Monica Shaw’s Cauliflower ‘Rice’ Biryani


Cauliflower takes the place of the usual rice in Monica’s vegetarian biryani recipe, for a lighter, vegetable-centric spin on the traditional Indian biryani dish

Biryani is the perfect dish for cauliflower ‘rice’ because cauliflower goes so well with the spices involved: ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom and chilli. Served with a big spoonful of Greek yoghurt (if not catering for vegans) and a handful of toasted cashews, it makes a meal in itself.

For the cauliflower ‘rice’ biryani:
• 1 cauliflower
• 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
• 10 cashew nuts, raw
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 5 cardamom pods
• 1 onion, finely sliced
• 50g of green beans, trimmed
• 50g of carrots, cut into batons
• 1/2 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
• 30g of peas, fresh or frozen
• 1 tsp chilli powder, or more to taste
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• 1 slice of root ginger, 1cm thick, finely sliced
• 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 40g of tomatoes, chopped
• 1 handful of coriander leaves, chopped
• 1 handful of mint leaves, chopped

To serve:
• Greek yoghurt, optional
• cashew nuts, toasted, optional

1 To begin, cut the cauliflower up into individual florets, then place the florets in a blender. Blitz until broken down into small, rice-sized pieces.
Add the oil to a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once hot, add the cashew nuts, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until aromatic.
3 Stir in the onions and cook for 10 minutes until nicely golden brown. Add the beans, carrots, pepper, peas, chilli, garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt, then place a lid on the pan and continue to cook for 20 minutes on a very gentle heat, stirring from time to time to prevent burning.
After 20 minutes, stir in the cauliflower rice and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Stir in the fresh herbs, stir well and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Taste the biryani, adjusting the seasoning and adding more herbs if needed, then place in a large serving dish. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some toasted cashews.
Recipe courtesy of Monica Shaw
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