• There’s not much to equal the pleasure of ordering a perfect biryani, except in telling an envious mate. (Bloomsbury)Source: Bloomsbury

 You can grind your own spices for this generous, all-in-one rice dish, or use a good ready-made curry paste for an easy option.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (135 votes)


  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium-large leek (200–250 g), halved and thinly sliced
  • ¼ red cabbage (about 300 g), cored and shredded
  • 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 250 g white basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 125 g cashew nuts
  • 100 g raisins
  • sea salt

For the spice mix (see Note)

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cardamom pods, seeds extracted
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric

To finish

  • 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • chopped coriander (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Have ready a large, wide, flameproof casserole with a well-fitting lid.

If preparing your own spice mix, put the casserole over a medium heat, add all the whole spices and toast them gently for 2–3 minutes until fragrant. Take off the heat and grind the spices coarsely using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Mix with the turmeric and set aside.

Return the casserole to a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onion, garlic, leek and cabbage. Cook gently, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until the veg are softened and reduced in volume. Add the freshly prepared spice mix, or bought curry paste, and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring a few times.

Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk gently in a saucepan with 300ml water until smoothly amalgamated.

Add the rice, cashews and raisins to the veg. Add 1 tsp salt, or if using a ready-made paste that already includes salt, just ½ tsp. Stir well so that everything is thoroughly combined.

Pour on the warm diluted coconut milk and stir well. Make sure the ingredients arelevel in the dish, then bring up to a simmer. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and check that the rice is tender (if not, give it another 5 minutes). Then cover the dish again and leave it to stand for 5–10 minutes.

Remove the lid and fluff up the rice a little with a fork. Scatter over some red chilli and coriander, if using, then serve. This is really good with a spoonful of chutney on the side. Use your favourite mango chutney or make up a half quantity of the coriander and tamarind sauce on page 98 and serve it raw and unheated as a chutney.



• Instead of making your own spice mix, you could use 3 tablespoons of ready-made mild-medium curry paste. If you want to keep this recipe vegan-friendly, make sure to buy a vegan curry paste.


Recipe and image from River Cottage Much More Veg! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, hb, $45.00).