Root Vegetable Biryani

Biryani- A beautiful blend of flavors that can transcend tastes, cultures, and ideologies. This Vegan recipe and the technique of making this layered rice dish in a clay pot was so satisfying that I had to share it. If you are interested in the history of Biryani and its origination, there are some fascinating articles on the net. For me, the familiarity of the spices I grew up with are the ones that lend flavor to my version – the cinnamon, the cloves, and the cardamom are a staple in my cooking and of course, the beautiful and sublime Kashmiri Saffron is an absolute must along with the rose flavor.

I was looking for something to tie together our multicultural Thanksgiving table that would make our Indian, Kashmiri, Afghan, French and Egyptian family happy. I was thrilled to find a recipe from @afghancooks that spoke to me in so many ways. The recipe and technique I have used is very close to the recipe from AfghanCooks so if you would like to find her, please head over to Youtube or IG.

A few tips and notes:

Let’s talk about the clay pot which was a game changer- I carried this particular pot with me very carefully from Kashmir but you can buy clay pots from Amazon. I can tell you that the dishes cooked in clay do offer a unique flavor but if you don’t have one, don’t fret and use a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight lid.

I felt the choice of seasonal root vegetables was important. I used parsnips and carrots. Also added in a couple of Yukon gold potatoes which balanced it out. I could have used pumpkin but I was afraid it would turn to mush, I also could have used turnips but it would have been too strong a flavor.

The technique of boiling the spices beforehand in water to extract all the juices and then straining the liquid into the pot was something unique and totally worth it.

And yes, don’t forget the Sella rice – that will make you dish failproof. I used @AahuBarah rice which you will find in your local asian stores or Amazon.

I mostly took videos on this recipe so do check out the compilation below:

Root Vegetable Biryani

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A saffron and rose infused rendition of the layed rice dish with root vegetables, raisins, almonds and spices


  • 3 cups of Sella rice ( found on amazon on any asian stores)
  • 3 carrots cut in large chunks
  • 3 parsnips cut in large chunks
  • 3 medium potatoes cut in quarters
  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup avocado or oil of choice
  • Spices

  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 8 green cardamom
  • 3 black cardamom
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp rose petals
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp biryani spice mix ( optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 tbsp rose water
  • half cup golden raisins
  • half cup sliced almons


  1. Makes the garlic ginger pastes by grinding equal parts of garlic and ginger
  2. Fry 2 large onion slices until golden ( you can use store bought fried onions)
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the saffron, add rose water and set aside
  4. pan fry the raisons and almons in oil until the raisins plump up ( this should just take a couple of mins). Set aside
  5. Wash and soak the rice in water for 15 mins
  6. Use a mortar pestle to coarsely grind the spices except for cumin and 2 bay leaves
  7. Boil the crushed spices in 4 cups of water for 15 mins while the rice soaks
  8. Heat your clay pot or heavy bottomed pan, add oil and splutter the cumin and bay leaves.
  9. Add the vegetables and fry for 1 min
  10. Add the fired onions and mix
  11. Add the soaked rice
  12. Pour in the strained liquid from the spices. Check the water for salt and add accordingly.
  13. Mix together so that the water covers the rice and vegetables by 1/2 inch.
  14. Pour over the saffron mixture and top with cilantro and mint.
  15. Let the water come to a boil, turn down to a simmer which was the lowest heat on my stovetop and cover with an air tight lid. I wrapped the lid in a tea towel and closed the pot. Simmer without disturbing for 40 mins. Don’t touch it – it will be perfect,
  16. top with some fried onions, raisins and almonds before serving.

Sharing this dish with my friends at Fiesta Friday

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