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Layers of Rainbow Quinoa “rice”, creamy Cauliflower gravy with whole spices, nuts, cranberries, raisins, peas, cilantro make this  fabulous Quinoa Cauliflower Biryani.
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. 

About Richa

Hi, I'm Richa! I create flavorful plant based recipes that are inspired by my Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options.

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  1. Lauren says:

    I have used this before, a few times, and it’s so delicious. Thank you!

  2. Tricia says:

    Made this tonight from the cookbook – it was a deep dive into my spice cupboard but absolutely worth it! Wonderful combination of flavors and spices!

    1. Richa says:


  3. NICCI PARSONS says:

    i cooked this tonight , i added more spice and tried to make a thinner gravy but to be honest needed to be more as what a bit dry – i also added more onion as not enough to save some for the topping , plus i added some roasted veg into it , as taste was a bit bland i thought ( sorry !!!) i put in the oven but wasn’t sure whether i was supposed to cover it or not – i didn’t , dont know of this is right or not ? so potential but in my opinion needs more contrasts of flavour – how can i do this ?

    1. Richa says:

      hmm. maybe the spices were old, or did not roast enough to release flavor in the dish, or maybe just needed more salt(the right amount helps bloom the spices on the taste palette). Whole spices tend to add flavor as they sit, so even if not roasted enough, they will infuse the dish in time. This dish is like a rice dish, so there is just enough sauce for some moisture, not a wet gravy dish. You can double the sauce. thinning it out will also dilute some flavor. i’d day just add more of the spices, salt and double the sauce.

  4. Carol says:

    This is amazing!! Thank you!

  5. Kerrie says:

    My partner and I agreed that this is one of the best dishes we’ve ever eaten. Thank you!

    1. Richa says:


  6. Vicki says:

    I just made this for dinner. It was a hit! My husband was in heaven. He wants me to be sure and save the recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Richa says: