Lucknow Mixed Vegetable Biryani
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Adapted from Laxmi Hiremath
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 2-inch cinnamon sticks, divided
  • 10 whole cloves, divided
  • 8 green cardamom pods, divided
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 small hot chile peppers, minced (optional--I left out)
  • 6 T vegetable oil, as needed, divided
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • salt to taste
  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 4-5 small-medium Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 t garam masala, to taste
  • ½ t paprika or cayenne
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • ¼ t asafetida
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • ¾ cup plain whole fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 T melted ghee
  • 2 T milk
  • pinch of saffron
  1. Rinse and drain the rice 3 times. Then leave it to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Toward the end of the 30 minutes, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the tablespoon of salt, 1 cinnamon stick, and half of the cloves and cardamom pods. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water at the end of the 30 minutes. Let boil for 5 minutes. Then drain the rice and set it aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium-large Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add 2 of the sliced onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until they are deep golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Add a splash of water if they start to scorch or stick. Using a slotted spoon, remove the caramelized onions to a separate bowl.
  5. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Cook the potatoes until they are browned and tender but still holding their shape. Remove them to another bowl and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the sweet potatoes and cook them until they are browned and tender but still holding their shape. Sprinkle with salt and remove to the bowl with the potatoes.
  7. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan (if there is oil left in the pan from the potatoes, then add less). Add the other half of the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom whole spices. Cook until fragrant, a minute or two.
  8. Add the remaining 1 onion, sliced, to the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is starting to caramelize. Add the minced ginger and garlic (and hot chile pepper if using). Continue to cook, stirring, until the onions are completely caramelized.
  9. Add the garam masala, cayenne or paprika, turmeric and asafetida and stir to incorporate evenly. Add the cauliflowers and toss. Reduce the heat to medium and place a lid on the pan. Let the cauliflower cook for 5 minutes this way--use your common sense and if it seems like it could burn, reduce the heat further.
  10. Mix in ¾ of the reserved potatoes, sweet potatoes and caramelized onions. Add the yogurt and stir in completely. Taste for seasoning--it could need salt. Also, if you used all the optional hot peppers, the mixture will be quite hot, which is fine because it will be mixed with rice. If, however, you skip the hot stuff like I do for small children, you might want to add a little more garam masala.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat. Mix the peas in (if using frozen, do not worry about defrosting). Gradually add the rice to the pan, mixing it in completely. Mix the saffron into the melted ghee and the milk (if the ghee has cooled, you should warm the milk a bit). Drizzle this over the biryani. Garnish the top of the biryani with the reserved potato and onions.
  12. Cover either with a heavy lid or tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. The biryani can rest in the warm oven for an additional 10 minutes if needed (just turn the heat off). Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe by The Spiced Life at