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Thanksgiving Vegan Biryani – A Fusion of Flavors

  • Author: Mirriam Seddiq


I am Afghan and American. I wanted to come up with a dish that Afghans would love to eat any time of the year but that also could fuse with a Thanksgiving dinner table. This dish uses the best long-grain basmati from Aahu Barah along with roasted root vegetables, fried onions, and saffron. A real people-pleaser.



Cooking Oil

3 Cups Aahu Barah Long Grain Basmati Rice

1/4 Cup of Raisins

1/4 Cup Slivered Almonds

Water for Broth

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Star Anise

1 Black Cardamom (or sub 2 green cardamom)

1 Star Anise

4 Cloves

Nutmeg (grated)


1/2 Teaspoon of rose water

23 Onions (finely sliced)

2 Tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste

1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds

2 Cups Butternut Squash

1 Parsnip

2 Large Carrots

2 Teaspoons Char Masala

1 Teaspoon of Salt

Black Pepper

Fresh Mint

Fresh Cilantro

2 Bay Leaves


1. First, soak your rice for help in learning how to rinse and soak rice, and watch my how-to on rice.

2. Heat some oil in a pan and then cook the raisins. Be very careful that you don’t burn them. They will start to plump up. Then, you will add your slivered almonds. Again, you want the almonds slightly toasted, not burned. Then, set aside.

3. Next, we make a broth. You usually use a meat broth in biryani, but we won’t do that here since vegan. Let’s make our own! Heat 3 Cups of water in a saucepan. Crush star anise, cumin, and cloves in a mortar and pestle. Or use a spice grinder. Also, grate nutmeg into your “broth.” Add 2 Teaspoons of salt. Bring your broth to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then sit aside and let steep to continue building flavor.

4. Now, we will make our saffron-infused water. Back to your saucepan, you will add a half-cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Add a generous pinch of saffron. Add the rose water When the water turns bright gold, remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Now, we fry the onions. Add 1 Cup of oil to your pot. Once heated, add your sliced onions. You will want to fry them. Do not sautee. Please watch the video. You want to be fried, not wimpy and soft. This takes a while. If you can access well-fried onions in an ethnic grocery store, go for it. (not French’s) Once fried, remove from your pot, set aside, but then go back to the pot so we can cook our root vegetables.

6. Now, back to your pot. Add your ginger paste and cumin seeds. Add all your root vegetables. You can use whatever root vegetables you like. I used parsnip, carrots, and butternut squash.

7. Next, add char masala, salt, and a few cracks of black pepper. Now, add your drained rice over the top. Then add bay leaves and some fresh mint and cilantro.

8. Now you will, with a strainer, pour your “broth” over the rice and then pour your saffron-infused water over the rice as well.

9. Now, let your mixture come up to a boil, then turn it down to low heat and let it cook for 40 minutes. Please watch the video to see how to tie a dish towel around your lid before you let it sit for 40 minutes.

10. Take some of your extra fried onions and place them over the top of the dish. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro and mint over the top for looks.

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