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3.8 (5 votes)

Vegan biryani

Get all of your 5-a-day in one delicious vegan meal using this meat-free, dairy-free biryani recipe from healthy fast food restaurant Leon's new book Fast and Free

Serves 4

Prep Time 10 min + soaking

Cooking Time 25 min + standing


  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2cm cinnamon stick
  • Pinch ground mace
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Large pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • 2 parsnips, cut into small chunks
  • 200g butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 100g French beans, trimmed and cut into 2–3cm lengths
  • 10 radishes, halved
  • 100g mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • 200g cooked or canned chickpeas
  • 100g cooked spinach, chopped
  • 50g cashews, soaked in plenty of cold water for 4 hr
  • 50g raisins, soaked in hot water for at least 30 min
  • Pinch saffron, soaked in 2tbsp hot unsweetened almond milk for at least 30 min
  • 1tbsp each chopped fresh coriander and mint, to garnish


  1. Blitz the cauliflower florets to form ‘rice’ in a food processor (or use a grater), then set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan over a gentle heat, then add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, star anise, bay leaf, cinnamon and mace. Cook for a few min, then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, chilli flakes and garam masala and cook for another 1 min.
  3. Add the parsnips and squash, stir well and cover the pan. Cook for 10 min, then add the beans, radishes and mushrooms. Cover and cook for another 5 min.
  4. Add the chickpeas, spinach and cauliflower rice. Drain the cashew nuts and add to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook for 5 min, stirring well to prevent sticking.
  5. Drain the raisins and squeeze out any excess moisture. Add to the pan with the saffron milk. Season well with freshly ground black pepper, then fold through. Cover and stand for 10 min.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and mint, then serve.

Tip: The ingredients list looks long, but it’s mainly the array of spices used to make the dish fragrant. A good quality curry paste could be used instead. Feel free to substitute the vegetables for whatever you have to hand.

Nutrition per serving

Read more on how we calculate nutrition.
316 14.3g 12.7g 2.2g 12.7g 20.8g 0.1g 194mg 39.7g 5.4mg

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