Veg Biryani

Spiced basmati rice is studded with crunchy cashews, rich coconut flakes, and sweet raisins, and tossed with hearty roasted veggies and spicy baked tofu to make this flavor-packed vegan vegetable biryani. This dish is as pretty as it is delicious, and perfect for special occasions!


For the Rice

  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 2 medium onions (about ¾ pound total), sliced into thin strips
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 whole green cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

For the Spicy Baked Tofu

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil, or neutral oil of choice
  • 1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into ½-inch cubes

For the Roasted Vegetables

  • 1 medium russet potato, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups small cauliflower florets (about ½ of a medium crown)
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or neutral oil of choice

For Serving

  • 1 cup roasted cashews
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut


  1. Begin by caramelizing the onions for the rice. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium low heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized.
  3. While the onions cook, place the basmati rice into a medium pot or bowl and cover it with water. Allow the rice to soak for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse it.
  4. While the onions cook and the rice soaks, being preparing the tofu. In a shallow dish, stir together the soy sauce, maple syrup, lemon juice, garlic, garam masala and oil.
  5. Add the tofu and toss to coat. If you have time, let the tofu marinate for about 20 minutes. Otherwise, preheat the oven to 400° and arrange the tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake the tofu for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. The tofu should have shrunk a bit and darkened by the time it is finished baking.
  7. While the tofu bakes, make the roasted vegetables place the potato, cauliflower and green beans into a roasting pan or skillet and drizzle with oil. Toss everything to coat.
  8. Place the veggies into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  9. While the tofu and veggies cook, continue preparing the rice. When the onions have finished caramelizing, remove them from the pot and transfer them to a plate.
  10. Add the raisins, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper to the pot.
  11. Raise the heat to medium and toast the spices for about 1 minute, just until the garlic becomes very fragrant and the cumin seeds begin to darken. Avoid cooking the spices too long, as they can become bitter.
  12. Return the onions to the pot and stir the water, salt and soaked rice. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
  13. Lower the heat until the liquid is at a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes.
  14. Remove the pot from heat and let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes after cooking.
  15. Remove the lid from the pot, fluff the rice, then stir in the baked tofu, roasted veggies, cashews, cilantro, and coconut.
  16. Remove the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and bay leaves (or leave them in for garnish – just don’t eat them!) Divide onto plates and serve.

Plate of Roasted Vegetable Biryani with Baked Tofu

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