Roasted Vegetable Biryani With Baked Tofu
Spiced basmati rice is studded with crunchy cashews, rich coconut flakes, and sweet raisins, and tossed with hearty roasted veggies and spicy baked tofu to make this flavor-packed vegan vegetable biryani. This dish is as pretty as it is delicious, and perfect for special occasions!
For the longest time I was super intimidated by Indian food. It seems so complicated with all those whole spices and tempering and other ingredients and methods I’m not used to. But I got over it, and now I love cooking Indian food.
Except biryani continued to scare me. It seems like there are a million ways to go about making the stuff! And most of them come from different regions that use their own unfamiliar-to-me ingredients and cooking methods.
But here’s the thing: most of the time, when I’m cooking up regional cuisines, I don’t really go for authenticity. I just go for what works in my kitchen and tastes good to me. And so I played around with a few super shortcut versions of biryani in my kitchen — ones where I used dry spices instead of whole, used pre-mixed spice blends, that kind of thing — and they all just felt wrong.
This is my compromise. It’s definitely not authentic. I mean, it has tofu in it. I did take some shortcuts that made sense to me (like roasting the veggies, since the tofu is going in the oven anyway). But I kept the whole spices, the long cooking time to caramelize the onions, and you know, just the stuff that seemed indispensable.
So while this recipe might be a bit simplified compared to traditional biryani, it’s not exactly a quick and easy dinner. If you’re looking for one of those, try one of these recipes. If you came here specifically just for some pretty rice and spicy baked tofu, try this. It’s way easier and really delicious, and to be honest, I pretty much stole the tofu portion of the dish for this biryani.
Now that I’ve gotten my disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk about how to make this biryani!
Like I said, the veggies are roasted instead of steamed/boiled like those in other biryani recipes usually are. I love roasting veggies because it’s so easy — just drizzle them with some oil and pop ’em in the oven. And while you’re at it, pop some tofu in the oven too! The tofu is covered in a spicy garam masala based sauce before baking. If you’ve got time, let it marinate in the sauce for a while. It not, no biggie!
And while the tofu and veggies bake, start caramelizing some onions. The key to this is low heat and patience! You’ll need a good 45 minutes to get onions properly caramelized.
One the onions have caramelized, add your spices and toast them for a minute. Finally, add some water and your rice. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the roasted veggies and baked tofu to the rice when it’s done cooking. Or if you’re like me and ran out of room in the pot (oops!) transfer the rice to another vessel. I just went and added the rice to the big skillet I used to roast my veggies.
Add some cashews, coconut, and fresh cilantro, then serve.