This simple and delicious Biryani gravy really is what makes a biryani so good. It's the icing on the cake (or the chilli on top?!). And this one is super easy to make too. We’ve designed this tasty sauce to go with our Mushroom Biryani. They really go hand in hand perfectly. Don't make one without the other!
🤔 What is biryani sauce?
Often, when people think about biryani, they imagine a dry rice dish. In fact, biryani should always be served with a deliciously fragrant biryani gravy.
It’s made with peanuts, coconut and spices so it’s lovely and rich and creamy. In addition, it has a nutty undertone that complements the spices perfectly.
📋 Ingredient Notes
Our biryani gravy recipe is pretty simple, and made with ingredients that you can pick up in any supermarket. Here are a few notes on the key ingredients, but the full recipe can be found below.
- Green chillies - leave them whole, but prick them with a fork or a sharp knife a few times so that the flavour is released, but not in an over powering way
- Peanuts (unsalted) – it may seem odd, but they're key to this biryani gravy.
- Garam masala - if you can find any, biryani masala works really well but it can be a bit tough to get hold of!
- Veg stock - or vegan chicken stock works well too.
- Vegan yoghurt - any plain, unsweetened plant-based yoghurt will work well. We usually use Koko coconut yoghurt because it’s lovely and creamy.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
- The first step when you’re making Biryani gravy is to add your onion and pricked chillies to a sauteing pan over low-medium heat. Fry gently for 15 minutes. Keep them moving so that they don’t burn. This step is really important because it releases the flavour from the chilli and the onion.
- After 15 minutes, add the garlic, desiccated coconut, peanuts and tomato to the pan, and cook them until the coconut and the peanuts are toasted. Be careful not to let them burn, so keep them moving around.
- Take the whole lot out of the pan, pour into a blender with ¼ of a cup of water, and blend until smooth. If you don’t want your Biryani gravy with any heat, remove the chillies before blending, or add just one to the blender. Otherwise, leave them both in and enjoy a little chilli!
- Pop a splash of oil into the pan and fry all of your spices (garam masala, cumin, turmeric, star anise, and cardamom) until fragrant. Add your blended mix back to the pan, stir well and cook for another minute.
- Add the stock and bay leaves.
- Turn the heat up and bring it to a simmer.
- Simmer for 20 minutes with the lid off, remove from the heat, and stir in your yoghurt.
Keep reading for equipment recommendations, and for the detailed recipe card at the end of this article.
👨🍳 Expert tips
A note on the chillies:
When we add the chillies to the biryani gravy, we leave them whole but prick them with a fork so that they can release their fragrant flavour into the sauce without making it too spicy.
It’s really important that you sautè them for the full 15 minutes to get the most flavour out of them. We do blend them into the sauce afterwards, but this is optional. And remember, this biryani sauce is to be served with biryani, not by itself!
A note on biryani masala powder:
You can use biryani masala instead of garam masala. It's traditional to use biryani masala, but we've found that it's not as readily available. You could always make your own biryani masala though!
Yes, absolutely! It keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, and it even freezes well (just like soup!).
No, it’s pretty mild. However, you can make it spicier by adding more chillies if you like.
We’d recommend sticking to the recipe if you can because that will give you the best results. You could use ground versions of the whole spices if you can't find whole spices. Be sure to include the star anise, cardamom pods and bay leaves because they are key to the flavour of this gravy.
In Indian cooking, the sauce in a curry is referred to as gravy. To contrast this, in the UK, gravy is a condiment that is served with a roast dinner!
🍛 What to serve with it
It would just be silly to make a Biryani gravy and then not serve it up with a delicious Mushroom Biryani! Have it on the side or pour it all over the top, either way they were meant to be together.
If, like us, you like to leave the chillies in your Biryani sauce then you might need a little something to help cool it down… that’s where vegan raita is perfect. It’s a creamy dip made with yoghurt, mint and cucumber which is perfect on the side of a spicy curry, and traditionally served with biryani. Delicious!
You probably don’t need bread with a Mushroom Biryani, but it is tasty! Roti is a savoury flatbread that’s absolutely perfect dunked in Biryani gravy.
🇮🇳 Other Indian recipes to try
If you like our Biryani, we’ve got some other tasty treats that you will love!
And if those aren’t enough choices for you, then check out our guide 60+ Vegan Indian Dishes for some more inspiration!
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Perfect Biryani Gravy in 7 Easy Steps
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 white onion - peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes - roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and finely chopped
- 2 green chillies - leave them whole but prick them with a fork or a sharp knife a few times so that flavour is released.
- ¼ cup desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp peanuts - unsalted
- 1 tsp garam masala - if you can find any, biryani masala works really well but it can be a bit tough to get hold of!
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 4 cardamom pods
- 500 ml vegetable stock - vegan chicken stock works well too
- 2 tbsp plain vegan yoghurt – plain coconut yoghurt is best
- 65 ml water
- Pop the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Fry the chopped onion gently for 15 minutes. Keep them moving in order to prevent burning.1 tbsp oil, 1 white onion
- Once 15 minutes has passed, add the garlic, desiccated coconut, peanuts, chillies and tomato to the pan. Cook until the coconut and peanuts are toasted. Careful not to burn them, so keep them moving in the pan.2 cloves garlic, 2 green chillies, ¼ cup desiccated coconut, 2 tbsp peanuts, 2 tomatoes
- Remove everything from the pan and pour into a blender with ¼ of a cup of water. Blend until smooth. Optionally add one or two of the chillies to the blender, or omit them completely depending on your taste.65 ml water, 2 green chillies
- Take the saute pan again and add a splash of oil, and fry all of the spices (garam masala, cumin, turmeric, star anise, and cardamom) until fragrant. Now put the blended mix back into the pan with the powdered spices. Stir well and cook for another minute.1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp turmeric, 2 star anise, 4 cardamom pods
- Pour in the stock and pop the bay leaves in too.2 bay leaves, 500 ml vegetable stock
- Turn the heat up and simmer gently for 20 minutes, keeping the lid off. The sauce will thicken slightly.
- Remove from the heat, and stir in the plant-based yoghurt.2 tbsp plain vegan yoghurt
- Pricking the chillies with a fork allows them to release flavour without adding too much spice to the mix.
- When it comes to blending the mixture, you can choose to add one or two of the green chillies, or omit them if you don’t want them added. The sauce is quite mild as the chillies used are not particularly hot. It’s up to you whether you want them blended too. We think it’s better with them blended.
- If you can get biryani masala, you can use that instead of the garam masala as it’s traditional.
- Vegan chicken stock is great in this gravy, instead of the veg stock.
- If you can’t find all of the whole spices, use their powdered equivalents. This recipe works best with the whole spices so try to stick to the suggested items.