Try our vegan biryani recipe then check out our paneer vegetarian dum biryani, chicken biryani and lamb biryani.

Maunika Gowardhan says: "I have made this hyderabadi qabooli vegan for those who are keen to try biryani while omitting dairy. Swapping regular yogurt and butter for dairy-free during the layering process keeps it vegan without compromising on flavour and texture. Sealed and baked in the oven, the layers and flavours of channa dal, spices and basmati rice come together."


  • 200g channa dal, soaked for 2 hours in plenty of cold water (see cook’s notes below)
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 medium or 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder or mild chilli powder
  • 2 heaped tbsp (I used Alpro Plain) dairy-free yogurt


  • 450g basmati rice
  • 4 pods green cardamom
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves


  • 2 tbsp dairy-free spread, melted
  • a good pinch soaked in 2 tbsp of just-boiled water saffron
  • chopped to make 1 tbsp mint leaves
  • chopped to make 1 tbsp coriander
  • 2 bird’s-eye green chillies, slit length wise
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp (optional) rose water
  • 3cm piece ginger, cut into slivers


  • lemon wedges
  • raita
  • tomato and red onion salad


  • STEP 1

    Put the channa dal in a large pan with 1 tsp of the turmeric and 900ml of water. Bring to a simmer, then cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure it doesn’t boil over, and skimming now and again. It should be completely cooked but still holding its shape. Turn the heat off, keep 150ml of the cooking liquid aside and drain the dal.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Heat the oil in a heavy non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the onions for 25-30 minutes or until really softened and turning golden brown. Take out half the onions and keep in a bowl to use later.

  • STEP 3

    Add the garlic and ginger to the remaining onions in the pan. Fry for 1 minute, stirring well. turn the heat to low, add another tsp of turmeric and the chilli powder, fry for a few seconds, then add the yogurt a little at a time. Continue to stir for a minute then add the cooked channa dal. Season and stir for 2 minutes. At this stage add the reserved dal cooking liquid and simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.

  • STEP 4

    To cook the rice, put the basmati in a large pan with 1 litre of water and the spices. Bring to a boil, season and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and set aside.

  • STEP 5

    Start layering the biryani in a deep 23-24cm casserole. Begin with 1/2 tsp of melted dairy-free spread at the bottom. Add a third of the basmati, sprinkle a little saffron water, mint, coriander, one chilli, the garam masala, rose water (if using) and ginger slivers. Add half the channa dal mix and top with half the fried onions.

  • STEP 6

    Now add another third of the basmati and top with a little more spread, saffron, mint, coriander, chilli, garam masala, rose water and ginger. Add the remaining channa dal and top with the fried onions.

  • STEP 7

    Finish with the remaining rice and any leftover mint or coriander and any leftover spread. Cover the casserole with a double sheet of baking paper and put a tight fitting lid over it. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Turn the oven off and rest inside for 10 minutes. Once done take the pan straight to the table and open the lid, take off the baking paper and let all the aromas fill the room. Serve on a platter with lemon wedges, raita and salad.

Cook's notes

Channa dal are dried, split chickpeas, and are available from large supermarkets, Indian supermarkets and online.

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