Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani. Vegan Glutenfree Recipe

Vegan Glutenfree Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani
Yes! This delicious Biryani needs to be cooked up right now! 
With some of my favorite things.. rainbow Quinoa, Cauliflower and peas, and a load of interesting spices and flavors. All bundled up in this cozy one dish meal. I couldnt have asked for more. This is the perfect way to eat warm and spiced Quinoa this Fall. Cold Salads, see you next summer. 
Biryani(layered Rice and veggie gravy dish) is one of the meals that does not get enough love, probably because of the number of spices and steps involved. But the awesome thing about this dish is, it gets easier as you get a hang of the process. A few spices here and there and steps missed or added at a different time does not change up the end result much. So try this gorgeous bowl filled with protein(quinoa) and vegetables of your choice. 
Biryani recipes from different parts of India and other countries as well use different spices, herbs and method or preparation. Cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, nutmeg etc can all be used for variations. Use whichever whole spices you have, or use just the spice blends like garam masala or Biryani masala. To make a quick version, just heat up and plate the gravy and quinoa together and serve.
use any other similar grain like millet or rice for variation. Make this Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani !

Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani  | Vegan Richa

You can use any other vegetables to replace or along with the Cauliflower, like potatoes, green beans, carrots, broccoli. Or use some Tofu or Tempeh for a “Paneer” Biryani. Or Mushrooms, chickpeas or lentils!

Possibilities are endless. 

The gorgeous rainbow quinoa, with yellows from turmeric and saffron, sweet from cranberries and raisins, sour from the yogurt, flavors from cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves. Yum! I added some dried cranberries and they take this Biryani to a whole new level.

More Biryanis from the blog. 

Vegetable Biryani with Basmati Rice

Garlicky Layer Biryani
Lentil and Rice Biryani
Mughlai Biryani


In a deep pan, add oil, toast the washed quinoa and spices. Add water and salt. Cover, bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. 

In another larger deep pan, add oil, heat on medium, cook onion, ginger, garlic, chili until nicely browned.

Remove some of theonion and keep aside. 

Add spices, cauliflower and peas. Mix and cook for 5-6 minutes.

Add cashew cream or yogurt and cook until cauliflower is just about cooked. 

Layer half of the cauliflower gravy, then fluffed quinoa rice, then cilantro, mint and saffron milk. 

Add rest of the cauliflower gravy, quinoa, nuts, cranberries, cilantro, browned onions.

Cook for 15-25 minutes. Let sit for a few before serving. Serve all the layers. 

Quinoa Biryani with Creamy Cauliflower, nuts, cranberries, peas.

Layers of Rainbow Quinoa “rice”, creamy Cauliflower gravy with whole spices, nuts, cranberries, raisins, peas, cilantro.
Allergen Information: Free of Dairy, egg, corn, soy, yeast, gluten. Can be made nut-free.

Serves: 5-6

For the Quinoa:
1 cup dry Quinoa (I used alter eco rainbow quinoa)
1 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick 1 inch
1 bay leaf
1 2/3 cups water
2/3 tsp salt or to taste

For the Cauliflower Gravy:

2 teaspoons Oil
3/4 red onion, finely sliced
1 green chili(Serrano or other), chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic, 3-4 cloves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 green cardamom
2 cloves
1 cinnamon of 1 inch
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon garam masala or Biryani masala blend
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder/cayenne pepper
1/2 medium sized Cauliflower, chopped into small florets
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light Cashew cream + 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, or whisked non-dairy yogurt or coconut milk
1/3 cup frozen/fresh peas
2-3 Tbsp raw cashews
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp dried cranberries

For Layer Assembly:

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves (optional)
Saffron milk: a few saffron strands mixed into 2 Tbsp warm almond milk(soak for atleast 5 minutes)


Make the Quinoa “rice”:
In a deep pan, add a half teaspoon of oil. Wash the Quinoa thoroughly. Drain and add to the pan. Add the spices except salt, and roast quinoa+spices for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add salt and water. Mix, cover and cook. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the Quinoa sit for another 5 minutes. Open, fluff with a fork and keep ready. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Make the Cauliflower gravy:

In a deep large pan, add oil and heat on medium. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, chili pepper and cook until onion slices are mostly brown. Remove 2 Tablespoons of the onion mixture to use as topping for later. (If using ginger or garlic paste, add the paste when onion is done). Add all the spices and mix for a minute. Add the Cauliflower, peas and salt. Mix, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cashew cream+vinegar or non dairy yogurt. Mix and cook for 6-7 minutes at low-medium heat or until Cauliflower is tender crisp. Add half of the nuts, raisins, dried fruit. Mix and keep ready. Add water or non dairy milk, if you like thinner or more gravy. Mix and use to layer. 

Layer the Biryani:

You can cook the layers on stove-top or bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Use the dish accordingly. I cooked it on stove top in the same deep pan in which I made the gravy. 
Remove half of the Cauliflower gravy mixture. The bottom layer is cauliflower gravy. Top this layer with half of the cooked Quinoa rice. Drizzle half of the saffron milk on top of the quinoa. Top with cilantro and/or mint. Layer the rest of the cauliflower gravy. Top with the remaining quinoa. Drizzle saffron milk, some cashews, raisins, cranberries and browned onion, cilantro+mint. Cover and place on a pan(for indirect heat so the bottom doesn’t burn) and cook on low heat for 20 or so minutes. Let the mixture sit for another 15 minutes. Then serve as you are serving a layer cake, take all the layers onto the plate. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve. 
Serve as is or with a side of raita(mix non dairy yogurt, salt, cumin powder and chili powder to taste.)

For a quick version, cook the quinoa and veggies,plate the gravy and quinoa together and serve. Use any other similar grain like millet or rice for variation.
Notes: To make cashew cream, soak raw cashews in warm water for half an hour. Blend with a few Tablespoons of water to get thick pasty cream. Add more water and blend for a whipped texture. 

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  1. says

    Oh yum, I love biryani! That cauliflower gravy sounds like something I’d eat with a spoon! It’s also a beautiful dish, totally tucking this one away for when I want something warm and comforting.

  2. says

    YUMMMYY!!!!! I have a gathering tomorrow for Navaratri and I’m going to try this. How did you make the cashew cream? I usually whip up the cashews with some water in my Vitamix until smooth and thick – but I use it raw becuase heating it ruins the texture. Let me know you recipe for that!

    • says

      yup, whip up the soaked raw cashews until very thick creamy. i usually add some more water after that for a lighter cream. The lighter cream cooks up well and makes a thick gravy with the veggies in the biryani. you can adjust the gravy to preference.

  3. says

    I love learning about lovely dishes like this one. All the spices included sound so beautiful together! It looks fantastic! Hugs, Terra

  4. says

    Biryani always looks so colourful! I love the idea of making it with quinoa. Your recipe definitely looks like it’s worth the steps required!

  5. says

    i never knew what biryani was before and now that i know, i want to make this immediately! it looks so hearty and flavorful and delicious. and so colorful!

  6. Jenny says

    Can’t wait to make this! If you substitute coconut milk for the cashew cream, do you still need to mix it with the apple cider vinegar or just use 3/4 c coconut milk alone? Thanks!

    • says

      add the vinegar directly to the veggies if using coconut milk. the vinegar is for the tang that comes with the yogurt. hope you like it!!

  7. says

    I’ve never made biryani at home before but have loved it when eating out. I adore savoury dishes with a little sweetness in there and this dish looks beautiful- Love all the colours!

  8. says

    What a gorgeous post, Richa and beautiful images of that biryani. In 2007, I’ve attempted to make a vegan biryani for the potluck for my International Studies class and instead I made Taiwanese fried rice (haha, I was too scared to make a biryani because I’ve never ate or tried them before). All of the step-by-step photos are making me salivate and I like the idea of using cashew cream instead of vegan yogurt.

  9. says

    Richa I did make this yesterday for the gathering at home and it was finger-licking good!!! Made a few changes though, mainly that I used organic brown rice in place of quinoa, although I simply love quinoa but some guests may not have appreciated the quinoa so replaced it with brown rice for this time. Also I didn’t do the corriander-mint part and didn’t layer up the biryani. I made the veggies and cream and then simply mixed the rice with it. Used all of the psices as you listed. The folks LOVED IT. Next I’m going to make this with quinoa the way its supposed to be. :-) Thanks so much for sharing!

    • says

      Awesome! so glad everyone liked it. the biryani is a great way to introduce people to quinoa. when i tried quinoa i dint like it as much too because i had it in a salad. but with all the flavors and spices, it gels well into the dish just like rice!

  10. says

    Thank you for the recipe…it looks like something I could make every week, changing it up a little and never tire of. That cauliflower gravy wants to live on everything…potatoes and pastas and puff pastry shells with veggies and tofu or chickpeas and whatever else comes along in the kitchen. Yumza! :)

  11. says

    Cauliflower, quinoa and biryani are three of my favorite foods! How have I never seen your blog before? I love it. All of it. I’ve just spent two hours bookmarking recipes of yours that I need to try. Super amazing vegan resource! #VeganHeaven

  12. Cherry says

    Thanks so much for this recipe Richa. I have made this for the past two New Years Day dinners and it is such a super special treat.


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