Recipe courtesy of Raji Jallepalli

Mrs. Ayyer's Vegetable Biryani with Tempered Onion-Cucumber Raita

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  • Level: Easy
  • Yield: 6 servings
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1 large cucumber

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon ghee

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons onions, finely diced

Coarse salt, to taste

1 cup carrots, 1/2-inch dice

1 cup coarsely chopped green beans

2 tablespoons fresh cayenne chile, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup fresh peas

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

4 cups cooked basmati rice

1/2 cup toasted cashew nuts, chopped


  1. Peel seed, and cut the cucumber into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and saute for about 3 minutes, or until the seeds begin to pop. Remove immediately from the heat. Combine yogurt and buttermilk in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the mustard seeds and ghee. Fold in 1/2 cup of the onion and the reserved cucumber. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Cover and refrigerate the raita until ready to use. Put the carrots and beans in a medium saucepan filled with rapidly boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain well and refresh under cold running water. Pat dry and set aside. Put the remaining 1/4 cup of ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cayenne chile, garlic, ginger, and the remaining onion and saute for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the lime juice. Stir in the peas and the reserved carrots and beans and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the saffron, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice and continue to saute for an 5 additional minutes. Stir in the cashews and serve with a bowl of tempered onion-cucumber raita on the side.
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