Vegan Oven Baked Butternut Squash, Spinach and Coconut Biryani

Although Butternut Squash, Spinch and Coconut Biryani was prepared with a different method and different vegetables, still the flavours of the Biryani were magnificent. It was rich, aromatic and tasteful. Whole spices, vegetables, coconut milk blend really well and the entire mix was a great treat for all of us, actually daughter kept having consecutively over a few days!

You will need :-

  • 500 g good quality Basmati rice washed, soaked and drained for 20 minutes.
  • 250 g butternut squash or pumpkin - peeled, deseeded and chopped 
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 1x400 ml coconut milk
  • 2 large onion ( 1 thinly chopped and 1 make in paste )
  • 5-6 cloves garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  • 2 tbsp. whole spice ( cloves, cinnamon, bayleaves, black cardamom, green cardamom. star anise, shahi jeera )
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. kitchen king masala
  •  1 tsp. nutmeg, black pepper and cardamom powder ( optional )
  • 3 tbsp. almond and poppy seeds paste 
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 5-6 tbsp. whole almonds or cashews 
  • 50 g raisins 
  • 1 tbsp. kewra water
  • 1 tbsp. fried onion
  • Fresh leaves of mint
  • Salt to taste
Method :-
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. ( 200C )
In a large saucepan heat oil, add all the whole spices, once they crackle add thinly spiced onion.
Gently cook the onion and spices for 3-4 minutes, then add onion paste.
Continuously keep cooking for 2-3 minutes and add garlic and ginger paste.
sauté this mixture for another 1-2 minutes, add red chilli powder, garam masala, kitchen king masala and nutmeg, black pepper and cardamom powder.
Add almond and poppy seeds paste and salt.
Add butternut squash and spinach, mix well.
Add 3-4 tbsp. water.
Cook the mixture for 1-2 minute.
Turn off the heat and add kewra water.
Mix the saffron, coconut milk and 1/4 cup water.
Bring it to the boil and leave it aside.
Spoon half of the vegetable mixture into a  oven proof dish, skillet or casserole.
Top with the half of the rice and sprinkle almonds, raisins and fried onion.
Repeat with another layer of the remaining vegetables, the rest of the rice and almonds and raisins.
Now carefully pour coconut milk and saffron mixture over the rice and vegetables.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is tender.
Garnish Biryani with fresh mint leaves and fried onion.
Serve steamy and piping hot Biryani with fried papad, dollop of yogurt and Cranberry, orange and mango chutney with Indian Tadka.

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