Is Veg Biryani Even A Biryani? Heres All You Need To Know

Among all the rice dishes in India, biryani is one that occupies the top spot in our hearts. The one-pot delight has been voted the most-ordered dish year after year. The combination of aromatic rice, whole spices, vegetables and meat cooked in dum style gives birth to a dish that is truly irresistible. Popular legends and theories suggest that biryani originated in Iran, and slowly evolved in the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal regime. Apart from its origin story, a common debate among foodies and biryani enthusiasts is about the vegetarian version of biryani. Does it really exist or is biryani purely a meat-based dish? Here’s all you need to know.


Is Veg Biryani Really A Biryani? | All You Need To Know About Vegetarian Biryani

There have been multiple discussions on websites such as Quora and Reddit about this topic. “Is veg biryani real” and “Do vegetarian biryanis exist” are some of the questions posed by users online. Passionate responses ensue and both sides of the argument have plenty of takers. Some users say that biryani was intended to be a meat-based dish only, and thus the concept of vegetarian biryani is null and void. Others protest that dishes evolve over time and adapt to the environment, which is why the idea of veg biryani is not something alien anymore.

(Also Read: Veg Biryani Recipe: How To Make Hyderabadi-Style Chana Dal Biryani)


Veg biryani is a vegetarian version of the meat dish. Photo Credit: iStock

What Is Veg Biryani Made Of? | Vegetarian Biryani Recipes

Vegetarian biryani or veg biryani is a dish that typically replaces the meat in biryani with a variety of ingredients such as cottage cheese (paneer), soya bean, tofu and more. Some even make biryani with vegetables such as mushrooms, jackfruit (kathal) or dates (khajoor).

For some innovative veg biryani recipes, click here.

Experts Take On The Biryani War

Chefs, restaurateurs and experts too weighed into the veg biryani debate. “For me, biryani is more to do with the technique of layering and cooking in dum-style with the infusion of aromatic spices and fat (could be fat from the gelatinous meat or dairy fat) which binds everything together to complete a flavorful dish. Though there are several variations, however, the essence and the technique remain the same,” said Gagandeep Singh Bedi, culinary director, Roseate Hotels and Resorts, New Delhi.

(Also Read: 9 Protein-Rich Veg Biryani Recipes You Need To Know About)


Biryani can be made with a plethora of vegetarian ingredients too. Photo: iStock

“While some purists might argue that a dish made without meat cannot truly be considered a “biryani,” others would argue that the defining characteristic of a biryani is the combination of rice and spices, rather than the presence of meat,” agrees restaurateur and founder of GT Road, Rajan Sethi.

Meanwhile, executive chef Dheeraj Mathur from Radisson Blu, Kaushambi has a different outlook and feels that biryani by its definition has meat in it. “Biryani, by definition, has meat in it. So if there’s no meat, it’s not a “true” Biryani. But with time food has evolved, vegetarians have modified the biryani to their own likings by substituting meat with veggies,” said Mathur. “With veg biryani, you can’t cook vegetables for a long period of time on Dum because they wouldn’t hold to their structure nor will they add any flavour to the biryani. For this basic technicality, veg biryani is not biryani,” says popular chef and founder of Food Lab, Sanjyot Keer.

“Vegetable biryani is not a biryani till the time vegetable and spices together create a melange of flavours and aroma which tickle your tastebuds as biryani,” says Palash Ghosh, Executive Chef at Taj Hotels and Convention Centre, Agra.

Our verdict:

Like it or not – vegetarian biryani is biryani and yes, it exists. The debate around vegetarian biryani may continue well into the future and is far from over. But there is no denying that veg biryani too is undeniably delicious!

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