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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Cauliflower Biryani

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This traditional Cauliflower Biryani is one of my favorite vegetable curry recipes! It’s made with chickpeas, brown basmati rice, and quinoa for a well balanced and tasty vegetarian meal, full of Indian spices!

Top down shot of cauliflower biryani in a white serving bowl

“Biryani” might sound like a super complicated or fancy dish, but it’s actually just an Indian rice dish – made with tons of warm spices, a grain (usually rice, but it can also be done with quinoa or even barley), and vegetables.

The traditional version of biryani is very rice heavy (usually white basmati rice), heavier on oil, and lighter on the vegetables or meat, if added. And vegetable biryani typically doesn’t have any protein added – it’s just rice and veggies. It tastes delicious, but isn’t the most nutritious or filling meal.

This Cauliflower Biryani is loaded with veggies, has chickpeas and quinoa for added protein, brown rice for fiber, and it’s light on oil, making it a healthy, nutritious flavorful main dish!

This lightened up version of Biryani turned out SO good. The kids loved it too – they ate it up and asked for seconds!

Tools and Spices You’ll Need For This Recipe

How to Make Cauliflower Biryani – Step by Step

Step 1: Bring one cup of water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add brown rice, quinoa, and 1/2 tsp saffron threads. Stir and lower heat (to lowest setting) and let the rice mixture cook.  

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree tomatoes, chopped onion and chiles to taste in a food processor, scraping down the sides as needed, to make a smooth sauce.  

Step 3: Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add raisins and cashews and cook, stirring, until the raisins are plump and the nuts are lightly brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.  

Step 4: After you take out the raisins/cashews, add about 2-3 tsp oil in the skillet. Add cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes.  

Step 5: Pour in the pureed tomato mixture (it may spatter) and reduce heat to medium. Stir in garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and turmeric. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes.  

Step 6: Stir spinach, cauliflower, chickpeas and up to 1 cup water into the tomato sauce. Cover and remove from the heat.  

Step 7: Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  

Step 8: Spread half the chickpea curry evenly in the prepared baking dish. Spread the rice mixture on top of the curry. Spoon the remaining chickpea mixture over the rice. Scatter the reserved raisins and cashews over the top. Cover with foil. Bake until the rice is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Cauliflower Biryani - Indian Rice and Curry Casserole served in a green bowl

What makes Cauliflower Biryani healthy?

With just a few tweaks I was able to take this classic dish from my childhood and turn it into a tasty, healthy, comfort food dinner!

  • Made with Whole Grains: A traditional Biryani is made with white rice. This lightened up version is made with a combination of quinoa and brown rice adding whole grains, fiber, and added plant protein.
  • High in Plant-Protein: The addition of quinoa, chickpeas, and Greek yogurt adds plant protein to this dish making it heartier and more filling.
  • More Vegetables: Extra cauliflower, and spinach are added to this Biryani making it a well balanced meal. 
  • Lower in Calories: And at less than 300 calories per serving, you can go back for seconds and feel great about it!
Cauliflower Biryani - Indian Rice and Curry Casserole topped with Greek yogurt

Will kids enjoy this Cauliflower Biryani?

My kids loved this dish. They gobbled up their first serving and asked for seconds. While there is a mixture of spices in this dish it can be cooled with the addition of creamy Greek yogurt, and also omitting or reducing the green chilies. I kept this dish mild for the kids, yet it was still rich and flavorful for us adults. 

How do you make Cauliflower Biryani vegan?

This recipe is vegan (just omit the yogurt) and gluten free – but it still tastes super decadent and satisfying. If you’d like the cooling element of yogurt while keeping this dish vegan use a plain dairy free yogurt substitute or vegan sour cream. 

How do you keep and store Cauliflower Biryani?

This Cauliflower Biryani keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days, so while this makes a good amount of food, you can just cook once and eat twice (or more)!  Be sure to store it in an air tight container. Reheat in the microwave, or warm in the oven. 

How do you serve Cauliflower Biryani?

This dish is a one pot meal with whole grains, protein, and lots of veggies. We served this dish with a big dollop of plain, lowfat Greek yogurt on top which added a creamy and cool element to the meal. It’s a filling dish on all it’s own. If you’d like to add something on the side I suggest a light green salad.

Biryani - Indian rice dish on a green plate

Top Tips for Making Cauliflower Biryani

  • Check that your spices aren’t stale so you get maximum flavor out of them.
  • Cut back on the oil – you really don’t need more than the one and a half tablespoons in this recipe.
  • Try adding some bell peppers in if you have any in your fridge for extra veggies!
  • The leftovers taste amazing – just store them in the fridge and gently reheat them!
  • You can use any grain as the base of this dish. I used brown rice + quinoa, but you can use barley, millet, couscous, farro – or any whole grain you love!

Be sure to try these other healthy curry recipes!

If you have tried this Cauliflower Biryani recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

Indian Rice and Curry Casserole (Chana and Saag Biryani)
Print Recipe
5 from 10 votes

Cauliflower Biryani

This traditional Cauliflower Biryani is one of my favorite vegetable curry recipes! It's made with chickpeas, brown basmati rice, and quinoa for a well balanced and tasty vegetarian meal, full of Indian spices!
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 282kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 red onion 1/2 diced and 1/2 thinly sliced
  • 3-5 fresh green chiles (such as Thai or Serrano) stemmed and seeded
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt (more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 8 oz baby spinach
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp saffron

Instructions

  • Bring one cup water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add in brown rice, quinoa, and 1/2 tsp saffron threads. Stir and lower heat (to lowest setting) and let the rice mixture cook.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree tomatoes, chopped onion and chiles to taste in a food processor, scraping down the sides as needed, to make a smooth sauce.
  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add raisins and cashews and cook, stirring, until the raisins are plump and the nuts are lightly brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • After you take out the raisins/cashews, add about 2-3 tsp oil in the skillet. Add cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the pureed tomato mixture (it may spatter) and reduce heat to medium. Stir in garam masala, 3/4 teaspoon salt and turmeric. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir spinach, cauliflower, chickpeas and up to 1 cup water into the tomato sauce. Cover and remove from the heat.
  • Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Spread half the chickpea curry evenly in the prepared baking dish. Spread the rice mixture on top of the curry. Spoon the remaining chickpea mixture over the rice. Scatter the reserved raisins and cashews over the top. Cover with foil. Bake until the rice is tender, ~35 min. Remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Notes

Top Tips for Making Cauliflower Biryani
  • Check that your spices aren’t stale so you get maximum flavor out of them.
  • Cut back on the oil – you really don’t need more than the one and a half tablespoons in this recipe.
  • Try adding some bell peppers in if you have any in your fridge for extra veggies!
  • The leftovers taste amazing – just store them in the fridge and gently reheat them!
  • You can use any grain as the base of this dish. I used brown rice + quinoa, but you can use barley, millet, couscous, farro – or any whole grain you love!

Nutrition

Calories: 282kcal | Carbohydrates: 45.7g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8.3g | Saturated Fat: 1.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4.3g | Sodium: 684.7mg | Potassium: 981.6mg | Fiber: 9.4g | Sugar: 7g

Posted In…

Entrees ·

From healthy versions of favorites to cozy curries, these main courses are sure to bring some new recipes to your family’s table.

36 responses to “Cauliflower Biryani”

  1. This is an absolutely delicious dish. We have been trying to do one dinner a week meatless. This fit the bill perfectly.5 stars

  2. I really want to make this recipe, it looks amazing. But doesn’t the cup of rice/quinoa require more than 1 cup of water in order to cook?

  3. I had Indian food last night and had a lot of rice but they didn’t have the Curry Casserole. I need to try this soon! Looks so good, lol!

  4. I really like way you made some changes to the dish. I will definitely going to try this with brown rice. Thanks for the recipe5 stars

    • Let me know how you like it! One note – if you don’t like super spicy food, use 1.5 chilis instead of 3-5. I used only 3 and it made my dish pretty spicy!

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