Mushroom Biryani is a curry house classic, this make-at-home version packs in all the flavour without the fuss, in just 40 minutes! And, it's one of our favourite options when we go out for a curry.
Not only is it absolutely delicious, it’s great value too. It’s predominantly a rice dish with vegetables but it always comes with tasty biryani gravy to cover it all in.
Biryani is definitely a popular dish in the UK. It takes a little time and effort to make but it’s absolutely worth it.
🤔 What is Biryani?
Biryani is a dish that originated in Persia, and is characterised by the use of fragrant, long grain rice like basmati.
The rice is flavoured with either whole or ground fragrant spices such as saffron and star anise, then layered with either meat or vegetables.
The whole lot is put in a large pot with a lid where it's cooked over a low flame so that the ingredients are steamed. The layering of the different ingredients means that the flavours combine and create the unique Biryani that we know and love.
Once the rice is cooked, it’s served with a delicious Biryani gravy. Biryani gravy is quite different to British gravy, it’s made with coconut and peanuts, and flavoured with spices. Basically, in the UK it would be called a curry sauce.
Ingredients and spices that are used are traditionally dependent on the region where it it's prepared. Coastal regions, for example, would be likely to use fish, however this recipe is vegan, of course!
We’ve opted for a mushroom biryani recipe because we love the flavour of mushrooms, and we think they have a subtle ‘meaty’ texture that works really well.
📋 Ingredient Notes
To make our recipe for mushroom biryani, you'll need:
- Cardamom pods - cracked open by bashing with the handle of a knife (carefully!)
- Green chillies - finely sliced (use fewer if you like)
- Turmeric powder – this helps create the lovely yellow colour that biryanis usually are.
- Garam masala - you can use biryani masala if you have it, but this can be difficult to get hold of!
- Mushrooms - quartered. Preferably chestnut mushrooms, but button or white mushrooms work well too.
- Peppers - we used one orange and one green, but you can use any colour you like. Chop them into very small cubes.
- Brown basmati rice - we prefer brown rice, but you can use white basmati rice if you like.
- Vegan butter alternative (we use Vitalite) – this is instead of ghee, an easy vegan substitute.
For detailed instructions and equipment recommendations, please see the end of this article.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions
To make Mushroom Biryani you will need a large stock pot or casserole dish with a lid to steam the rice, sauce and mushrooms in the oven. We’ve recommended one that we really like at the end of this article.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.
- Start by adding the rice, water and whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and star anise) to the stock pot or casserole dish and bring it up to a gentle simmer.
- Cook the rice for 15 minutes, or 6 minutes if you're using white basmati rice. You’re aiming to part cook the rice so that it is about ¾ done.
- Drain the rice and remove the spices.
- While the rice cooks, fry the onions for 15 minutes in a large sautè pan, remember to keep them moving so that they don’t burn! It’s important that you fry the onions for the whole time as this is how they become flavourful, and create a great base for the biryani.
- Add the garlic, ginger, chillies and spices (turmeric and garam masala) to the pan.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Chuck the rice into the pan and give it all a good stir.
- Take your stock pot or casserole dish and grease it with some vegan butter.
- Fill the dish up with your Biryani mixture, and then pour over ¼ of a cup of water and an optional 2 tbsp of melted vegan butter (this replaces the ghee that would be used in a traditional recipe).
- Pop the dish into the oven with the lid on, and bake it for 10 minutes. This will steam the rice so that it completely cooks through, and infuses with the flavours in the mushroom mix.
- After 10 minutes remove the dish from the oven and add in the peppers and peas. Give the whole lot a gentle stir and then pop the lid back on but leave the dish out of the oven.
- Let the dish sit for a further 10 minutes, the heat already contained within it will gently steam the vegetables.
- Season to taste, and serve with toasted almonds, fresh coriander and biryani gravy.
👨🍳 Expert Tips
Amount of water
We realise that 7 cups is a lot of water! This amount of water is used so that the rice can infuse with the whole spices. This is a traditional method, and it makes sure that the rice becomes fragrant.
For the mushrooms
Don’t wash the mushrooms with water before cooking. Mushrooms are very absorbent and washing them with water will mean they’ll take on more water and could become soggy. Instead, wipe them with a cloth or kitchen towel. This way they’ll stay firm and ‘meaty’.
A traditional biryani uses biryani masala powder. Instead of this, we've used garam masala. It's a lot easier to get hold of, but if you have biryani masala, use that instead! You could even make your own biryani masala powder.
Rice freezes really well, but we don’t think that mushrooms do as they can develop a ‘leathery’ texture after being defrosted. If you want to freeze this then we’d suggest that you slice the mushrooms rather than quarter them to try and get around this.
We really like using mushrooms because we think that they add a certain ‘meatiness’ to the dish that you just can’t get with a lot of other vegetables. If you want to replace the mushrooms we recommend using tofu, or another vegan meat substitute.
If you want to replace the peppers and peas, you could try other vegetables such as green beans or carrots. Whatever veg you decide to use, just make sure that you cut them into small cubes (around 0.5cm) so that they can cook properly from the steam.
Traditionally, Biryani would be made with meat or fish which of course this recipe doesn’t use! A traditional Biryani is also more complex and can be quite time consuming to make.
We’ve tried to make this Mushroom Biryani recipe as simple as possible, retaining the essence of the traditional flavour while being relatively quick to make.
🍛 What to serve it with
Mushroom Biryani just wouldn’t be the same without a delicious biryani gravy on the side. Serve it on the side, or just pour the whole lot over your plate - either way it’s ridiculously tasty.
Vegan Raita is the perfect accompaniment to a curry, especially if you’ve gone a bit overboard on the spices! Our vegan raita uses coconut yoghurt and cooling mint and cucumber. Biryani is often served with raita, so this is a perfect accompaniment. You can also use it as a dip for poppadoms!
Is it even curry night without naan bread? A lot of the naan breads you can buy in the shops have yoghurt in them, which means they aren’t vegan friendly. That’s why we decided to create our own.
Other curry recipes to try
If you enjoy this mushroom biryani recipe, then why not give one of our other curry recipes a go? These are a few that we think you'll love:
Did you make this recipe? Leave a review and a rating below, or tag us in your photos on Instagram! Alternatively, bookmark it in your browser or save to Pinterest for later.
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Simple Mushroom Biryani In 40 Minutes
- 7.25 cups water
- 1.5 cups brown basmati rice
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cardamom pods - crushed using the end of a knife so that they just pop open.
- 4 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2 onions - peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic - peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger - peeled and finely chopped
- 2 green chillies - chopped finely
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 500 g mushrooms - quartered
- 2 peppers - one orange and one green, chopped into very small cubes
- 1 cup peas
- 2 tbsp vegan butter like Vitalite or Earth Balance (optional) and vegan butter for greasing
- Fresh coriander
- Desiccated coconut
- Toasted almonds
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5.
- Start by adding the rice, water and whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick and star anise) to a large casserole pot and bringing it up to a gentle simmer on the stove.7.25 cups water, 1.5 cups brown basmati rice, 2 bay leaves, 4 cloves, 1 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cardamom pods
- Cook for 15 minutes, or 6 minutes if using white basmati rice (which cooks quicker than brown basmati rice). The rice will be al dente by the time the 15 minutes (or 6 minutes) is up. Drain and remove the whole spices once done.
- While the rice cooks, grab a sauté pan and fry the onions for 15 minutes. Keep them moving, they should become translucent and slightly brown.2 onions
- Add the ginger, garlic, powdered spices (turmeric and garam masala) and fresh chillies to the onions and mix well.4 cloves of garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 green chillies
- Pop in the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes.500 g mushrooms
- Chuck the part-cooked rice into the pan and give it all a good stir so it’s all well combined.1.5 cups brown basmati rice
- Grease the stock pot or casserole dish with the vegan butter.2 tbsp vegan butter
- Fill the dish with all of the Biryani mixture, and pour over ¼ of a cup of water and an optional 2 tbsp of melted vegan butter.2 tbsp vegan butter
- Pop the dish into the oven with the lid on for 10 minutes. This allows the rice to steam and cook fully, and take on more flavour.
- Take the dish from the oven and add the peas and peppers. Stir it all gently, then put the lid back on but leave the dish out of the oven. Leave it to stand, lid on, for 10 minutes so the vegetables can steam from the remaining heat in the dish.1 cup peas, 2 peppers
- Season to taste, and serve with toasted almonds or peanuts, desiccated coconut, fresh coriander and biryani gravy.Fresh coriander, Desiccated coconut, Toasted almonds, Peanuts
- You can use biryani masala if you have it, but this can be difficult to get hold of!
- 7 cups seems like a lot of water, but it’s to allow the rice to infuse with the flavours of the whole spices.
- Mushrooms - don’t wash them with water before cooking. Instead wipe them with a kitchen towel. Mushrooms are very porous so washing with water will mean that they’ll take on extra water. We want them to remain firm once cooked, and water doesn’t help this!
- This recipe is mild, but you can use one less chilli to make it milder. You can also remove the seeds and membranes from the chilli to remove the heat from them.