One-pot Vegetable Biryani made in the instant pot, is so easy to cook with the same authentic flavors! Fragrant basmati rice cooked with lots of vegetables, and aromatic whole spices and herbs. This delicious flavorful Veg Biryani ready in less than 40 minutes, and is perfect for a weeknight dinner with a side of raita or for special occasions.
This Vegetable Biryani is one recipe I have been wanting to share since a long time. However I also wanted it to have the authentic biryani flavors, and not be the same as Vegetable Pulao.
Biryani is special, something more elaborate, it has to include the aroma of whole spices, the tangy yogurt flavors and the flavors of fried onions, and nuts and raisins sautéed in ghee...my mouth is watering just talking about it!
So finally after a lot of testing, let me present to you this EASY Instant Pot Vegetable Biryani!
What is Biryani?
Biryani, also known as biriyani, biriani, birani or briyani, is a mixed rice dish with its origins among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. It is said that it originates from birinj, the Persian word for rice or that it derives from biryan or beriyan, which is to fry or to roast. Biryani is made with Indian spices, rice, meat and/or vegetables or eggs.
There are many varieties of biryani like Chicken Biryani, Lamb Biryani, Paneer Biryani, Dum Biryani, Hyderabadi Biryani, etc.
I often get the question what is the difference between biryani and pulao. Now you will find many reasonings including here on wiki, but here are the main differences for me:
- Layering: Biryani has layering of meat/vegetables and rice. Often, the two are cooked separately and then layered. Then cooked on low flame (dum/slow cooking) to allow them to develop the flavors together. Now there are also one-pot ways to do the layering and make biryani, which is what we will do in this recipe. In pulao, there is no layering, meat/veggies and rice are cooked together.
- Marination: Often the meat is marinated before adding to a biryani. This helps to get tender well cooked meat. For vegetarian versions with vegetables, I still prefer to add yogurt to get the enhanced flavors. This also helps to make the biryani more saucy and moist. For pulao, marination is not required.
- Spices & Herbs: In biryani, often more spices, whole and ground are used. Spices are added when marinating and also when cooking meat/vegetables with the rice. Mint and cilantro (coriander) are often added in the layers to enhance the flavors of biryani. Pulao is simple and light on spices and herbs.
- Fried onions: Okay, fried onions may not be required for an authentic biryani. But I love the flavor of fried onions in the biryani and this makes biryani different from simple pulao. You can also brown onions before adding the other ingredients when cooking, if you want to skip fried onions.
As you can imagine, making biryani is an elaborate process which can be time consuming. Although well worth the effort!
Now lets come to easy weeknight cooking. It would not be possible to cook the traditional multi-step dum biryani on a weeknight after work. So here is where the pressure cooker and one-pot techniques come in handy.
In this Pressure Cooker Vegetable Biryani recipe, I will incorporate the main aspects of making biryani but in a single pot.
This biryani is vegetarian. It can be made vegan with replacing ghee with plant based oil and milk and yogurt with plant based options (see recipe notes). It can be made gluten-free by skipping store-bought fried onions or using gluten-free fried onions. You can also just caramelize onions in the instant pot or in a pan.
What ingredients are used to make Vegetable Biryani?
- Rice – For biryani, use long grain basmati rice. As rice is the main ingredient, it is important to use good quality basmati rice. If possible, get the rice with long or extra long grain. I like Royal brand basmati rice or Tilda long grain basmati rice.
- Vegetables – I used a variety of vegetables in this biryani - potatoes, green peas, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and bell peppers (capsicum). You can always vary the vegetables based on what you have on hand. Some other options are - mushrooms, corn, radishes, edamame, sweet potatoes. Make sure to keep in mind that all the veggies are cooking together with rice, so the cooking time must match to include them in the biryani. If some veggies cook quickly such as cauliflower, cut it into large florets, so it does not overcook. You can also add tofu or paneer to vegetarian biryani.
- Yogurt - You may skip yogurt or replace with vegan yogurt.
- Whole Spices – I used a variety of whole spices such as bay leaves, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, green cardamom, cloves and black peppercorns.
- Ground Spices – I added turmeric, coriander, garam masala and Kashmiri red chilli powder (mild) in this biryani. Paprika can be used as a substitute of Kashmiri red chili powder.
- Herbs - Mint and coriander leaves are used in this recipe.
- Saffron & Milk - This another ingredient that is a must add to make biriyani. It adds so much flavor and aroma. Soak saffron in water to make this vegan.
- Fried Onions - You can use store bought fried onions or brown onions at home in the pot before making the biryani and reserve some to top the biryani. For gluten-free option, skip fried onions or use gluten-free store-bought fried onions. You can also just caramelize onions in a pan and add to the biryani.
- Cashews and Raisins - I like to saute the nuts in ghee and then reserve to garnish the biryani before serving. You can saute in oil for a vegan biryani variation.
- Ginger, Garlic and Lime juice
How to make Instant Pot Vegetable Biryani?
- Let's start with first soaking the rice.
- While the rice is soaking, warm milk and soak saffron in it.
- Heat ghee in the instant pot and sauté the cashews and raisins for about a minute till they are lightly browned. Take out and reserve for later.
Cooking the Vegetable Biryani:
- Add whole spices to the ghee and sauté for about 30 seconds.
Add sliced onions and sauté for about 6 minutes until they have the golden brown color. If you don't have fried onions for this biryani, then you can add extra onions here and caramelize them. Then save half to garnish when serving.
Add ginger, garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Press cancel and turn off the sauté mode. I do this so that the vegetables added in the next step don't start cooking.
Add all the vegetables, yogurt and spices. Mix well and scrape anything stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Now spread the veggies at the bottom of the pot. Top with mint leaves, and half of the fried onions. Do not mix.
Now spread the rice evenly over the veggies. Sprinkle saffron milk on top of the rice. Do not mix.
Add the water for cooking on top such that the rice is just immersed under water. Do not stir the ingredients. Close lid with vent in sealing position.
Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at low pressure for 6 mins. After the instant pot beeps, quick release the pressure manually.
- Open the pot and fluff the rice gently with a fork. Top the biryani with the remaining fried onions and cilantro leaves. Top with the reserved cashews and raising in the port or when serving (I saved them for serving). Let it rest for 5 more minutes.
Serve hot with yogurt or raita and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Tips to make Perfect Vegetable Biryani in the Pressure Cooker
- Use good quality long grain basmati rice and soak rice for 20 minutes.
- Cut the vegetables that cook quickly into larger chunks such as cauliflower.
- Use good quality Garam Masala. Here is my homemade Garam Masala recipe.
- Deglaze the pot after adding the vegetables and yogurt. It is important to do this to avoid the burn message.
- Do not let the biryani sit in the instant pot after its done as the rice can get overcooked due to the residual heat. You can also just take the liner out of the pot and cover with a glass lid.
Why you will love this Vegetable Biryani made in Instant Pot?
- Easy one-pot recipe
- Authentic taste of biryani packed with flavors of whole spices, yogurt, fried onions and more!
- Takes less than 40 minutes and just 15 minutes of hands on time.
- Vegetarian, with an option to make it vegan and gluten-free.
- Can be enjoyed as a complete meal with yogurt or raita.
I am sure you will love this flavorful and aromatic Vegetable Biryani made in the instant pot. Let me know how it turned out!
Instant Pot Vegetable Biryani
- 1 cup Basmati Rice long grain, soaked for 20 minutes in 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoon Milk (use water for vegan)
- 1 pinch Saffron (Kesar) few strands
- 1 ½ tablespoon Ghee (use oil for vegan)
- 10 Cashews
- 10 Raisins
- ½ Onion large size, finely sliced, about 1.25 cup
- 1 teaspoon Garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Ginger grated
- ¼ cup Plain Yogurt whisked (skip for vegan or use vegan yogurt)
- 2 tablespoon Mint leaves (Pudhina) finely chopped
- ¼ cup Fried Onions divided (skip for gluten-free or use gluten-free fried onions)
- 1 ¼ cup Water
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro leaves finely chopped
- 1 Potato medium sized, cut in ¾ inch chunks, about 1 cup.
- ½ cup Green Peas fresh or frozen
- 1 cup Cauliflower cut in large florets about 1.5-2 inch
- ½ cup Red bell pepper sliced about 1 inch lengthwise
- ½ cup Carrots sliced in thin strips
- ½ cup Green Beans cut in 1 inch pieces
- Rinse the rice and soaking for 20 minutes. Then drain and keep aside.
- Warm the milk slightly and soak the saffron in it.
- Start the pressure cooker in sauté mode and heat ghee in it. Add cashews and raisins and saute them till lightly roasted. Take out and reserve for later.
- Add all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add sliced onions and sauté for about 6 minutes until they have the golden brown color. You can save some to garnish if you like.
- Add ginger, garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Press cancel and turn off the saute mode.
- Add all the vegetables, yogurt and spices. Mix well and scrape anything stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Now spread the veggies at the bottom of the pot. Top with mint leaves, and half of the fried onions. Do not mix.
- Now spread the rice evenly over the veggies. Sprinkle saffron milk on top of the rice. Do not mix.
- Add the water for cooking on top such that the rice is just immersed under water. Do not stir the ingredients. Close lid with vent in sealing position.
- Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at low pressure for 6 mins. After the instant pot beeps, quick release the pressure manually.
- Open the pot and fluff the rice gently with a fork. Top the biryani with the remaining fried onions and cilantro leaves. Top with reserved cashews and raisins. Let it rest for 5 more minutes.
- Serve hot with yogurt or raita and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Note: Nutrition values are my best estimates. If you rely on them for your diet, use your preferred nutrition calculator.