It is true. The mere idea of veg biryani can divide a room in two, one in favour and one who just want to storm out. Biryani is mostly a combination of meat, spices and rice that are cooked together in dum until the rice is flavourful and aromatic and the meat is suffused with masalas. The term biryani is said to have been derived from the Persian words ‘Biriyan’ which means fried or roasted and ‘Birinj’ which is another word for rice. So, there is no explicit reference to meat, as far as the etymology of the word is concerned, so why the anguish over veg biryani? 

It could be because, the Mughals, who are actually credited to bring Biryani to India, happen to use very good quality meat in their biryani. But that does not mean 'veg' food was treated in any inferior manner, exotic vegetables and mushrooms were added in extravagant pulaos. Now, of course, times have changed, Biryani has become such a nationwide sensation that many likable and unlikeable renditions are also doing the rounds (Read: Chocolate Biryani). In our personal view, veg biryani is scrumptious, filling, and worthy of all the respect. And if you too are on board, here are some tips to help you make the perfect veg biryani.  

  1. Say what you may, but the real star of the biryani is the rice. Make sure you get long grain basmati rice that has been aged adequately, short-grain rice has a lot of starch content, which makes them stick to each other.  
  2. Another way to prevent the rice from sticking is by soaking it for 30 minutes at least. Once the grains absorb the water, they wouldn’t become a mushy muddle later. 
  3. As adventurous as you are, do not cook rice and meat together, especially not if you are making biryani for the first time, cook the veggies and masalas separately and then add the boiled rice to it and mix well. The rice that you add here should be al dente or half-cooked 
  4. When you boil rice, to make it more flavourful, you can boil it with bay leaves, green cardamom, black cardamom and cloves. This will make every grain of your rice flavourful from core.  
  5. Do not overcook the rice, once you mix it in, it should not take more 10-20 minutes for the biryani to be ready. 
  6. Make sure you marinate the veggies well, and cook it in a big non-stick wok until it is half-cooked.  
  7. Once the veggies are half cooked, then add the half-cooked rice to the wok. 
  8. Add milk, kesar, rose water and pour over biryani. 
  9. Add another layer of half-cooked rice, fried onions, cashews, almonds, and raisins. 
  10. Make sure you cook in low heat.  
  11. Serve with raita or salan. 

Here is a step-by-step recipe for delectable veg biryani.