rice is cooking, cook the veggies. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the dried chiles, garlic, garam masala, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the butternut squash, cauliflower, and 1 cup of water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil then cover. Cook for until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Remove cover and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Reduce heat to low and gently fold in the rice with a spatula. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Remove from heat and squeeze the lime over the top.
- Transfer to serving bowl and top with cilantro and red onions. Serve immediately.
This post was sponsored by Royal® brand Basmati Rice. I was paid to develop this recipe using their Basmati rice, but my opinions are always my own. ‘
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