Hyderabadi biryani of vegetables in a pumpkin shell

  • medium
  • 6
  • 1 hour 20 minutes
Not yet rated

This vegetarian biryani recipe from Indian chef Vivek Singh fills a hollowed-out pumpkin with a wealth of vegetables and fragrant rice and is perfect for a large celebration as it is fantastic for sharing. Crack open the lid with your guests at the table and let out the aromas of saffron and rosewater.

First published in 2015




Pumpkin biryani


Spices for boiling

Vegetable filling


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Coat the inside of the pumpkin with the tamarind paste, sprinkle with the chilli flakes and place on a rack and roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, until tender but still holding its shape
Soak the rice in cold water for approximately 10 minutes, then drain
Meanwhile, prepare the Jerusalem artichokes for the vegetable filling by peeling and cutting into a 1cm dice and squeezing over some lemon juice
Mix together the marinade ingredients in a flameproof casserole dish, but include only half the mint
Stir in the chopped green beans, the mushrooms and vegetables for the filling and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes
Meanwhile, add the water and boiling spices to a large saucepan and bring to the boil
Add the drained rice and boil, uncovered, for 6–8 minutes, until the rice is not quite cooked. Drain well
Place the warm milk and saffron in a bowl and leave for 3–5 minutes to infuse. Stir in the oil and rosewater essence and set aside
  • 3 tbsp of milk, warmed
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 2 tbsp of rose water
  • 4 tbsp of vegetable oil
Once the vegetables have marinated, place the casserole dish over a low heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the vegetables are half-cooked
Layer the rice over the simmering vegetables, pour over the saffron mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mint
  • 1/2 bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped
Cover the casserole pan, increase the heat to high and leave to cook for 5–7 minutes - this will allow the steam build up
As soon as the steam starts escaping from the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 8–10 minutes. Remove the casserole from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes
Transfer the biryani to the pumpkin shell. Chop the remaining green beans into 1cm pieces and sprinkle them over the biryani. Cover with the reserved pumpkin lid
Place on a baking tray and roast in an oven set to 200°C/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes
Remove the pumpkin from the oven, take off the lid and serve immediately

After ignoring his father’s advice to become an engineer, Vivek Singh has built a distinguished career as a chef.

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