What makes this almost a biryani? I cooked this in the pressure cooker, thereby halving the time. Traditionally biryani is cooked in the oven (low and slow, so the flavours have time to be accentuated). I simplified the process and used whole spices and garam masala instead of making my own spice paste. It is also very unconventional to use chick peas!

Biryan-ish, fragrant rice and vegetables

To make the backbone of Indian spice pastes – ginger and garlic paste, just pound equal measure of ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt.


75g red onion

200g waxy potatoes, cut into eighths

100g carrots, cut into small cubes

100g cut green beans (frozen is okay)

1 x 400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed well

45g ghee

1 quill cinnamon stick

5 cardamom pods

1 star anise

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ginger, garlic paste

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

225g Basmati rice, rinsed well

100ml plain natural yoghurt, whisked smooth

2-3 red chillies, chopped

3 tablespoons coriander leaves and stalks, chopped finely

Salt to taste

10 strands saffron soaked in a tablespoon of warm water

150g onion, finely sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


First prepare the caramelized onions. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized fry pan. Throw in the onions and a few good pinches salt. Slowly fry them on medium low heat for 20 minutes, turning them once in a while until they are brown, soft and slightly caramelized.

Heat ghee in the pressure pan. Add the whole spices – the cinnamon quill, bay leaves, star anise, cloves and cardamom. When the spices bloom and smell fragrant, add the sliced red onion. Fry for three minutes, add the ginger, garlic paste, chillies and coriander leaves, followed by garam masala and turmeric. Fry continuously for a minute and toss in the vegetables including the chick peas. Keep frying so the spices coat the vegetables well. Spoon the yoghurt and salt and mix well. Cook for a couple of minutes.

The vegetables first and then rice on top for Biryan-ish

Spoon the rice so the vegetables are completely covered. Top with caramelized onions and pour over the saffron strands. Gently pour 300mls of hot water along the walls of the pressure pan so as not to disturb the vegetable base. Cover with the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook on low heat for five minutes after you hear the first whistle. Allow the pressure cooker to cool completely.

Turn over the biryani onto a serving platter. Serve hot with plain yoghurt and pickled onions.

Serves 4.

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