Bringing best of both worlds together in a pot- Quinoa Vegetable Biryani!
Quinoa is the perhaps the most popular super food of this decade. It’s a seed (not a grain), which is gluten-free, high in protein, fiber, amino acids and a lot more. Biryani, on the other hand, is an Indian Rice dish, where aromatic basmati rice is cooked with marinated meat or vegetables.
As a family, we have been trying to make better food choices and make our meals more balanced and healthier. With the focus on increasing protein and lowering carbs, I have been experimenting with my family’s favorite biryani recipes. Over the last year or so, we have been substituting Quinoa for rice in many dishes. Even though the total carbs in Quinoa per cup, may look almost the same as that in a cup of rice, it is still a better and healthier choice. Quinoa is high in fiber, which brings the net carb (total carbs minus fiber) count down. The high fiber content means we feel satisfied or full in a lesser quantity of quinoa vs rice. Also, since it is high in protein, it slows down the process of carb absorption in the body vs. rice, which gets processed as a simple carbohydrate.
Even though our love for the classic biryani stands intact, this dish is my effort to introduce a healthier Biryani recipe in my family, so that we can enjoy is more often, and the result is simply delicious. It’s quick to make, cooks at lightning speed in my Instant Pot, so a big one-pot weeknight hit in my family! It’s easily customizable, you can add your choice of vegetables, add paneer to it to bump up the protein (I always do that). You can add shrimp to it and make a Shrimp Quinoa Biryani, or add diced chicken pieces, increase the cooking time to 4 minutes and make a fantastic Chicken Quinoa Biryani. Try it for yourself!
Quinoa Vegetable Biryani in Instant PotPrint Recipe
- 1 cup quinoa of your choice
- 1 tablespoon ghee/butter/olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (1/2 inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic)
- 4 tablespoons almonds & cashews, whole or halves
- 2 cups assorted vegetables of your choice
- 1 cup paneer, cubed, about 4-5 oz. (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons shan bombay biryani masala (depending on your spice level; see 'notes' for substitute)
- 3 tablespoons fried onions
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and mint
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
Prep: Cut assorted vegetables of your choice in bite size pieces. Cube paneer in 1/2 inch pieces. Crush 1/2 inch ginger+ 3 garlic cloves and keep aside (if using fresh).
Turn IP on Sauté. Wait 30 seconds and add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Add almonds and cashews and sauté another 30 seconds.
Add vegetables and paneer, Biryani masala (see 'notes' for substitute for masala blend) and quinoa. Add water and stir well. Top with fried onions, saffron strands and chopped cilantro-mint. Close lid. Valve set to Sealing. Press Manual (hi) for 2 minutes.
After natural pressure release, NPR, open lid. Using a fork, gently fluff the biryani. Serve with raita or your favorite condiment.
If you want your quinoa extra soft, add 1.25 cups of water instead.
Substitute for Biryani Masala: 1 tbsp Garam Masala, 1 tbsp Coriander Powder, 2 tsp Cumin Powder, 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp salt
Stove-Top Pressure CookerThis Biryani can also be made in any stove-top pressure cooker- Follow all instructions and continue to cook for 2 minutes 'after' your pressure cooker reaches high-pressure. When done, let the pressure release naturally.