Aubergine biryani

Aubergine biryani
  • Serves icon Serves 4-6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 50 min, simmering time 30 min, plus resting

Vegetarians deserve biryani too! In this wonderful recipe from Anshu and Renee of DabbaDrop, aubergine brings meatiness while a tomato masala offers umami punch.

Anshu and Renee say: “There are many types of biryani across India and every region makes it oh so slightly differently. Ours is a cross between a Mumbai and Chennai biryani, with lots of mild kashmiri red chilli, coriander and fennel. The aubergine is deliciously aromatic and can be used in a tomato or coconut-based curry too.”

Find a wide selection of vegetarian curry recipes here.

Nutrition: per serving

359kcals, 11g fat (8.8g saturated), 7.6g protein, 55g carbs (9.2g sugars), 0.2g salt, 4.5g fibre
359kcals, 11g fat (8.8g saturated), 7.6g protein, 55g carbs (9.2g sugars), 0.2g salt, 4.5g fibre


  • 2 medium or 1 large firm aubergine, cut into 8cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Vegetable oil to fry
  • 3 onions, 2 sliced finely into half moons, 1 finely chopped
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin plum tomatoes
  • ½ bunch coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves picked
  • 1 green chilli, slit open (and deseeded if you like less heat)
  • 350g basmati rice
  • 2 limes or lemons, quartered, to serve
  • Coconut yogurt to serve

For the spice mix

  • 15 dried red kashmiri chillies
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds


  1. Make the spice mix by toasting all the ingredients in a dry frying pan for a few minutes, being careful not to let them burn. When cool, whizz or grind into a fine powder.
  2. Put the aubergine in a bowl and massage in the coconut oil with a big pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Half-fill a small deep saucepan with vegetable oil for frying the onions. This is quintessential – it could be argued that a biryani is not a biryani without fried onions! Put over a medium heat for about 3 minutes to heat up. Test by dropping in a half-moon of onion; if it rises to the top, your oil is ready to go. Fry the rest of your sliced onions in batches until golden and crisp. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. In a large, lidded pan or casserole dish, add 2 tbsp of the onion oil and heat over a medium heat. Drop in the finely chopped onion and ginger and fry until browning at the edges, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add 8-12 tsp of the spice mix (depending on how hot or spiced you want your biryani to be), then cook for another minute until everything smells deeply fragrant. Add the tomato purée, stirring so nothing catches the bottom of the pot. Add 2 more tbsp of onion oil and then the aubergine. Cover with the lid and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until the aubergine is tender and completely cooked through (test by piercing a few pieces with a fork).
  6. Add the plum tomatoes, breaking up the pieces of tomato with the back of a spoon (or go in with your hands). Add a big pinch of salt, the chopped coriander stalks and green chilli. Cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes until the oil separates from the tomato and onion masala.
  7. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 150°C fan/gas 3½. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then put in a pan with 700ml water and some salt. Put the lid on, bring to the boil, simmer for exactly 4 minutes until al dente, then drain. Once the masala is ready, spoon the rice on top. Cover it with the lid.
  8. Transfer the covered pot to the oven. It needs 20-30 minutes depending on your oven; after 20 minutes, open the lid and check if the rice is cooked by squeezing it between your fingers. If not, get it back in for the final 10 minutes.
  9. When your dish is ready, bring it straight to the table and remove the lid to reveal the biryani (cue oohs and aahs as the smells wafts through your kitchen). Use a wooden spoon to mix the rice and masala together and get your guests to decorate with fried onions and coriander leaves. Serve with lemon or lime wedges and coconut yogurt.

delicious. tips

  1. If you are cooking the biryani after the festive season, feel free to add any leftovers (veg, meat or fish) to the masala as it cooks. Biryani is a robust dish and lends itself beautifully to using up whatever you have in your fridge.

Recipe By

Anshu and Renee of DabbaDrop


Fancy getting a copy in print?

Subscribe to our magazine

Rate & review



Share a tip

Or, how about...?

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Vegetarian curry recipes

Vegetable biryani

A quick, simple vegetable biryani recipe packed with mixed vegetables...

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Chicken curry recipes

Dishoom’s chicken berry Britannia (biryani)

Find the recipe for Indian restaurant Dishoom‘s chicken berry Britannia:...

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Biryani recipes

The best chicken biryani

Follow our step-by-step recipe for a perfect chicken biryani every...

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Vegan dinner recipes

Aubergine and red lentil curry

This aubergine and red lentil curry recipe makes a warming...

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Easy vegan recipes

Chetna Makan’s tamarind aubergine curry (imli baigan curry)

Chetna Makan’s imli baigan is a quick aubergine curry recipe...

Save recipe icon Save recipe icon Save recipe

Vegetarian curry recipes

Mushroom curry

Inspired by the Indian chicken dish methi murgh – this...

Subscribe to our magazine

Food lovers, treat yourself this Christmas... Enjoy 12 months of magazines for £29.99 – just £2.50 an issue.


Unleash your inner chef

Looking for inspiration? Receive the latest recipes with our newsletter

We treat your data with care. See our privacy policy. By signing up, you are agreeing to delicious.’ terms and conditions. Unsubscribe at any time.